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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Last summer, Shelby Smith wasn't sure she was college material.
To attend Indiana State University, she had to participate in the LEAP summer bridge program, which lasts three weeks and provides instruction in basic skills needed to succeed in college. "I was nervous that college wasn't for me and I didn't belong in the college setting," Smith said.
But LEAP mentors helped her gain self-confidence and realize, "I don't give myself enough credit for how smart I actually am," she said.
Now an ISU freshman majoring in athletic training, she received special honors Tuesday during ISU's Center for Student Success 2015 awards ceremony. She received an academic excellence award and a Blue Leaf Award that also recognized her community service and campus involvement.
By the end of last semester, she had achieved a 3.6 grade-point average, and a 3.8 GPA in classes for her major.
"I just applied myself and I had a lot of people behind me to help me succeed and get those grades," she told the Tribune-Star (http://bit.ly/1Krsk2L ) before the program at Hulman Memorial Student Union. She is from Indianapolis.
The Center for Student Success conducts an annual awards ceremony that celebrates the academic achievement, community service and campus involvement of students who participate in its programs.
The programs include LEAP summer bridge, 21st Century Scholars, Tutoring and Supplemental Instruction Program, Student-Athlete Support Services, FirstSycamores Faculty mentoring program and Student Support Services for first-generation, low-income and disabled students.
Freshmen and sophomores in these programs who earned a 3.0 grade-point average and higher last semester were honored with Academic Excellence awards. Also, a model student in each of the programs was recognized with a Blue Leaf Award. Some programs honored their student workers for outstanding service.
"All students being honored are role models for other students," said Roberta Allen, director of the Center for Student Success. Smith received the LEAP Blue Leaf award.
More than 100 students were honored and another 100 people, including family members, attended as guests.
Others recognized for academic excellence included freshmen Courtland Thomas and Ashley Sabins, who are roommates. Thomas is majoring in exercise science, Sabins in elementary and special education. Both participated in the LEAP program and both help motivate each other.
Thomas said she didn't do so well in high school and graduated with about a 2.3 GPA, "and that's how I got into LEAP." Last semester at ISU, she achieved a 3.9 GPA. Mandatory weekly study hours as part of LEAP helped a lot, she said. LEAP now continues throughout participants' freshman year.
Mentors also check in with them regularly to make sure they are on track. "I didn't do too well in high school and I always will regret that," said Thomas of Corydon. "Now that I'm in college, I want to do great so I can go on to become an occupational therapist."
During the program, one proud mother shouted, "That's my baby," as her son went up to be recognized for his academic achievement. "I couldn't contain myself. ... That's my baby and I'm so proud of him," Soyica Stanfield said in an interview.
Her son is James Mitchell, a freshman from Indianapolis. When he was in eighth grade, Stanfield deployed to Afghanistan with the Air Force, which affected Mitchell's grades as he started high school; after she returned his freshmen year of high school, his grades improved.
Mitchell played a lot of sports in high school and hopes to participate in athletics at ISU. So far, his freshman year at ISU is going well, he said.
Stanfield cited one adviser in particular who has worked closely with her son. Mitchell is doing well academically and also has become involved with different clubs. "My social life is good," he said.
"He's been doing excellent," his mother said.
During the program, Provost Jack Maynard praised students for their accomplishments and encouraged them to continue on toward their degree, even when times get tough. "Don't give up. You and no one else controls your future," he said.
Josh Powers, associate vice president for student success, also praised the students for their successes. He told them to continue believing in themselves, "despite what others and what life may throw your way."
Information from: Tribune-Star, http://www.tribstar.com
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