Chicago Students Immersed in Pre-College Experiences


ACI Conference - View PhotogalleryEach summer, Trinity gives students from Chicago area high schools two illuminating opportunities to engage in a college experience. College Quest and the Associated Colleges of Illinois (ACI) Summer Academy help prepare students for the next step after high school graduation.

College Quest

For the third year, students from high schools in the Noble Network of charter schools were immersed in college life through Trinity’s College Quest program, directed by Tabitha Matthews, coordinator for community service and pre-college programs.

During the three-week program in July, 13 students worked diligently to earn three college credits in one of two courses offered: American History, taught by Dr. David Brodnax, associate professor of history; and Introduction to Psychology, taught by Dr. Jessica Clevering, assistant professor of psychology.

Afternoon academic coaching sessions with Cynthia Coffey ’15 and Fred Walls ’16 taught skills that equip students to be successful college learners. Students resided in Alumni Hall under the guidance of Resident Assistants Jacob Chase ’13 and Noel Huddleston ’17.

Associate Colleges of Illinois (ACI)

Trinity’s nine-year partnership with ACI focuses on college readiness as the College hosts students for one week each summer in July.

The intensive residential experience provides a mentoring structure in which high school students interact with professors, enroll in their choice of two of three courses, and receive coaching in such areas as goal setting, the college search, college application completion, and college essay writing.

This year, 42 juniors representing five Noble Network high schools chose between classes in environmental science, taught by Dr. Abbie Schrotenboer, assistant professor of biology; math, taught by Susan Donovan, adjunct professor; and communications, taught by Darren Zancan, assistant professor of communication arts.

“Trinity offers an extraordinary setting for ACI’s Summer Academy,” said Jerry Fuller, executive director of the Associated Colleges of Illinois. “Trinity provides a sterling example of the academic and social milieu of a small, private, residential liberal arts college. Students sense that Trinity faculty and staff are driven by clear values and beliefs and that they truly care about the welfare of the students they serve.”

Fuller explained that many of the students have never traveled outside the city of Chicago and might never have considered a school like Trinity as an option. “Thanks to Trinity, our Summer Academy students only have to travel 40 minutes to experience what it might be like to attend a mission-driven college like this one,” he said. “We really appreciate the hospitality and expertise Trinity brings to this program.”

College life also includes a social aspect. Each evening, students enjoyed activities on and off campus that strengthened friendships and instilled the deep sense of community Trinity values.

Trinity staff, alumni, and students served in various roles, including:

Mark Hanna, Director

Tabitha Matthews, Assistant Director

John Baldauff, Coach

Rochelle Burks ’14, Coach

Tippi Price, Coach

Kara VanMarion, Coach

Latishia Elliott, Residence Director

Paige Alston ’15, Resident Assistant

Josh Hauck ’15, Resident Assistant

Karyn Jones ’17, Resident Assistant

Brandon Taylor ’14, Resident Assistant


Psychology major Joshua Hauck ’15 of Sterling, Illinois, served as resident assistant, a role he said utilized his classroom learning and prepared him for work as a future Trinity RA.

“It was great to work with these students. They are only 16, know what they want, and they’re striving for it,” Hauck said. “It is a wonderful position to be in when you have the influence to encourage them and let them know the future can be unexpected and full of surprises but you don’t have to be discouraged. These students are all great young adults, and I am glad I was able to get to know them.”