TAMIU Title V Grant Ensures First Year Student Success

Imagine a University where you know someone cares about you and your academic success. Imagine knowing that no matter what the question is, you know the person who can find the answer and put you in touch with the right person.

Imagine knowing that throughout your academic career, there is a team of dedicated people cheering for you, ready to help. Such a program is not just imaginary, but is available at Texas A&M International University, thanks to a $2.25 million U.S. Department of Education Title V development grant. The grant, spread over a five-year period, is offered to Hispanic-serving institutions to improve academic programs, student services and facilities.

At TAMIU, the grant is being used to help students succeed, stay enrolled and achieve their higher education goals, through the First Year Success program, expanded student counseling services, and expanded tutoring services.

Raquel López, First Year Success Program coordinator, explained that the program is focusing on personal contact with students, especially those who are attending the University for the first time.

"We're feeling that intervention works. We're getting to know the students and we want to be the one-stop office where they can get their assistance. They should feel like they can come see us, anything they need. We want to encourage that campus connectedness," she said

She said that the First Year Success Program offers students a place to go for direction, whether a student needs clarification on their student status, information about dropping a class or if they need to find a job on campus.

"We try to have as much information as possible at our fingertips. We have a liaison with every campus department that works with students and we meet with those liaisons to keep abreast of the latest developments," said López.

Through the First Year Success Program, upper-division TAMIU students will advise first-time and transfer students on a diverse range of subjects, act as peer advisors and help students adjust and plan for the future. Faculty advisors will also be available this Fall.

Gustavo Salazar II, First Year Success counselor, explained that another component of the First Year Success Program is the General University course Theories and Applications of Learning. This class is dedicated to helping students improve their learning techniques and time management skills. In addition to the traditional classroom setting, students also meet with peer advisors who act as mentors, cheerleaders, motivators and supporters.

Dr. Terence Hannigan, director of the Office of Student Counseling Services, said Title V has also allowed his office to extend hours of operation until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and to provide more information about important subjects such as depression, test anxiety and study skills.

The new Writing Center at TAMIU and extended tutoring services are also possible due to Title V. The Center has 12 trained tutors on staff for assistance with research papers and other writing assignments, in English or Spanish, as well as test preparation for the Rising Junior Exam, TASP, TOEFL, GRE or other exams.

Sandra S. Gray, director of the Center for the Advancement of Scholastic Achievement (CASA) said tutoring for subjects other than writing is available at CASA, also located on the second floor of Killam Library.

For more information about the First Year Success program, please contact Raquel López at 326.2785, or visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 334. Office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Academic advisors are available extended evening hours and weekends in Killam Library, room 217.

Registration for the Fall Semester is Friday, Aug. 23. Classes begin Monday, Aug. 26. Late Fall registration continues through 5 p.m., Friday, Aug. 30.

For additional information, contact the Office of the University Registrar at 326.2250, or visit offices in Killam Library 168. Office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Friday and from 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu