Kent State’s Summer Advantage Wins Top Honor for Helping Students to Transition

Angel Cuevas is getting his college career back on track after an unfortunate event derailed it early in his college career.

The 21-year-old freshman who is majoring in aeronautical engineering suffered a rugby injury during his first semester in the fall of 2017, at which time he abruptly stopped his studies to recuperate.

As a way to jump-start his college career, Mr. Cuevas enrolled in Summer Advantage during the summer of 2018. The program is an educational journey based on career exploration, success coaching and academic coursework. Summer Advantage is designed to assist underrepresented students to graduate in four years and envision a path for the future by building a support network of peers and professional staff.

“During Summer Advantage, I caught up on my credits,” Mr. Cuevas said. “The program had valuable workshops on leadership, understanding diversity and professionalism.”

His is one of many success stories that led Kent State to receive the 2018 Institutional Excellence for Students in Transition Award, recently presented by the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition.

Since 2014, the National Resource Center has presented the annual award to institutions that have designed and implemented outstanding collaborative initiatives enhancing significant transitions during the undergraduate experience.

The center sets the standard for excellence in supporting students at critical junctures in the educational pipeline, and it seeks to promote intentional and integrative connections within and across institutions and educational sectors to enhance the student transition experience.

Award recipients demonstrated the effectiveness of the initiative in supporting student success, learning and development at a variety of transition points beyond the first college year and in responding to unique institutional needs.

“This award is an opportunity for our peers to identify that what we are doing is on the right track and innovative,” said Eboni Pringle, Ph.D., dean of University College. “It’s also another reminder of how important it is to focus on outcomes. What is most important is the ability to demonstrate that what we’re doing matters directly to our students.”

The Summer Advantage program grew from 51 students in 2017 to 186 in the summer of 2018 with students ranging in age from rising sophomores to seniors.

The program is a “holistic experience focused on academic wellness” that helps students determine how to make meaning out of their educational journey, how to maximize the opportunities that exist and how to prepare for the future beyond Kent State, said Elisha Swanson, assistant director of academic diversity outreach.

“Helping our students develop their passion is really impactful,” Ms. Swanson said.

Close to graduation, Summer Advantage participants often praise the program for having given them the opportunity to focus on finding their purpose and the steps needed to accomplish their goals.

“I met a whole community of students,” said Mr. Cuevas, whose participation in the Summer Advantage Program inspired him to become a student ambassador in the Key Connections program. “I even learned about nutrition. It was a great experience.”

Applications for Summer Advantage will be accepted Feb. 1-28, 2019. All undergraduate, underrepresented students – African-American, Latino American, Native American, and biracial/multiracial American – are encouraged to apply, Ms. Swanson said.

For more information about the University College at Kent State, visit

POSTED: Wednesday, January 9, 2019 12:00 PM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 06:00 AM
April McClellan-Copeland