While other recent high school graduates were enjoying the last vestiges of summer before starting college, three young women, from across the country, began their freshman year early by participating in the FreshSTART Summer Program, piloted by the Department of Navy HBCU/MI, in collaboration with Bennett College. The program, which spanned six-weeks during the summer, was designed to support incoming college students by providing them with an academic boost upon entering their respective institutions.
During this enriching summer program, three remarkable incoming Bennett College Freshwomen, Ambriell Brooks, Aaliyah “Ajax” Fowler, and Agury Suazo, devoted themselves to a curriculum that encompassed essential subjects such as computer sciences, college algebra, pre-calculus, physics, biology, and chemistry. This intensive academic regimen was meticulously designed to build a strong foundation in STEM disciplines, ensuring that these students are well-prepared for the challenges of higher education.
Beyond academic pursuits, the FreshSTART Belles also honed essential soft skills such as effective communication, presentation, and interpersonal abilities. The young women worked diligently over the summer in both the classroom space and in the lab to develop a capstone presentation to showcase their skills and new knowledge. Each young woman brought a different personality and perspective to the task, but they all brought their A-game.
The guidance and expertise of the Bennett College Biology department, led by Candice Thompson Young (Lead Coordinator & Assistant Professor of Biology), Regan Moore, PhD (Assistant Professor of Biology), and supported by summer adjunct faculty professors Jessica Bennett, Antonia Lamberth, and Alton Harrell, were instrumental in providing the students with the necessary tools to excel in the FreshSTART coursework and capstone presentations.
Ambriell, Aaliyah, and Agury presented their FreshSTART capstone projects to an audience that included Bennett College President Suzanne Elise Walsh, JD, college faculty and staff, and distinguished representatives from the Department of Navy: David Rawlins (FreshSTART Lead Coordinator Supporting Department of Navy HBCU/MI Programs), and Clarence Brown (Program Manager Supporting Department of Navy HBCU/MI Programs).
The FreshSTART scholars covered a diverse range of research topics during their presentations:
- Ambriell Brooks delved into “Electromicrobiology: Microbial Fuel Cells.”
- Aaliyah “Ajax” Fowler explored “Aquaponics: Water Quality and Soil Composition.”
- Agury Suazo investigated “Microbial Photocatalytics: Ultraviolet Damage and DNA.”
During the presentations, the FreshSTART scholars expressed their profound gratitude for this unique experience, emphasizing how it has better equipped them for college and fostered a strong sense of sisterhood. They unanimously described the experience as “life-changing.”
Bennett College commends these diligent scholars for their exceptional achievements and outstanding presentations.