January 09, 2024 | Matt Kucinski

Eddie Graves (second from left) was part of the 2022 Entrada Scholars Program at Calvin University.

The Entrada Scholars Program was not at the top of Eddie Graves’ wish list for how he wanted to spend a month of the summer following his senior year of high school.

“I wasn’t super excited about it,” said Graves of the monthlong summer immersion experience.

But, the financial incentive attached to it—a $4,000 renewable scholarship for up to five years—was what finally convinced him to give it a shot.

When Graves completed the program, his tune had significantly changed.

“I’d very strongly recommend it to anyone who can take it,” said Graves.

Note: The Entrada Application is open for summer 2024.

An unexpected surprise

Graves, who was homeschooled throughout high school, came to Calvin in fall 2022 following Entrada. He’s now in his sophomore year. And while the financial award he receives each year as a result of his graduating from Entrada is significant, he says the most important takeaway from the month was the community that formed.

“A lot of people from Entrada are from out of state or even out of the country, so very few people, if any, knew each other coming in,” said Graves. “There’s something freeing about being in a group of people that you don’t know, and they don’t know you and you can start from scratch with new people. Yes, it’s a little daunting beforehand, especially for someone like me because I’m not super comfortable with building new relationships. But over time you really enjoy getting together with a lot of people you don’t know and having the time to get to know them well.”

Now at Calvin, he’s not only stayed connected with folks from Entrada, but his community has expanded.

Discovering layers of community

“It’s very nice to have a community of people and through them get to know other people,” said Graves.

He’s found community through a weekly Bible study that he’s done since the second semester of his freshmen year.

“Going to college and throughout your college years it’s very easy to lose track of where you are spiritually, and from what I’ve heard, a big influence on your walk with the Lord is who you spend a lot of time with and hang around,” said Graves. “So that’s a big reason why I wanted to come to a Christian institution.”

Graves has also found community within his major.

“Starting first semester in engineering you are asked to memorize the names of the students you are in class with,” said Graves. “So, I memorized the names of my entire incoming class. I didn’t appreciate it at the time. But, given the nature of engineering classes, you are taking classes together with these same students a lot and there’s a pretty strong community that forms there.”

Getting a head start

Beyond the kickstart Entrada provided Graves in finding and forming community were multiple tangible benefits that made his transition to college much smoother.

“It was a pretty invaluable start to my college experience,” said Graves. “It’s not only valuable to get to know what a college course is like, but an added value is the courses go and satisfy a requirement that’s needed in the core.” Furthermore, Graves said the course he took in Entrada also satisfied a requirement in his engineering program.

It's safe to say Graves started as a skeptic: “I didn’t have high expectations of Entrada.” And now, he’s an ambassador: “My younger sister is planning to do it next summer.”

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