On Thursday, May 7th, the Cypress Bay B.R.I.D.G.E.S. class had a special guest speaker attend one of their Zoom meetings. Kate Gilson Miranda, a former Bay B.R.I.D.G.E.S. student, joined the Zoom meeting to share her experience transitioning from high school to college.

The meeting started with a class discussion as they all answered the question, “What do you see yourself doing when you leave high school?” The students all responded with a variety of answers. Some of the students wanted to go off to college, others wanted to attend a certification program at a local hospital, and a few wanted to get out into the workforce. Stephanie, a senior shared her short- and long-term goals with the others. First, she would like to complete a local hospital program, then get a job at a veterinarian’s office.

After the discussion, Kate introduced herself telling the class that she is currently a student at the University of North Florida (UNF) majoring in Early Childhood while minoring in Disabilities. After this introduction, Kate was interviewed by HDS Foundation Program Manager, Liz Falk. Liz began to ask Kate questions about her experience transitioning from Cypress Bay to UNF. Kate gave tips that helped make her transition easier, while also sharing the challenges she faced especially during her initial transition to college. She emphasized how important and helpful the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. program was in her journey. It prepared her to become more independent when it was time to go to UNF. Another tip that made things easier was taking the time to research what different colleges and universities had to offer, so she could choose one that fit her needs the best. Even though Kate spent time preparing to make the transition easier, she did face a few challenges. The biggest challenge was coming from a high school where she was involved in MANY activities, and then transitioning to a big university where she did not know anyone.

After talking about her transition experience, Liz asked Kate to share what it’s like at UNF. Kate started the conversation off with how she spends her weekends. Kate uses her weekends to wind down from her hectic schedule during the week. She states that sometimes she attends social events like movie nights, sporting events, and the beach. Her favorite social activity is volunteering with the THRIVE program and participating in activities with her Kappa Alpha sorority.  

Kate was asked about her means of transportation on and off campus to attend classes, social events, and other activities during the year.  Kate answered by telling the class that she rides her bike or walks to class. When she needs to leave campus and go shopping, she will call an Uber.

When asked about how she takes care of her laundry and cooking, Kate states that she learned by watching her mom do laundry while growing up. She would watch her mother separate the colors from the whites. As for cooking, Kate enjoys looking for new recipes on Pinterest and trying out new healthy meals.

After talking about living independently, Kate gave tips on class and assignments. She emphasized how critical it is to be organized with assignments and making sure they get turned in on time. Something that helps her is using the calendar app on her phone to send reminders and make sure she does not forget any assignments. The students all had great questions to ask Kate about her successful transition. It was a very informative meeting for the BRIDGES students.

Kate’s road to independent living has empowered her to learn to make her own decisions and feel confident in her choices. Her advice to the B.R.I.D.G.E.S. students about transitioning from high school to post- secondary was, “Take your time and enjoy high school. When you get to college, the other students are accepting of you and you don’t need to be afraid to try new things.”