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Celebrating the 45th Anniversary of the Milli Rotman Shime Academic Bridging Program
 
It’s known as a “life-changing experience” and this year Woodsworth College’s Academic Bridging Program celebrates 45 years of expanding access to the University of Toronto.
 
The program is designed for students aged 19 and up who have been away from formal education for a while before considering a university education. It literally bridges the gap between a student’s prior education and the demands of first year courses. “Those interested in seeking undergraduate studies may have the notion that U of T is not an option for them because they don’t meet the usual requirements,” says Winnie Wong-Nicholson, associate registrar of the program, “but not everyone is a traditional student who applies right after high school so the Academic Bridging Program provides these “non-traditional” students with an opportunity to explore and pursue post-secondary education.”  
 
Launched in 1967 as the Pre-University Program offering a preparatory course for university, it has grown to become not only the oldest but the largest access program of its kind in North America.  In 2000 the program was incorporated into the Faculty of Arts and Science and renamed the Millie Rotman Shime Academic Bridging program.  The late Manny Rotman, who received his Bachelor’s Degree from Woodsworth College in 1985 at age 76, and who together with his family made a generous donation to the program, wished to commemorate his daughter Millie’s memory by helping others who share her passion for learning. Since it’s inception more than 9800 students have enrolled in the program, with the majority going on to studies in the Faculty of Arts & Science.
 
Senior lecturer and program instructor J. Barbara Rose, herself a graduate of the program, has witnessed first-hand how the program can transform lives: “Students who were disaffected in high school suddenly catch fire. Even if not all students go onto university, the program has been a catalyst in changing many lives.”
 
One such example is Jacquelyn Laurenda, a mother of three with a weak academic record who doubted she would ever be able to attend university but was still “hungry for an education.”  “The Academic Bridging Program,” she says, “offers a second seating at the academic banquet for people like me who missed the first seating for any number of reasons.”  Laurenda seized that opportunity and has just completed her first year of undergraduate studies with a 93% average. 
 
There are many other examples of former Bridging students who have gone on to great success, from Bronfman scholarship winners to those graduating with “high distinction.” Most of them credit the Academic Bridging Program for easing them into university level studies and, most importantly, “turning their lives around.” 
 
To celebrate this remarkable access program and all the achievements of its alumni, a 45th anniversary reception will be held in Kruger Hall Commons, Woodsworth College, on October 2 from 6 to 8pm.  All graduates of the program are welcome to attend. Please see calendar section for more details.
 
For more information about the program visit: 
www.wdw.utoronto.ca/bridging