2014 ACES Summer Institute by Tenzin Yingsal ('16)

           This past summer marked the 4th annual class of the ACES Summer Institute Program at St. Joseph’s College on the Brooklyn Campus. Compared to last summer, the number of participants for this term increased by half. Any students entering their sophomore or junior year were welcome to apply to the program. The program consisted of students from 6 high schools: Manhattan Bridges High School, High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies, Edward R. Murrow High School, Brooklyn International High School, International High School at Lafayette, and International High School at LaGuardia. These high schools have been in contact with the ACES program for many years and, after attending the Summer Institute program, many students apply to St. Joseph’s College and enter the ACES program.  

           Regarding the daily routine for the participants, the program runs from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm. Breakfast was provided every morning, and one of the participants from High School for Dual Language and Asian Studies, Lingqiao Chen, confesses, “the breakfast was really good.” Each of the 3 class sections had 10 students taught by the ACES professors: Professor Larson, Professor Meehan, and Professor Murtha. The program provided 6 SAT sessions for the students to enhance their reading and writing component skills. When questioned how the SAT workshops helped the students, Lingqiao states, “SAT is about practice. Even though the time spent on SAT practice was not as much as the time spent on reading and discussing the assigned novel, the program gave me a SAT book, which I could practice with at home. I think the program taught me some useful techniques for the SAT, such as avoid extreme words when doing the reading section...I improved by 100 points the next time I took my SAT after the summer program compared to the first time I took it.” Another participant from Manhattan Bridges High School, Elianny Moronta says “I have learned how to manage my time in these sections, particularly how to do them accurately without wasting my time. I was able to get a high score in my first try of the SAT in these sections. So, thank you ACES program!”

            Aside from the SAT workshops, the students read, Emma, a 19th century novel by Jane Austen. They explored different literary terms and visited the historical period during the 1800’s in England, while analyzing the book through in-class discussion with student presentations. They also wrote a college-level literary paper based on the characters of the novel where they were asked to analyze distinct traits with depth and learned to express their perspectives through writing. When asked how the program facilitated the students to develop study skills, time management, independence and a sense of community, Lingqioa says, “Since almost every night we had reading assignments, and before the program even started we needed to read a portion of the book, I think this taught us how to manage our time because reading a huge portion of the book a few days before the program started was very difficult.”  She adds, “This program benefited me as a student where I learned what college classes are like and how to find reliable sources for essays or papers. Also, this program helped improve my writing and reading skills.”

            At the end of the program, the students had movie night as a break from the competitive and busy schedule. Lingqiao states, “The time spent on the campus was the best part of my summer because I feel like I was really doing something valuable and not wasting my time. My favorite memory was to be able to study with my friends in an actual college environment.” Elianny adds, “The fact that I had the chance to meet so many diverse people in such short amount of time was the best for me. We do not have the same way of thinking, and to get to know some of them, for me, was the best. I also had the chance to meet wonderful professors that are still willing to help even when I am not with them anymore and I appreciate that.”