Summer 2014 featured the graduation of the second cohort of Saint Mary’s University college preparation program,Countdown to College. Twenty-one rising 12th graders completed their four years in C2C with flying colors! Their accomplishments include impressive gains on nationally-standardized literacy tests and high performance in their science and math courses.

Collecting water samples from Lake Winona and a local drainage ditch (yuck?) comprised part of our credit-bearing science course for Year 3 and 4. Nineteen of our 21 graduates earned college credit for our two-year science course, Introduction to Watershed Management, taught by Saint Mary’s faculty: Drs. Nate Lien, Moni Berg-Binder, and Joshua Lallaman.Literacy gains for our second C2C graduates match those of the first cohort, and the number of students who appear to need developmental reading courses when they enter college has been reduced 50% in both cohorts. These replicated results provide strong support for Saint Mary’s academic boot camp model for preparing underrepresented students for college success.

Kudos to the faculty who made these student gains possible. This year, Saint Mary’s instructors from both the undergraduate college (Todd Iverson, Kevin Dennis, Erin Mae Clark, Peggy Johnson, Molly Lohnes, Moni Berg-Binder, Nate Lien, Josh Lallaman) and our SGPP graduate programs (Susan Moore, Peggy Westlund) were joined by three teachers from Cotter and Winona High School (Anne Conway, Ross Herdina, and Melissa Shields).

But C2C 2014 was not all work. On their way to explore water quality in Whitewater State Park, our Year 3 students stopped at a local milking parlor. That this was a new experience for our urban students is evident in this photo. Exposure to different environments and experiences is an integral part of our summer camp: Our goal is to help our students feel comfortable in whatever environment they choose after high school graduation. And hopefully, that will include college here at Saint Mary’s.


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