Meneya Harris was
looking forward, a little nervously, to her freshman year at the
University of Delaware when she heard about a program that she
immediately saw as a perfect opportunity.
Through the NUCLEUS
academic support program, she learned, a select group of incoming
first-year students in the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) could take
part in a summer pilot program designed to ease their academic and
personal transition to college. Harris, a graduate of Glasgow High
School who plans to major in biological sciences at UD, was eager to
“I thought this would help me be ahead of the game,” she said. “I’d
be able to earn some course credits, make some friends, learn my way
around campus — and it’s free. It’s a perfect program.”
The five-week summer program is supported by a
grant from the Navient Foundation. Organizers hope to build on the
success of the initial small groups of participants and expand it in the
The program, which began in 2014, doesn’t support living on campus, so students must be
able to commute, and most live in northern Delaware. Funding covers the
cost of books, parking and other fees, in addition to tuition.
Students in the program take a regular summer-session course — which
they select from a short list of recommended three-credit classes that
fulfill University breadth requirements — and a weekly “student success
seminar” designed to help them adapt to life and learning at UD.
Speakers share information about such resources as the Career Services
Center and Center for Counseling and Student Development, and the
students learn how to use Morris Library and to find their way around
Participants are also introduced to NUCLEUS, which offers resources
to students throughout their undergraduate careers. The support program,
which is open to all CAS students, fosters academic excellence by
providing comprehensive academic services, connections, opportunities
“All the students in the summer program join NUCLEUS, and we make
sure they know the resources we offer and that they can always come to
our office if they need help and aren’t sure where to start,” said
Rosalind Johnson, assistant CAS dean for student success.
Destiny Mahmood, who took part in this summer’s program after
graduating from Mount Pleasant High School, said she was unfamiliar with
NUCLEUS at first but now believes “it’s going to be really helpful” to
her as a UD student.
“And this summer program has helped me focus the way I think about
majors, careers and how to study,” said Mahmood, who plans to major in
psychological and brain sciences. “I don’t think I would have done that
on my own, at least not this early.”
Another benefit has been seeing UD and its people firsthand before
the start of freshman year, said Ayline Mejia, a William Penn High
School graduate who has a communication interest major.
“I’ve been able to see what classes and professors are like, how the
other students interact with them and each other,” Mejia said.
To Carly Meluney, the academic program manager who led the weekly
student seminar this summer, the rise in self-confidence among the
participants has been apparent.
“I feel like I’ve seen them grow and develop their comfort level even
in just this short time,” she said. “Having that confidence is helpful
in so many ways — participating in class, talking to a professor if you
have questions, seeking out resources if you need help.”
On the last day of the seminar, neuroscience major Maria Kontis came
to the classroom to talk about her experiences with NUCLEUS and the
“I was in your seat two years ago,” she told the group, adding that
she’s now on track to graduate this spring, after three years at UD.
“NUCLEUS has helped me every semester as I planned my schedule, and I
found a great sense of community there. Their doors are always open;
they say that, and it’s really true.”
Article by Ann Manser; photo by Evan Krape