COSAM News Articles 2022 October 25th Anniversary Summer Bridge Program Alumni Spotlight: Bell Rogers explains how this program changes so many lives

25th Anniversary Summer Bridge Program Alumni Spotlight: Bell Rogers explains how this program changes so many lives

Published: 10/11/2022

By: Matthew Gonzales

“This program,” Bell Rogers began, “it is my heart.” Twenty-four years ago, Rogers’ son, William Rogers IV began the STEM Summer Bridge program. Dr. Overtoun Jenda had begun STEM Summer Bridge the year before, and during the opening address he delivered, Rogers was immediately set at ease. “He made me feel safe, that my child would be taken care of.” Considering that this was occurring during the second year of the program, Jenda was searching for additional sponsors who would be able to help make sure the program could continue to reach more students. Rogers was happy to step into that role.

Since 1998, Rogers has been a consistent sponsor of the STEM Summer Bridge program and is an important member of the community that STEM Summer Bridge has created. In addition, she currently serves on the COSAM Office of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity (OIED) Advisory Board. Her love for STEM Summer Bridge is obvious, from her crediting the program for setting her son up for his current success to her ability to start a non-profit from the relationship she built with Jenda years ago. In addition to praising the version of STEM Summer Bridge her son participated in and the people who made it happen, Rogers also had words of praise for COSAM’s current leader of the program, Assistant Dean of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Dr. Kimberly Mulligan-Guy. “Dr. Mulligan brought the program to another level,” Rogers asserted, before she highlighted another important aspect of what makes Mulligan-Guy the right person to lead STEM Summer Bridge. “She is someone that the students know they can go to.”

Rogers feels that the greatest benefit the STEM Summer Bridge program provides is establishing a community of excellent students and bringing together these individuals who very well may be friends for life. In fact, Rogers’ son is still in contact with friends he made during his Summer Bridge experience. “I just think that’s wonderful,” she said with a smile. Looking to the future of STEM Summer Bridge, “let’s make it bigger,” Rogers said about where she would like to see the program develop over the next 25 years. She would like to see as many students as possible gain the program’s benefits and highlighted that beyond the community and friendships which are built, STEM Summer Bridge gives students the opportunity to be oriented to what it will be like to be an Auburn Tiger over the four-week on campus program. Most importantly perhaps, Rogers loves that this program lets students learn more about themselves and who they are through those relationships that are formed. She finished with a heartfelt statement about STEM Summer Bridge: “It changes so many lives.”   

COSAM will host events throughout the 2022-23 academic year to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Summer Bridge. Additionally, there is an initiative to raise $1 million dollars. These funds will be used by the COSAM Office of Inclusion, Equity, and Diversity to support initiatives such as creating an endowed professorship, providing study abroad opportunities, and expanding scholarship availability for deserving students. To learn more about the celebration and to donate, please visit the 25th Anniversary website.

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