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Bridge program helps Black students succeed

Michael Thomas
Life Reporter

Transformation, empowerment, and success for Humber College Black students are the goals of The Bridge program, said Martina Douglas.

The engagement and retention program was developed by Beverly-Jean Daniel, a former professor with the School of Social and Community Services.

Douglas, the Student Support Advisor of Bridge program and diversity initiatives, said it has been supporting Black students for seven years. It hosts workshops, discussing topics including dealing with developing strategies to overcome adversity, at both North and Lakeshore campuses.

Bridge is a support for students who identify as African and Caribbean.

“It’s also more than a program, it’s a support, it’s a home away from home,” Douglas said.
Bridge involves strategies that can be used academically but the programs remain outside of the college system, she said. She describes the relationships fostered by the student retention and engagement program akin to family.

She said Bridge offers workshops that teach presentation and leadership skills plus self-identity workshops, tutoring, job and volunteering opportunities.

There are also culturally specific events that students typically don’t get to see on campus, and all this is done through an Afrocentric lens, Douglas said.

“The program itself allows students to become more motivated and engaged because they are able to meet more like-minded people,“ she said.
Students such as 19-year-old Keithtian Green a first-year Bachelor of Nursing student from the Caribbean can use these resources.

“Being Black in a non-Caribbean country, I am able to speak and my experience is validated here. It’s like being home all over again,” Green said.

“The program helps keep me motivated even when it gets difficult, and it does sometimes, therefore Bridge to her is everything in one,” she said.

Shawna Breakenridge Ruglass, 33, a second-year recreation and leisure student, shares the same feelings about Bridge.
“As a mature student who has been out of the school system for some time it was challenging at first but this program supports me academically and creates opportunities too,” she said.

Ruglass said interacting with other international students from Latin America and Africa has given her a different perspective on things, and working with younger students is a two-way street where they all learn from each other.

Douglas said Bridge is all about coming together not to complain, but to excel at good things.

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