Nineteen students participating in a summer bridge program called Smart Start to Thomas Nelson Community College received special attention recently when Congressman Bobby Scott, who represents Virginia’s 3rd district, visited the Hampton campus. TRiO Program Director Virginia Keithley invited Congressman Scott to observe their Amazing Race, an interactive scavenger hunt that allows new students to explore the campus and learn about various student services.
The Aug. 6 “race” included four teams led by TRiO students who serve as peer mentors. Each group collected clues by scanning strategically placed QR codes with iPads. Congressman Scott addressed the students offering encouraging words before the activity began. He also expressed his support for programs such as TRiO. The federally-funded program serves students who are either first-generation, low-income or have a documented disability. Smart Start is a TRiO program initiative that focuses on the needs of entering freshmen with cohort learning groups, peer mentors, team-building activities and more.
Amazing Race participants gathered in Wythe Hall Gallery to receive instructions from Niambi Glover. She developed the interactive activity after completing a scavenger hunt with TRiO as a student. The following year, she offered to enhance the activity for incoming students and designed the race to include QR codes and more using Google Sites. Information Technology personnel, Ruth Smith and Alex Gabriel, helped Glover grow the activity.
Glover earned a degree in Liberal Arts with emphasis in English and is now an Admissions and Reference Specialist with the College. She credits TRiO for enhancing her student experience. “They are supportive, and I could not have been successful without them. There are so many tools that you take from TRiO that are helpful. You learn study habits, you learn about etiquette and how to interact with your professors. You can use all of these tools after you graduate,” she said.
Now in its fifth year at Thomas Nelson, Smart Start also provides technology use training through Blackboard workshops, web study resources and tutorials, financial literacy links and access to the TRiO virtual community. Participants are registered to take 11 classes together this fall.
For more information about Smart Start to Thomas Nelson, contact the Office of Public Relations and Marketing at 757-825-2725.