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VSA 2012: Wrapping Things Up

Posted by on Friday, August 3, 2012 in news, VSA Blog.

by Program Coordinator David J. Dunn, PhD

Is it over already?

It seems like only a few days ago we were making plans for the summer.

Wasn’t it just last week that we were setting up the VSA Office, dragging our equipment out of storage (or as we call it around here, “The Department of Mysteries”), and training our staff?

Then the first crop of VSA students arrived on campus for Session 1. This is our youngest group. They are only here for a week. This is the first time any of them are eligible to attend. It can be a bit disorienting at first, but by the end of the week they practically own the place.

The hard part about Session 1 is that as soon as we feel like we are finally getting to know our students, they leave. But that’s kind of okay, because we can expect to see a lot of them back again next year! Pretty much as soon as we send the first batch of students home, we clean things up and get ready to receive our rising Freshmen and Sophomores.

We get to spend a little more time with these guys. In addition to rigorous classes, they get to go on outings to places like the Country Music Hall of Fame (they loved the new Taylor Swift exhibit).

The “Glow Dance” was also a bit hit this year.

We take the week of July 4th off. Our staff work very long hours. The Proctors are pretty much on duty from sunup to sundown. They have off hours, but they are always willing to step in at a moment’s notice, whenever and wherever they are needed.

Proctor: Kevin Turner

Our students would not have such an amazing experience at VSA were it not for our amazing residential staff!

Proctor: Tessa Hoefle

We are especially grateful for our instructors.

Elizabeth Covington, PhD (Graphic Novel)

The unique thing about Vanderbilt Summer Academy is that our teachers are university scholars. Our students are taught by advanced PhD students and university faculty.

Edward Friedman, PhD

All Our instructors aren’t here because they have to be here. They want to be here, because they believe in your students, and they love being a part of their lives.

Erika Grundstrom, PhD

We’re also grateful for the efforts of our Teaching Assistants. These emerging scholars support the instruction in each of our VSA courses. They play a pivotal role in fostering the intellectual development of the students while also supporting the instruction in the classroom.

Session 3 is our longest session, with our oldest students. Everyone here is either a rising Junior or Senior. This is the session that they get to take some of our most popular courses, like

Medschool 101…

Biomedical Engineering…

The Abrahamic Religions…

and The American Legal System…

It is always hard to say goodbye to these students, because we know that we will not see some of them again. Well…maybe. A lot of our students end up attending Vanderbilt later. It’s always neat to run into former students around campus. (Disclaimer: Vanderbilt Admissions does not give preferential treatment to VSA students.) Some of our students have literally grown up through the program. This year we honored two students who attended four and five years each!

This was one of our best years ever! Here are some records we set:

  • We offered a total of 33 unique classes taught by top-notch instructors!
  • We also had more total students than we have ever had (499)!
  • Finally, through a generous grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, we were able to offer more financial aid to more students than ever before!

And we aren’t finished yet!

Our summer staff have returned to their normal lives. They are getting ready to teach and take classes and start new careers, but those of us who are here year-round have already started getting ready for next year. We have been doing some work on the “behind the scenes” stuff – the stuff most people don’t see that makes VSA so awesome – and we have begun thinking about new courses, instructors, and activities for next year.

We have also begun planning for our Fall and Spring WAVUs – our weekend program. If you are not sure if VSA is right for you, you might check it out.

If you are a VSA veteran, then get ready! VSA 2013, here we come! And it’s going to be better than ever!

– David J. Dunn, PhD (Program Coordinator)

P.s. If you want to see what we have been up to, check out some photos, and stay up to date on future events (like when we start taking applications), check us out on Facebook and Twitter!