MCC's 'Bridge' program has sophomore excited the college

Friday, July 3, 2020

McCOOK, Neb. -- One year ago, McCook High School graduate Bria Simmons spent most of her summer dreading the thought of college. She just wanted to get out of McCook, and planned to start her academic life fresh in Omaha. To appease her mother, she made one last campus visit to McCook Community College which made financial sense to the family. During that visit they heard about the Bridge To Success program which allows incoming freshmen to get a two-week head-start on campus life as well as take a free two-week English preparatory class.

“I was not excited about it at all,” she said. “My mom was. She thought it was a great idea for me but you have to write a 250-word essay and I kept putting it off and putting it off.”

Bria Simmons says McCook Community College’s “Bridge to Success” program fueled an ‘amazing freshman year.’
MCC photo

This summer she’s, not only excited about college, she’s also become a vocal advocate for the Bridge To Success Program. She’s recruiting everyone she can think of to sign up for the two-week program that changed her outlook on life. Oh, and she’s learned not to put things off – all credit to her instructors, Lisa Beans in English and Shannon Corder in Student Success.

“I remember that first day of the bridge program last year, I did not want to be there and pretty sure none of the other nine students really did either, but two weeks later on the last day of class, the 10 of us – most of us who’d never met before then – were sad and many of us crying because we’d gotten so close and didn’t want it to end.”

She admits, the academic part of the program was not easy for some – putting 16 weeks of class work into a two-week time frame with six hours of classroom work each day. Bria was a solid English student but sometimes that didn’t translate in her test scores. At a weekend supper event off campus, a few days before class, she found others just like her. Former students from the Bridge program joined the group and talked about their experience.

“That really seemed to get us all excited,” Bria said.

After the first day of the college prep writing class, all the students got together and studied. “It was kind of like we all bonded since we all needed to get through the class so we decided let’s just get this done together and that’s what we did,” she said. “We showed up, we did the work and we listened – plus it was fun because we got snacks all day long.”

“I think in high school, I felt overwhelmed with a lot of my classes and thought it would be even worse in college, but this class taught me to stay on task from the beginning, and work fast,” she said. Students made it through the first day, and then the first test, and the first writing assignments. They kept each other on task.

“I used to hate school and now I look forward to it. The Bridge program helped me improve grades and that led to me being eligible for Phi Theta Kappa, and that led me to be more engaged in all sorts of campus activities and events, and that led to more fun,” she said.

She also came out of the program with a different perspective on her home town.

“Part of the program is getting to know campus and getting to know McCook. I lived in McCook and we went to places I’d never been before and done things I didn’t know you could do.”

She felt the program helped get every element of her life ready and organized for college, and with the knowledge of all the resources she might need to have a successful freshman year. She even learned test-taking skills to alleviate all the pressure she used to feel taking English tests.

“I probably would have drowned academically without Bridge,” she said.

So in two weeks, 10 strangers became great friends, and successfully completed their English class which allowed them to enroll in the freshman English composition class.

They also became leaders. When the incoming freshman arrived on campus, the Bridge students served as tour leaders for New Student Orientation and later in the College Success Class.

For many students, it gives them plenty of opportunities to “get them out of their shell.” Bria had actually met anyone from another country before until Bridge,

“It sets you up to be the adult you need to be,” she said.

There are still openings for this year’s Bridge To Success Program but the deadline is July 10. For program information contact Shannon Corder at 308-34508133 or email her at

Students in this program will move into Brooks Hall Aug. 6, begin the orientation Aug. 7 with group activities, tours and meals Aug. 8-9 with classes to run from Aug. 10-19

Fall-term classes begin Aug. 23.

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