Bridges bids farewell to longtime co-director, welcomes new staffer

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This is a time of year for change. We wake up every day to new growth in our natural world and surroundings. And springtime brings the end of a school year, graduations and new starts. We celebrate all of it!

Bridges Project, too, is in the midst of changes. Although we have been writing this column for eight years, this will be the last time we do it together. At the end of July, Sue will be retiring, but Joleen and Mackenzi Frederick will welcome Anne Weil to our staff. Bridges will continue to offer free, comprehensive college admissions and financial aid counseling to people of all ages in the Taos area, whether they want to pursue college or vocational degrees.

We are proud of the people we've had the opportunity to work with this year. They have worked hard to get to this point, putting a great deal of work into applications, filling out mounds of financial aid paperwork and applying for scholarships. Taos students have been recognized with prestigious scholarships from the Daniels Fund and Los Alamos National Labs and will soon hear about scholarships awarded by generous individuals, organizations and businesses in our community. We celebrate their progress and success.

There may be just a few more steps in the process, though. If students are planning to attend an out-of-state school, they have compared financial award letters and have recently contacted their school of choice with their decision. If they're going to attend an in-state two-year or four-year school, they still have more time to finalize their decision, but it's best to wrap things up as soon as possible.

Regardless of whether they will be enrolling at a college, university or trade school, they'll need to sign up for orientation. Some orientations take place online, but most are done on campus in person. Generally, incoming freshmen register for their classes when they go to orientation, and some schools even have orientation for parents.

Other matters to take care of are housing and any deposits required by schools. If students will be living on campus, they will need to research the dorms and meal plans available and decide on the package that best matches their style.

It has taken a community to join together in creating a bridge to this next phase of life. We'd like to thank all of the family members, counselors, registrars, teachers and scholarship donors who help students meet their dreams.

Over the past 19 years, Bridges has provided guidance to more than 2,600 people through what can be a complex system. Approximately 60 percent of the students we work with are from the first generation in their families to pursue higher education and qualify for need-based financial aid. To us, college counseling is a meaningful way to level the playing field and offer access to anyone who is interested in having a more powerful voice in all of the political, social, creative and entrepreneurial realms of our society.

We appreciate your interest in this column and thank those of you who have supported us and given us positive feedback. Bridges looks forward to its 20th anniversary in the fall and using this format as a way to highlight aspects of our history, services and vision. Our office will be open during the summer, and we invite you to schedule an appointment if you have any questions.

Montoya Dye and Goldberg are Bridges co-directors and college counselors.

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