Summer is an opportunity for UCF to extend its connection with the community and to inspire children to pursue a college education. Starting this month, many of the university’s colleges and schools will offer hands-on summer programs to get children excited about college and potential careers.

Hundreds of children will participate in the numerous summer camps, workshops and clinics offered. And they’ll do so while observing a very active college campus. Despite it being summer, about 36,000 UCF students will be on campus taking summer classes, giving visitors a good idea of what life is like for college students during the fall.

Some of the camps offered at UCF serve as ways to expose children to careers they may feel are outside their reach. For example, the Health Leaders’ Summer Camp, at the UCF College of Medicine in Lake Nona, strives to expose students in medically underserved communities in Osceola and Orange counties to different career opportunities in science and medicine.

“We want to help them dream big dreams and to reach for the stars,” said Wendy Sarubbi, assistant vice president of health affairs communications and marketing. “We need more physicians and scientists and we need more diverse physicians and scientists.”

The two-week program gives high school students some opportunity to explore science and medicine through different activities. For the first week, students spend time on UCF’s main campus learning about the variety of careers in healthcare and the second week is spent touring partner hospitals and medical facilities.

UCF Center for Initiatives in STEM, also known as iSTEM, offers several programs for students who are interested in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. The Summer Institute aims to immerse students in specific tracks such as biology, computer science and programming. As part of the biology track, students participate in an overnight field trip alongside an experienced marine turtle biologist to learn about nesting marine turtles. For students interested in engineering, but not quite sure which area, Camp Connect offers broad exposure to the discipline. By the end of both camps, students are exposed to skills from a variety of STEM fields that may spark their desire to continue their studies beyond middle and high school.

“These programs allow a student to advance their knowledge, which provides them with an actual skill and gaining further exposure to the specific academic arena and all it has to offer,” said Melissa Dagley, executive director of iSTEM. “For some students this may be the only time they are on a university campus or get a chance to be introduced to or study more in depth the different STEM concepts.”

Other camps serve as a way to expose students to the performing arts. Throughout the summer UCF Music engages students through its many clinics, camps and workshop. The Orlando Repertory Theatre partners with UCF to offer REP Summer Camps . Some UCF Music programs aim to introduce students to a musical instrument, and others are for advanced students with a focus such as the flute, saxophone, or opera, to name a few.

With REP, students can participate in performance camps depending on their grade level, and parents can enroll their children based on their preference. REP offers camps such as Forever Frozen and Scooby Doo, Where are you? for first- and second-graders, and more advanced camps such as musical theatre intensive for high school students. All REP camps conclude with a “shareformance” or showcase for family and friends on the final day.

UCF summer programs offer exposure to many different disciplines and aim to serve all parts of the community.