Getting a head start at college

Mount HEOP freshmen complete summer training program
August 07, 2017


Well in advance of the coming Fall 2017 semester, six incoming freshmen recently got a jumpstart on their Mount Saint Mary College career.

The students, part of the college’s Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), participated in the Mount’s Summer Academic Institute, an intensive five-week residency program. The institute focuses on preparing HEOP students for college life through academic and leadership training, acclimation with academic resources, one-on-one tutoring, and the opportunity to earn four college credits prior to their fall semester.

The students, affectionately referred to as “The Six” by the HEOP staff, took classes in writing, math, computer science, and the liberal arts; participated in a pre-freshman forum which taught study skills and instilled the timeliness, humility, and leadership qualities necessary for academic success; and participated in team building exercises including hiking Mount Beacon together.

Christian Lorenzo of Park Hill, N.Y. explained that the group grew to treat one another like family.

The program “molded all of us to be better individually, academically, and socially,” he revealed. “We had a slogan throughout the five weeks – if it’s not about ‘The Six,’ there’s something we have to fix.”

Oscar Carrasco of Hunts Point, N.Y., who was named HEOP Class of 2021 Representative, recounted the hard work he and his fellow peers had to put in to complete their classes.

“We would be in the library from 5 to 12 every night, which really prepared us for the fall, since that’s what you have to do in college,” he said. He added that the HEOP staff encouraged the students to “always be yourself, stay humble, and remember where you’re from” throughout their time at the Mount.

Lorenzo echoed this sentiment, noting that they were motivated to work hard and make their families proud.

At the closing ceremony, Harmony Cross, Mount HEOP director, praised the students for a job well done.

“The purpose of such a rigorous summer program is to prepare these students for the demanding schedule they will face at the Mount,” she explained. “I am extremely proud of each of ‘The Six.’”

Orin Strauchler, assistant dean of Student Support Services and director of counseling at the Mount, noted that although this program was only the first of many challenges they will face, the students had reached a milestone.

“This was the first big test as a college student, and you all passed with flying colors,” he said

The scholars will have the opportunity to rest for a few weeks before returning to begin classes on August 28.

For Lorenzo, he’s already thinking ahead to graduation.

“Think long term when things get hard,” he said to fellow participants. “We’ll all be smiling at the end when we walk across that stage and get our diplomas.”


Harmony Cross, director of HEOP at Mount Saint Mary College (right), commends the HEOP Class of 2021 on their accomplishments during the Mount’s Summer Academic Institute.