By Colleen Lockwood, Director, Broward County Local College Access Network, Bridge 2 Life
Three years ago, Bridge 2 Life (B2L), Broward County’s local college access network, established a Student Digital Content Creator (DCC) team to build a platform for students to communicate college and career readiness information to their peers. Since its inception, the focus has extended beyond enhancing students’ critical thinking and technical design skills to encompass the art of effective storytelling.
B2L enlists students from 17 specific high schools, where there is a significant concentration of Black and brown students as well as those from economically disadvantaged families. The selection process for potential team members is rigorous. It begins with candidates submitting a writing sample explaining their interest in joining the team, a self-assessment of their proficiency with relevant tools, and samples of their graphic and video design work. This initial step is followed by a review by existing DCC team members, who decide whether to onboard new candidates. These candidates are given a two-week period to demonstrate their skill level before formal induction into the team.
One of our recent additions, Sebastian Fidelia, shared the following thoughts in his application:
“Throughout my high school journey, I’ve expanded my horizons and sense of purpose. There were goals I once thought unattainable, such as attending an Ivy League school, simply because I didn’t understand the path to get there. Now, it’s clear. Why? Because I’ve had the opportunity to research and discover what it takes. I’ve learned about valuable scholarships, crafting college essays, and other essential topics through mentors and organizations I’ve been involved with. I’ve seized opportunities and now boast a well-rounded resume and invaluable experience. All this growth and access to knowledge has been possible because I’ve learned from friends and faculty around me. I believe B2L streamlines this process, consolidating crucial college information into digestible and enjoyable videos. The fact that it’s led by peers not only makes it more comprehensible but also more relatable. I want to be part of the youth driving this vital mission forward.
I only wish I had discovered B2L earlier, as I struggled to comprehend certain aspects of college when I began high school, leading to inadequate planning. I wouldn’t want anyone to experience the same setbacks I did. Everyone has the potential for success, and all they need is determination, motivation, and information. I recognize the significance of B2L, and I believe I can help countless more people discover its value.”
The team convenes weekly to review assignments from the previous week and select tasks for the upcoming one.
The primary focus of the students is creating digital content related to various college readiness topics. On a week-to-week basis, they delve into scholarly articles and research local and national student support services to craft informative videos about topics such as the FAFSA, scholarships, financial aid, college applications, essay writing, campus life, the value of higher education, resilience, and STEM-related career pathways. Beyond imparting digital skills and real-world work experience, our program empowers students to use their voices effectively to connect with and engage their peers.
The high quality of content produced by B2L students has garnered national and global recognition. Here are a few examples:
- In January of this year, Appily, the national college readiness platform, contacted us, seeking our interns to create paid digital content for their social media platforms. B2L DCCs have been posting content on Appily’s accounts since April.
- In 2022, one of our interns, who had knowledge of the maritime industry, was recruited to create a video for the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency based in London.
- In mid-2022, the B2L DCC program was selected to participate as a national cohort member of a two-year National Science Foundation pre-college STEM program.
B2L DCCs serve as peer ambassadors, and their messages have made a significant impact, leading to hundreds of their peers completing the FAFSA, applying for scholarships, pursuing dual enrollment, enrolling in college, and exploring primarily STEM careers. To view the student-produced content, please visit the B2L Instagram page: Instagram Link.
Students interested in applying use this link to access on B2L’s IG page: https://www.instagram.com/bridge2lifesfl/reels/