March 04, 2015

Get to know the people behind Bucknell's Community College Scholars Program.

Get to know the people behind Bucknell's Community College Scholars Program.

By Paula Cogan Myers • Photography by Dustin Fenstermacher

This story originally appeared in Bucknell Magazine. To read more from the latest issue, click here.

After he graduated from high school, Oscar Beteta ’11 planned to pursue a four-year college degree. He had admissions offers, but the honors scholarship he received from Montgomery County Community College provided the financial support he needed to make attending college a reality. While there Beteta heard about the Bucknell Community College Scholars Program (BCCSP), and in June 2007, the program’s inaugural year, he and a group of 29 students from five different community colleges arrived at Bucknell for a six-week summer session. They lived on campus, took two classes, attended workshops and learned how to transfer to a four-year university such as Bucknell.

The goals of the program were clear — to support high achieving community college scholars in pursuit of four-year degrees; to provide opportunities for students from different age groups, backgrounds and learning environments; and to enrich the Bucknell experience for all students by diversifying the student population with people who bring different life experiences and perspectives to campus and the classroom.

“Some community college students balance competing time commitments, including full-time jobs and families, as they decide on the best path to a four-year degree,” says Mark Davies ’74, assistant vice president for enrollment management and director of partnerships. “During community college, many students discover new academic interests, learn more about themselves, find available opportunities and consider what an education at a higher level might mean for them.”

Beteta decided Bucknell was for him and went on to graduate with a bachelor’s in chemical engineering. A few weeks after graduation, he began working for Air Products and Chemicals, where he is still employed as an applied research and development engineer. The job provided Beteta income to help his mother close on a home in Blue Bell, Pa., fulfilling a long-held dream.

BCCSP began when Bucknell received a four-year grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to pilot the program. T. Joel Wade, professor of psychology and BCCSP academic director, leveraged expertise he gained as director of a previous Bucknell program to create BCCSP. “The level of motivation, dedication and academic achievement among BCCSP students has a very positive impact on so many aspects of Bucknell’s environment,” says Wade.

The University has since taken over the program’s funding, and to date, 220 students have participated in the BCCSP summer program, 128 have gone on to graduate from Bucknell and more dreams have come true. “BCCSP students are wildly successful here,” says Robert Midkiff, associate provost and program mentor. “They go on to graduate programs, professional programs and employment in a variety of positions and contexts. And they achieve success — changing their lives and the lives of their families forever.”

So who are these Bucknellians, and the educators driving them to succeed? What brought them to Bucknell? And what about life on campus appeals to them most? We just had to ask...