Mish Wilson, they/them, was looking for a way to gain college experience before she stepped foot onto the University of Vermont campus as a first-year student. Mish originally grew up in Jamaica but always had the goal of attending college in the States. After completing 9th grade in high school, Mish moved to the U.S. with her mother.
“Going to college from the States, while in the States, is a lot easier than going to college in the U.S. from Jamaica,” said Mish. She quickly realized that many of the courses she took in Jamaica didn’t translate to a high school transcript in the U.S. Once she got established in America, she and her family developed a plan for her to retake some of the classes to catch up.
As an incoming first-year student at the University of Vermont, Mish was able to join the Summer Enrichment Scholars Program which is offered to incoming students of color, first-generation college students, and/or students from limited income backgrounds. The program, through The Mosaic Center for Students of Color, offers students an opportunity to take a course resulting in college credit the summer before school starts.
Mish knew she was planning to study Data Science at UVM, but she has always had a love of the arts. “My family even jokes that I’m a STEM student who looks like an art kid.” In order to add more to her transcript and satisfy her creative side, she decided the Summer Academy Storytelling with Photographs 3-credit course was the perfect way to get a jump on her college career.
In the class, taught by UVM Professor Andrew Frost, MFA, Mish learned the foundational skills of photography and how to tell stories through images. Even though she says wasn’t a person who liked to take photos, she enjoyed the readings, sharing her opinions on the articles, the discussions with her peers in the class, and exploring her world through the lenses of a camera. “I really felt like the class was intended to encourage students to be creative and express themselves through photography, and that it turned out, for me… who doesn’t take pictures very often, super fun.”
High school students like Mish who may be planning to focus on a science or math degree in college, may not be drawn to a Summer Academy art class, at first. But Mish says that it was one of the best decisions she ever made. “The course was so relaxing. I’m not saying it was easy, but if you are like me with a focus so much on math, this course was amazing because there are formulas to worry about. Photography has no formula, it’s just you, going out there and being creative.”
Taking the Summer Academy course allowed her meet fellow incoming UVM students and feel connected to Burlington. “I’m a super outdoorsy person, so I can’t wait to go rock climbing and camping. I am also an extrovert, so I can’t wait to talk with people on campus. The Summer Academy course, really does expose you to the environment that you are about to come into.”
Mish’s final word of advice to high school students on whether or not to take a summer course at UVM through Summer Academy, “you are getting college credits at a reduced price. You’re saving money right there; I’m just putting that out there.”