Students get a second chance through Livingstone Bridge Program

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 28, 2018

Livingstone College

SALISBURY — It’s not every day you get a second chance to make a first impression. But at Livingstone College, it happens every summer.

Saturday was moving-in day for nearly 100 students participating in Livingstone’s 2018 Summer Bridge Program. It’s designed for students who have college potential but who do not meet admissions requirements for GPA, core courses, or ACT and SAT scores.

The six-week program gives students a second chance at a college education by putting them through a boot-camp style regimen that incorporates math, reading, writing, academic enrichment, devotion and workouts.

It’s not all work and no play, however. The students are exposed to fun activities and participate in field trips.

Those who complete the program are admitted as provisional students in the fall and given a $1,500 scholarship.

“This is crazy,” said Messiah Alston of Greensboro as he unpacked his bags Saturday. “I didn’t think I’d ever be in college. I thought I would drop out of high school a while ago. I never had much. I would always say, ‘I’d go to the streets before school.’”

He said his high school principal told him he was too smart to quit. Shortly afterward, a Livingstone College recruiter came to his high school and, for the first time, he considered college.

Jahmeel Aiken of Richmond, Virginia, Alston’s summer roommate, said the Bridge Program is equally “unbelievable” to him.

“I didn’t expect to be in college, and even if I did, I didn’t know where,” Aiken said.

He applied to Livingstone and learned about the Bridge Program. He said he and his high school counselor reviewed the program and thought it was his best option.

“If I were not here, I would be at home scratching my head,” Aiken said.

Defying the odds is part of the mission of the “holistic college total learning environment” created by Livingstone President Jimmy R. Jenkins Sr.

“This is the beginning of a new life change,” Jenkins told Bridge students in a videotaped message. “I hope you realize that you are being offered a life-changing opportunity. Our philosophy is that every student we recruit is capable of doing college-level work. We just need to make sure you prioritize and follow instructions.

“If you do that, you are going to be successful. … If you do what you’re supposed to do, I promise you, you will live a better life. Information is power and education is information.”

Bridge Director Sylvester Kyles said it will be challenging for the students, but the rewards for successful completion will be great as the students will be well-prepared for fall enrollment.

Kyles is assisted this summer by Ramona Hart, assistant director; Charvetta Ford, program assistant; Will McCorn and Jasmine Siler, associate coordinators; and a team of peer mentors.

For more information about the Bridge Program, visit