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Bridging The Gap
Terrance Shannon and Nick O'Leary pose with a child during a visit to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.

Terrance Shannon and Nick O'Leary pose with a child during a visit to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.

Jan. 23, 2012

This past summer, the Florida State Athletic Department welcomed 41 first-time Florida State student-athletes representing football, baseball, soccer, volleyball, men's and women's basketball, swimming and diving and golf through a transitioning program called "Summer Bridge". Summer Bridge is a program in its sixth year where student-athletes arrive on campus for a weeklong introduction to the academic, athletic and campus lifestyle of Florida State. Student-athletes were involved in activities pertaining to academics such as mock lectures given by current Florida State professors, time management and the importance of tutoring. The Summer Bridge program finished the week with a community service event at the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where they visited children and teens.

During each evening, when academics and athletics were not the main focus, the Summer Bridge staff, led by Jennifer Santiago, led activities based on character building and good decision-making. The student-athletes participated in games and different fun activities like "Get to know you" games, bowling and a trip to Funstation. However, there were just as many serious and situational discussions that were intended to open the eyes of our student-athletes. The student-athletes were exposed to financial, academic, and social situations where they would have to not only make the best decision for themselves, but the best decision for their family, institution and everything they represent. This is probably the most beneficial and valuable part of Summer Bridge.

The Summer Bridge staff is made up of current student-athletes who served as mentors. These current student-athletes are the final piece of the puzzle for this program. They not only mentor the incoming class of new Seminoles but also initiate a mentoring process for the rest of their time at Florida State University. However, it also a great experience for the current student-athletes, who realize that they are role models for not only the community but younger teammates as well.

Florida State wants every student-athlete, especially the incoming freshmen and transfers, to know that these are the most important but memorable years of any person's life. The Florida State Athletic Department staff wants to do everything in their power to get each class of new Seminole student-athletes off to a great first step. Summer Bridge 2011 was a huge success. There were great staff, student-athlete mentors, and student-athlete participation. We look forward to seeing these student-athletes grow, not only as students or athletes, but also as mature men and women.

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