Scripps Inaugurates Intensive Summer Program for Highschoolers

This coming June, 30 high school students will spend two weeks on campus immersed in an invigorating and exciting new program called the Summer Academy. The goal of the program, backed by seed money from the James Irvine Foundation, is to have young women from under-represented backgrounds experience first-hand what it is like to live and study at a private liberal arts college and master critical skills that will further prepare them for and ultimately succeed in higher education.

Program Goals

Designed for young women from racially diverse and economically under-represented groups who have completed the ninth or tenth grade. The program will introduce students to four major areas of study examined in college- fine arts, humanities/letters, natural sciences, and social sciences–within the context of an exploration of race, class, and gender.

Rufina Cortez. director of the Summer Academy explained: “The program will be intentional in providing participants with the resources they need to compete for the best colleges and universities. We are truly committed to these studems and to their acdemic achievement and personal growth.”

“The success of the program will be measured in large part by how the participants engage and believein the unlimited possibilities that are accessible to them,” Cortez continued. “It is our responsibility, obligation. and commitment to make sure that these young women access this reality. They are our future administrators, doctors, economists, educators, engineers, lawyers, mathematician, politicians, producers/directors, professors, researchers, scientists–they are our future leaders. We want participants to consider a liberal arts institution such as Scripps as a possible place for them to invest in their education.”


Cortex, who began working last summer with a Scripps task force of faculty, staff, and students to establish the Summer Academy, is anticipating 100 or more applicants from public and parochial high schools from the greater Los Angeles area. “We also welcome nominations from alumnae, staff, community organizations, churches, and others who may know of young women who can benefit from the Summer Academy.” she said. The program will accept 30 applicants this year.

“Two weeks away from home will be a challenge for many of the young women, as well as for their families,” predicts Cortex. To ease the way, the Scripps Summer Academy Task Force has addressed such questions as: “What do we need to do as an institution to meet the needs of these students?” “How can we best provide them with information and other resources to further broaden their knowldege, familiarity, and access to iberal arts institutions?” “How do we involve and engage parents in the process?”

“We want to create a space for them to to help them think and openly talk about their ambitions.” said Cortez. “There are so many opportunities available and so much promise in our youth.”

Two Weeks at Scripps

Academy participants will live in a ScrippS residence hall, along with Scripps’student resident advisers., facilitators, and other program staff. Seven Scripps faculty members-professors Mary Hatcher-Skeers, Julie Liss, Nancy Macko, Amy Marcus-Newhall, Nancy Neiman Auerbach, Jane O’Donnell, and Sheila Walker–will teach classes during the day.

“The emphasis will be on developing and enhancing their analytical skills,” said Cortez. Students also will work with faculty members and facilitators on writing, discussion, and presentation skills and will collaborate on a group project. In addition to the academic curriculum, there also will be co-curricular and extra-curricular workshops, activities, and excursions designed to promote open discussion on aspects of college and career choices, study skills, money management and literacy, race/class issues, as well as other areas of relevance and importance.

Keeping in Touch

After the students finish their two weeks at Scripps, a continued relationship between the institution and participants will persist throughout their high school career and beyond. “We want to make them part of our Scripps community by extending invitations to various events throughout the year, including their participation as student panelists for next year’s Summer Academy orientation and invite them to return to Scripps for a follow-up day,” explained Cortez. “We want their experience in the program to be such that they will return to their families, schools, and extended communities empowered with the knowledge to navigate the educational system to the degree that they will position themselves for admission to the most selective colleges and universities.”

There will be further follow-up with participants and their schools to assess the impact the program had on them. Did grades and analytical skills improve? How many program participants applied to private liberal arts colleges? And where did they ultimately go?

Alumnae Involvement

Cortez, who is completing her Master of Arts in education with the emphasis in higher education at Claremont Graduate University while she heads the Summer Academy, welcomes involvement by alumnae and others in support of the program. “We have a three-year grant from the James Irvine Foundation. We are seeking additional funds for program sustainability.”

Cortez looks forward to continuing her interest in educational outreach efforts that has taken her from a major in sociology and Chicano studies at UC Santa Barbara to her work as advocacy coordinator within student affairs and now to her present position at Scripps.

She said. with enthusiasm, “This is my stand, commitment, and passion.”