The Bridges to Belmont program helps many get on their feet and gives students with different backgrounds a chance to go to school when they least thought possible.
“We are a college access program, a community outreach and scholarship,” said Director Mary Clark.
The students have access to offices that will nurture them and help them grow both inside and outside of the Belmont community. A 2.5 GPA is demanded, but when a student falls short, tutoring is provided.
A goal of the program is to help the students find what they are great at and think about the future, not just the present.
“It’s more than a scholarship– it’s an experience,” said Clark.
One particular student found help through the program when she was still in high school. Adriana Matamoros, 19, originally from Honduras, received help from a counselor to reach out to the program.
“Because of her practically, I’m here,” said Matamoros.
When she moved to Nashville, she wasn’t planning on going to school.
Her school counselor helped her reach out to Belmont. Most of the receiving scholars attend summer school programs, have essays their junior year and receive early help with the ACT.
Her grades reached the program’s standards, and she got accepted into the Bridges program.
“It was a salvation,” said Matamoros.
Belmont’s help turned out to be one of her only options for college. She had heard about the Tennessee Promise, and Middle Tennessee State University reached out with a scholarship. However, the scholarship did not cover her needs, so it was out of the question.
Reflecting on it, Matamoros sees the good in the program.
“It has opened my mind to new opportunities to appreciate the life that I have,” said Matamoros.
Matamoros takes advantage of the open-office policy by going in three to four times a week. By visiting the Bridges to Belmont program workers, she lets them know what is going on with her school work. In return, she gets advice.
“It makes me happy to know that, when I get out, I won’t be lost,” said Matamoros.
They are all students with the same potential as the rest. They simply were not equipped with the best skill set and preparations, said Clark.
“It only adds to the larger Belmont campus,” said Clark.
Another student from Nashville, Ronald Stanley, 19, had never really thought about coming to Belmont, and was offered a full-ride scholarship to the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. He still picked Belmont and the program.
“I felt like at Tennessee I wouldn’t be getting the support that I needed,” said Stanley.
He often listens to his peers and and enjoys hearing about how they have persevered through diversity. Supporting each other as a smaller community within the community helps the students value what they have.
“The program has allowed me to be a part of something great while being connected with great people,” said Stanley.