Summer Scholars at Chautauqua

Twelve students from different states and backgrounds come to Chautauqua Institution for a week-long educational, cultural, and social capital enrichment experience (all expenses paid). Our Summer Scholars live together in a large house in the center of Chautauqua Institution. Each day they choose lectures from the Morning Lecture Series and Afternoon Lecture Series to attend. They fill the rest of their day going to their choice of art exhibits, performances (e.g., symphony, opera, dance), readings (poetry & prose), classes (e.g., meditation, financial literacy, comparative religion, filmmaking), post-lecture dialogues, and more

Each morning on the front porch, the Scholars have Coffee and Conversation with people interested in helping them expand their social capital - i.e., access to new information, connections and opportunities which can help them on their path. They also have opportunities to engage with lecturers, teachers, authors, and artists. Our Scholars, in turn, enrich the Chautauqua community with the fresh, diverse, and hopeful perspectives of a younger generation.

This week-long immersion in Chautauqua is a high-impact educational experience which can be transformational. It also serves as a relationship accelerator for the Scholars.

Why Chautauqua

For nine weeks each summer, Chautauqua Institution assembles a large concentration of social, intellectual, and cultural capital. According to David McCullough, renowned historian and author, "There's no place like it. No resort. No spa. It is at once a summer encampment and a small town, a college campus, an arts colony, a music festival, a religious retreat, and the village square. There's no place─no place─with anything like its history."

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In Their Own Words...

"Chautauqua made me more confident in myself. I’ve always had self-doubts about my capabilities and how far I’m able to go. Meeting the people that I met was life-changing for me. I personally feel like a whole new woman. I’m more assured in myself with a whole new vision of where I’m going." ~ Julie

“I would describe Chautauqua as a center of learning and growth. It’s where perspectives, ideas, nature, and art collide and where individuals can find connection and be exposed to wholly new experiences. The connections you make and the opportunities you find at Chautauqua are unlike anything else you’ll find." ~ Mars

"Chautauqua is a place for the soul. This place is magic... like magical realism. It is a utopic place where your soul is the most important part. From the music, the deep discussions, to the natural environment, everything just uplifts your soul. Be you and know that this is your place as well." ~ Juan

"Chautauqua is an incredible environment for growth. Chautauqua challenges the mind on all fronts and encourages you to embrace different ideas, ideals, and even diversity." ~ Chad

"Chautauqua is a community for the people. Everybody is your neighbor there 🙂 Summer Scholars really catered to my professional goals and helped me advance in significant ways that I’m carrying with me even after the program ended!" ~ Mickie

"My favorite part of Chautauqua was the excitement of learning something new every day. The amount of lectures and events going on allowed me to be exposed to new people from all backgrounds and experiences. I was left wanting to talk to so many new people. Every person I talked to at Chautauqua showed me that there are infinite ways to view the same thing." ~ Fabian

How Our Program Supports Our Mission

Our program occurs at Chautauqua, a small 19th-century Victorian village designed with community engagement in mind. Its brick walks, large front porches, and numerous public spaces foster connection. In this unique cultural landscape, our Summer Scholars can more easily link with potential guides who can offer helpful advice, information, and connections to support the Scholars on their educational and occupational journeys.

In pre-orientation and orientation, Summer Scholars increase their social capital literacy. They receive training in interpersonal and communication skills which enables them to more easily and effectively initiate and strengthen connections. Meeting new people, including nationally-known speakers and presenters, helps build their self-confidence.

Conversations with new connections at Chautauqua can have a very beneficial effect on a Scholar’s path. Research shows that even weak social links can have a profound impact on one’s success. (The Strength of Weak Ties). As author and entrepreneur Richard Koch explains: 

To get more information and different insight you need to move to more distant parts of your social world, and possibly outside it altogether. You need to talk to people who live on “different planets” – people with different occupations, different social backgrounds, different attitudes, different ways of thinking, and different geographical locations. They know things that you don’t. 

Scholars often feel like they’ve landed on another planet when arriving in Chautauqua. Yet they leave appreciating this special place and have skills and connections which can increase their success in realizing their educational and life goals.

Each Scholar chooses whether to cultivate continuing relationships with their new acquaintances beyond the summer program. Ongoing connections can result in even more benefits for our program’s participants.

Much life learning also comes from befriending the other Scholars from different backgrounds who have faced similar life challenges. Additionally, participating in a spectrum of educational and cultural activities (see with these new friends enriches the Scholars’ life experience.

During and beyond their week at Chautauqua, Scholars who are planning to transfer to a four-year college or university can take part in our Transfer Success program. This involves meeting with Chautauquans who have worked as senior administrators at four-year institutions and have numerous connections with senior administrators at four-year colleges and universities across the country. These Transfer Advisors focus on helping Scholars to find transfer schools with high graduation rates, excellent financial aid, and a connective culture which will help them to continue to increase their social capital and achieve their goals. They connect Scholars with senior administrators at these schools and coach them all the way through the transfer application process to help ensure their transfer success.

After their week at Chautauqua, all Summer Scholars can join the Summer Scholar Alumni Network which meets monthly over zoom to support one another with ideas, opportunities, and strategies in achieving their personal and professional goals.  

Ask Summer Scholar Alumni about their experience with the program:

Mickie Amezquita
Austin Community College

Chad Mendez
International Business and Finance
University of Tampa

Heidy Mendoza
Sociology & Architecture
Hillsborough Community College

Elisabeth Rogers-Paulus
PRAAC (Public Relations, Advertising, and Communications) and Criminal Justice
Florida International University

Program Dates

Our 2024 Sessions will take place

July 14-20 and July 21-27.