Summer courses offer a fast track to graduation.

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Summer in the City

May 21, 2014

Samantha Vouyiouklis (left) and Tanzina Nawrin enjoy observing the plant life that grows in the Brooklyn College Greenhouse.

For friends Tanzina Nawrin and Samantha Vouyiouklis, summertime was the best time—in fact, the only time—to take a course in botany. It was the second time Nawrin, a junior in the Scholars Program who double-majors in biology and psychology and minors in chemistry, had attended a summer semester at the college. In 2012, she had taken Studies in Forensic Science.

"As someone with a full schedule, I have to manage my course load very carefully if I wish to graduate on time," said Nawrin, who had won a scholarship to cover the cost of her study over the summer. "Taking classes in during summer helps me stay on track. Forensics was so cool, very reminiscent of the detective shows you see on television. We studied human bones and learned how to identify them by their sex and also to determine if they had suffered particular kinds of trauma. And we learned to do this even when what we had to work with were bone fragments."

She had such a great experience that she decided that she would take a summer course every chance she got. So last year, she took botany. Field Studies in Botany, a 4-credit course, is ideally suited for summer study as most of the coursework takes place outdoors. The faculty and students have full access to the Brooklyn College campus, one of the greenest spaces in Brooklyn, as well as the many tree-lined spaces of the surrounding neighborhoods of Midwood and Flatbush. The entire borough becomes a classroom.

Students who do well in the course have the opportunity to take the course again in the following year to act as team leaders, mentoring students taking the class for the first time. For this, they receive an additional 3 credits.

Vouyiouklis, a Scholars Program senior in biology, who had previously taken Music: Its Language, History and Culture over the summer, enjoyed the botany course so much last year that she decided to return this year as a team leader.

"I had 60 or 70 plants in front of me and had to identify them all for the professor. If not for student mentors who had helped me prepare, I doubt I would have performed so well," Vouyiouklis said. "I got an A+ in the course. If I can help other students get the same grade and get as much out of it as I did, I'm more than happy to lend my support."

Nicky Bangs, a junior majoring in classics, used the summer to study abroad in Italy last year.

"I studied archaeology at a site in Tuscany called Poggio Civitate, "said Bangs. "We studied the remains of an ancient Etruscan site, which has been dated to around the 7th or 6th century BCE."

This summer, Bangs will be studying languages at the Latin/Greek Institute, an opportunity that he says will, among other things, prepare him for graduate school. The institute is one of the oldest of its kind and considered the top institution in the nation for the study of Latin and Greek.

"My primary channels of access into the ancient world are through language and literature. The Latin/Greek Institute is an excellent center for studying the languages and I hope to improve my Latin," said Bangs.

Brooklyn College offers summer courses in two sessions each year. This year, the first session runs from June 2 to July 8 and the second from July 14 to August 19. These sessions are open to all college students, including those not pursuing a degree or those visiting from other institutions or countries.

"The summer sessions are crucial because they allow students to earn credits towards their degree to graduate sooner," said Gina Priolo, associate director of recruitment in the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

Matriculated Brooklyn College students are eligible to apply for direct loans during the summer, but must register for 6 credits. Pell Grant-eligible students may also use any leftover funds from their previous year's allotment toward summer tuition.

For Nawrin and Vouyiouklis, the real bonus came in the amount of fun they had while taking summer courses.

"It's summertime! And the professors of cognizant of that and go out of their way to make the classes as enjoyable as possible," Vouyiouklis said.

Both she and Nawrin find it difficult to walk past a plant or tree without knowing just about everything there is to know about them.

"My parents, much to their chagrin, now know about as much as I do about the plant world," Nawrin laughed.

They both plan to attend medical school after graduating.

To enroll in the summer sessions at Brooklyn College or to view a complete list of offered courses, please visit the Summer 2014 admissions page.


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