Nick Vega ’21 fondly remembers his time as a student at Jesuit Summer Bridge (JSB).
As a rising eighth grader, Vega improved his math and English skills at Jesuit during the summer of 2016 and participated in activities like flag football and dodgeball. But he most remembers how the Jesuit student counselors had an impact on him.
“The counselors were really nice to me, and they just inspired and me and made me want to go to Jesuit,” Vega said. “I saw how educated the counselors were and their academic skills, and it made me want to be at that level.”
Now a rising senior, Vega has returned to Jesuit Summer Bridge with the hope of making the same impression on this year’s students. Vega, Andrew Garateix '21, Nick Garcia '21, Frankie Machado '21, and Edward Morrison '21 comprise this year’s volunteer staff of dedicated student counselors.
The counselors assist in critical thinking, math, and language arts classes as well as create fun activities for the students.
“We try to positively impact the students, and we try to give them a taste of what Jesuit is like on campus and in a class setting,” said Vega, who recalls his own math skills improving significantly during his time as a Jesuit Summer Bridge student.
Vega serves in the Big Brother program at Jesuit, and with JSB he mainly helps out critical thinking teacher Cameron Ruff ’13 each day. Vega said the students enjoy the various puzzles, riddles, and brain games that the course entails. He also likes to monitor the progress of the students’ reading skills during each morning reading period.
“I like helping during the reading time to actually see how the kids are progressing in their reading,” Vega said. “Since it's in a class setting and they're reading out loud, I can tell some of them have really gotten better.”
With just over a week remaining in the five-week program, Vega said he is still eager to help these students continue to improve academically and make sure they’re having as much fun as he had as an eighth grader.
“I just enjoyed being helped by the counselors and there was a lot of fun too, not just academics,” he said. “It made me want to come back and give the same experience to these kids.”
Editor's note: Jesuit Summer Bridge is offered at a steeply discounted cost to the participants due to the generosity of benefactors, notably Nancy and Mike Petters '77. The Petters' have demonstrated a leadership commitment to JSB and to providing unique opportunities for local youths to experience a Jesuit education. Other benefactors include the Tiger Lilies, the club comprised of mothers of Jesuit alumni, who every year host special events for the JSB students.