Though known to most people as a common condiment, SALT at Goshen College is more than a seasoning. An acronym for Summer Academic Leadership Training, SALT is a program primarily for students of color and first-generation college students, many of whom are the recipients of scholarships that include the CIIE Scholarship, the Stoltzfus Diverse Leader Scholarship, and the Dream Scholarship.The program provides students with academic resources, development of leadership skills and an introduction to college life. As stated on the application, the program is an opportunity for students to train themselves with “healthy habits and good discipline required for success during your time at Goshen College.”
Workshops help promote student leadership skills and sharpen academic tools, including study tips, student resources on campus and an introduction to the heads of departments.
“It brings the information to the students, instead of the students having to find the information on their own,” DaVonne Kramer, diverse student programs coordinator and head of the SALT program, said. “It demystifies things. The students develop friendships and connections. The program also helps identify behaviors for success, and a sense of belonging.”
SALT strives to make the participants comfortable with college life by providing the participants with a tour of campus and having them stay in the dorms during the program.
“We played a lot of fun bonding games.” said first-year Lydia Beachy, a participant of this year’s SALT program. “It was really nice. The majority of us are minorities and it’s nice to have something in common, people who understand what we go through.”
Indeed, fostering a sense of community and ethnic identity is a crucial part of SALT program goals.
“It can be a very different dynamic, being a student of color on a predominantly Caucasian campus,” Kramer said.
The SALT program simultaneously works to introduce the students to the Mennonite identity affiliated with Goshen College. A trip to Menno-Hof is part of this merging of cultures for new students, helping the students to get to know their new community while introducing the community to new students. But the program does not stop once the participants attend classes—SALT continues for all four years, with regular meetings to advance leadership training and retain a sense of community amongst the members.
The program coordinators strive to make the participants feel firmly a part of the Goshen College community. Kramer said that by the end of the week, all the participants agreed that they felt more confident about the coming school year.
“It helps form a community with other students, to ease nerves and confusion and become familiar with campus,” Kramer said.