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January 29, 2013

Wheaton College Senior Class Announces Class Gift to BRIDGE Program

The Wheaton College Class of 2013 will establish a new scholarship for students who complete a College-based summer enrichment program that prepares high school students for college, class leaders announced today.

The Senior Class Gift tradition began in 1876, when graduating seniors planted trees on Blanchard Lawn to show appreciation to their alma mater. In recent years, gifts have supported scholarships for international students and enriched the Wheaton Fund, which lowers the cost of tuition for future students.

This year’s seniors are raising funds to increase the number of students who can attend Wheaton College after completing the Building Roads to Intellectual Diversity and Great Education (B.R.I.D.G.E.), an intensive, four-week residential academic enrichment and leadership program that brings together first-generation, low-income, or African-American or Latino students from the Chicago area who are interested in preparing for college.

The free, two-year summer program prepares Christian high school students for college through a curriculum that fosters their intellectual, leadership and spiritual growth.

B.R.I.D.G.E. was developed by Veronica Ponce-Navarrette ’08, who envisioned and proposed the program as a Wheaton student and now coordinates it.

The Senior Class Gift committee voted to fund a scholarship this past weekend after considering five proposals.

“Our class agreed that giving the gift of a Wheaton education was one of the most precious legacies we could pass on,” says senior class president Chelsea O’Donnell. “The senior class gift committee chose to participate in the formation of the B.R.I.D.G.E. scholarship because we believe it will enhance the school environment as well as our mission as a College.”

Wheaton College President Dr. Philip Ryken has established deepening ethnic diversity as one of several strategic priorities for Wheaton’s future.

“Living in a diverse learning community that values cultural differences enriches the Wheaton experience for everyone and honors God’s intention for the body of Christ,” Ryken says. “I’m pleased that our seniors have a vision for deepening ethnic diversity on campus, and that they are choosing to do so in such a tangible way.”

Eighty-five students have participated in the program since its inception in 2009. Program graduates have matriculated at 24 colleges including Wheaton College, Trinity Christian College, Olivet Nazarene University, Carleton College, Denison University, Tuskegee University, and Fisk University.

To join the senior class in supporting B.R.I.D.G.E., visit

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