Program for UMich Transfer Students from Michigan Community Colleges Receives $3.4 Million Grant

According to a Monday morning press release from the Faculty of Letters, Science and Arts.

Transfer Bridges is designed to help students majoring in the humanities at Henry Ford College in their college transfer process. The program also provides accessible opportunities to engage with the campus community on both a professional and extracurricular level. In addition, the shared academic organization strives to pair transfer students with UM faculty and advisors to help them through the academic shift.

The Mellon Foundation grant will be used to provide community college students with paid summer internships, undergraduate research opportunities, and service-based learning projects at the University. As of fall 2021, 100% of program participants have applied and attended the University, according to the press release.

The new funding will also allow the program – which is currently a partnership between the University and Henry Ford College only – to expand and include two additional community colleges: Schoolcraft College and Grand Rapids Community College.

Program director Jesse Carr noted that lack of finances can prevent students enrolled in Michigan community colleges from pursuing unpaid opportunities. With this program, they will be able to seize opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.

“Students with enough resources can accept unpaid internships or special opportunities and learning experiences and have the expenses paid, but many of these students don’t have those opportunities,” Carr said.

Carr said he was thrilled with the funding to help provide community college students with the resources and opportunities needed to succeed in college. He also noted that many students in the program are first-generation undergraduates and are more than capable of thriving at the institution.

“A lot of these students are really amazing,” Carr said. “It’s just that they don’t have the kinds of institutional relationships or knowledge. A large majority of students in the program are first generation students. And they are very talented, very capable of succeeding here.

LSA junior Yasmeen Berry said the Transfer Bridges program facilitated her transition to college from Henry Ford College in the fall of 2021. Berry participated in humanities research through the Mellon Research Scholars Fellowship in under the Undergraduate Research Opportunities program in 2019 and 2020.

“The program allowed me to create some really great relationships that I still have today in the research field and to start building that network before I made the transition,” Berry said.

Berry is now the lead coordinator of the UROP Mellon Scholars program and mentors Henry Ford College students in the program, helping them find important financial resources and academic opportunities.

“I wanted to give back to the program,” Berry said. “They (mean) really a lot to me and so I really wanted to find ways to increase opportunities for people who are currently in the shoes that I was in at that time.”

LSA junior Nusrat Atika, who also transferred from Henry Ford College, said the program was helpful in providing access to peer mentors and UM advisors to facilitate a smooth transition.

“You know the (transfer) application process is mentally exhausting,” Atika said. “But the peer mentors who contacted us were very helpful, and I was also able to meet with advisors to make sure my courses (could) be transferred. A lot of community colleges don’t have that established curriculum and the same opportunities that I had. I think it’s a very good idea for the program to grow.

Daily journalist Varsha Vedapudi can be reached at [email protected].