Gives incoming Freshmen a glimpse of campus life and support
by Steven Kissinger
Campus life can be daunting for college freshmen who are experiencing life away from home for the first time.
Easing the shift from high school to college is the purpose of The Immokalee Foundation’s crash course in the important “dos and don’ts” of campus life, the annual College Transition Boot Camp.
Held June 1-2 at TIF, the two day long series of workshops addressed registration, time management, drugs and alcohol, campus safety, financial aid, resident life and additional topics for 25 newly minted Immokalee High School graduates.
“The whole purpose is to pack in as much information as we can for our graduating seniors to prepare them for when they start college in the Summer B session or in the fall,” said Marcie Bonilla, TIF’s Take Stock in Children program services coordinator and boot camp organizer.
The workshops were led by TIF administrators, along with local professionals, including:
- Tiziana G. Marchante, a financial aid communications associate for Florida SouthWestern State College
- Cal Majure, Florida Gulf Coast University’s undergraduate relations coordinator
- Cpl. Benny Bright, the Collier County Sheriff ’s Office’s public resource officer at IHS
- Thomas Buckingham, coordinator of academic support for FSW’s Collier County campus
- Ana DiMercurio, assistant director of Drug Free Collier
- Karen Full, a former admissions director
Other workshops were led by five student mentors who are participants in TIF’s College Success program, which assists TIF graduates pursuing post-secondary degrees. Each student mentor shared their own experiences adjusting to college life. They also fielded questions from their younger counterparts and in small-group sessions with their peers.
“That way, they could really dive into different issues that pertain to young women and young men,” said Bonilla.
Bonilla said the student mentors addressed such topics as the pressure to party, dating, joining a fraternity or sorority, the incidence of campus theft, and what a young woman might experience if she selects a male-dominated major, such as business.
“More serious issues came up, such as date rape drugs and incidence of rape on their campuses,” Bonilla added. “The mentors are taking these young students under their wing and reminding them that while we’re from Immokalee where everybody knows everybody and everybody looks out for one another, on these big campuses, everyone doesn’t do that – so just be aware and make smart decisions.”
Lynecee Romelus, a political science major, began putting boot camp knowledge into practice on June 29, when she started
classes at the University of South Florida.
“I wanted to participate in the boot camp to get a better understanding of what college will be like and how to prepare myself for it,” Romelus said. “I learned the financial aspects, along with the psychological part. I entered college with some very good tips, and the boot camp made me feel a lot more comfortable with my transition into college. I am no longer afraid – I’m more anxious than anything.”
Being a student mentor represented a reversal of roles for Elijah Arreaga, a junior majoring in sports management and business at the University of Florida.
“When I was a senior in high school, I was able to learn from what the mentors had to say,” Arreaga said. “I came back to help out and just really give them a feel of what they were about to encounter once they go off on their own.”
The small group sessions were a highlight for student mentor Guadalupe Hernandez, a social work major at FGCU.
“We gathered around in a circle and just talked about everything,” Hernandez said. “I think it was memorable because the girls really opened up. It did get emotional. People were crying and I think that was just what they needed.”
The Immokalee Foundation provides a range of education programs that focus on building pathways to success through college and post-secondary preparation and support, mentoring and tutoring, opportunities for broadening experiences and life skills development leading to economic independence.
To learn more about TIF, volunteering as a mentor or for additional information, call 239.430.9122 or visit www.immokaleefoundation.org.
Steven Kissinger, executive director of The Immokalee Foundation, can be reached at Steven.email@example.com.