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2019 Graduate Spotlight: Mentors Helped this Graduate Complete her Degree a Year Early

Jaclyn never envisioned herself attending college – never mind graduating before her peers

Jaclyn Cirinna never envisioned herself attending college, especially when she stopped showing up to her high school classes at age 14 and became involved with the Massachusetts Department of Child and Families.

On Saturday, May 18, Jaclyn, 20, graduated from Salem State University, a year earlier than her cohorts.

In 2016, Jaclyn enrolled in Salem State’s six week-long alternative admissions program, Summer Bridge Academy (SBA), which is part of the university’s Center for Academic Excellence.

The program offers college admissions to students who, based on their academic profile, would not have been admitted through the traditional application process.

First-generation student Jaclyn attended weekly meetings with SBA and TRIO Student Supportive Services (TRIO SSS) prior to her first fall semester at the university.

“I got to know the tutors, where they were, and learned I could go through tutors whenever I had an issue,” Jaclyn said. “It was extra support, knowing the campus before students arrived. It helped me become comfortable in an academic setting.”

TRIO SSS is a federally-funded program at Salem State that provides support services to eligible part-time and full-time matriculated students.

These students may come from low-income backgrounds, may be first-generation, having parents who did not graduate from a four-year college, and may have a learning or physical disability.

“TRIO SSS has shown me that regardless of my economic status, learning disability, or ADHD, I am capable of earning a four-year degree,” Jaclyn said. “Not only did they provide free tutors and guidance on how to navigate my college experience productively, but they never gave up on me.”

Summer Bridge Academy, which awards scholarships to their top ten achieving students, requires students to complete the six-week long summer course and then provides students with support throughout their entire first-year at Salem State.

“Whether it was searching for classes or getting ready to leave the country to study abroad, TRIO, but especially Ivan [Pina] and Carla [Dropo], attacked every challenge alongside me,” Jaclyn said. “They even assisted me in my determination of graduating a year early.”

Summer Bridge Academy and TRIO SSS Services include:

  • Academic support in reading, writing, math, science
  • Course tutorials and testing
  • Student development
  • Personal counseling
  • Academic planning
  • Financial aid assistance and financial literacy programming
  • Guidance in course selection and registration
  • Weekly individual appointments as well as group meetings and workshops throughout the summer program

The student development counselors seek to:

  • Develop an awareness of the students educational and career goals
  • Serve as a role model through long-term mentoring
  • Provide assistance with financial aid and financial literacy
  • Provide personal counseling, career counseling, and academic planning
  • Support student in developing and fostering self-confidence, self-determination, and self-esteem

Learn more about Salem State's Summer Bridge Academy or TRIO Student Support Services.

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