New Signature Programs: Where Simon’s Rock Students Go, Opportunity Follows

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Last spring, Bard College at Simon’s Rock students Joelle Chevrier ’08 and Abbie Nehring ’07 helped lay the groundwork at two of the College’s newest Signature Programs: Qingdao University and St. Catherine’s College, Oxford.

Qingdao is Signature Programs 2China’s second oldest university and lies at the center of a city of eight million people. St. Catherine’s College, one of Oxford University’s most diverse colleges, is recognized for its students’ devotion to academic excellence and the strong reputation of its arts programs.

Back home, Simon’s Rock faculty member David Myers facilitated an articulation agreement between Simon’s Rock and State University of New York (SUNY) Upstate Medical University.

SUNY is a center for leading biomedical research, with the resources of one of the country’s largest university systems.

Student ambassadors
As several students of Chinese worked their way to Qingdao, they found an exceptional setting for taking their language skills to the next level. Qingdao  University found students who were committed to academic rigor and an engrossing experience. Now, the relationship has been formalized as a Signature Program.

Joelle Chevrier, now a senior, attended the program in Qingdao while it was still in development. For her, study in China was a necessity: She plans to receive a PhD in Chinese and teach at the university level. “I was able to experience an academic environment completely different to that at Simon’s Rock in another country at a large university. I became a member of a completely international community of students united in their efforts to learn Chinese in the language program.” After a semester at Qingdao, she spent the summer in Hong Kong and southern China with several other students on a research trip with Professor Chris Coggins. Coggins spoke about their research on WAMC’s Academic Minute.

Piloting the new program at St. Catherine’s, Abbie Nehring, also a senior, was immersed in Oxford’s tutorial system, studying in-depth and one-on-one with the authors of the texts she was assigned to read.

A historian, Nehring’s time abroad encouraged her to shift her focus to comparative history from American studies. Now she’s working on her senior thesis, which is a direct extension of a work experience in Kenya. “There was once a time when graduates of Oxford traveled to East Africa to work as colonial administrators. Now we go to work for small nonprofits. There’s a history there between higher education in Kenya and the UK that I’m really interested in.”

Simon’s Rock Scholars at Oxford was the first Signature Program. Students in the first phase of the program studied at Lincoln College, where they had all the rights and responsibilities of regular full-time Oxford students. The expansion to St. Catherine’s, with a similarly strong liberal arts core but a more arts-focused student body, was a natural growth.

Inspired by the strength of Simon’s Rock students
When Dr. Signature Programs 1Steven Youngentob, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at SUNY, came to Simon’s Rock to speak on his research, he was so impressed with our students that he proposed an articulation agreement. Now, it’s come to fruition.

Professor David Myers, the faculty liaison for the SUNY Upstate program, notes the significance of the articulation agreement. “They accept only 20 students a year into their biomedical PhD program, and only about 10–12 for the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, though 120 apply. The Signature Program is the result of SUNY offering to guarantee a spot in each of these programs for a Simon’s Rock student. For me, that really speaks to our strength.”

Signature Programs build on the academic core at Simon’s Rock by offering students experiences on other campuses as unique and engaging as what they’ve come to expect.

When our students leave campus, they look for a challenge with the same tenacity that brought them to Simon’s Rock. That’s exactly what they find in the Signature Programs. “At Simon’s Rock, I appreciate so much the level of engagement that is expected of you in class and in turn your right as a student to knock on a professor’s door anytime to have a chat about a paper,” Nehring explains. “At the same time, I don’t think I’d take full advantage of these things if I hadn’t had the experience abroad that I did.”