Dominican College VP builds hope for first-gen college students — science weblog

Fostering scholar success takes institutional management and collaboration. Barrington Value, Dominican College’s vp of scholar success and engagement, is aware of this effectively—as a result of he was a struggling first-generation faculty scholar himself.

Value spoke with Inside Greater Ed about his philosophy for scholar success, present initiatives at his Illinois-based establishment and the lasting efforts of growth work.

Q: What attracted you to your position?

A: My position is to seek out methods to assist our college students develop, thrive and overcome the challenges that may impede their educational success. Half of our college students are the primary of their households to attend faculty. Many work full-time. Success is hardly a given. I ought to know—I failed out of school my freshman yr.

However I used to be fortunate. My grandmother, who solely had a seventh-grade training, by no means misplaced religion in me. She and my mates pushed me to attempt once more. This time, I used to be lucky to have an adviser, coaches and a myriad of mentors who didn’t enable me to retrench into my skewed perceptions of myself. They empowered my hope, and I grew to become the primary in my household to earn a bachelor’s diploma.

Right now, I embrace my position in serving to Dominican College pursue its mission to assist underresourced college students obtain the alternatives {that a} faculty diploma offers.

Q: What makes Dominican distinctive as an establishment and as a scholar physique?

A: At Dominican, we serve a whole bunch of first-generation faculty college students. Greater than 70 % of our undergraduate college students are Latinx. This educational yr, half of our first-year college students required bodily and psychological wellness assist throughout the first eight weeks of the semester. Practically half wanted monetary assist, and almost one in 5 expressed considerations about enough entry to meals or having a protected place to dwell. How will you discuss training while you’re hungry, scared and undecided the place you’re going to sleep from one night time to the subsequent?

Most college students at Dominican will not be solely overcoming these challenges, they’re breaking by ceilings. The six-year commencement charge of our Hispanic college students exceeds 60 %, whereas it’s round 50 % nationally. This previous fall, we welcomed the biggest first-year class in our historical past—at a time when faculty enrollment is dropping nationwide.

Q: What methods does Dominican make use of to create scholar success?

A: Our work begins in the summertime earlier than our first-year college students arrive on campus. We ship a quick survey to be taught extra about social determinants of their well-being, akin to housing insecurity, transportation and monetary misery. We ask college students to reply in one among 3 ways: “I received this,” “I’m figuring it out” or “I need assistance.” In the event that they ask for assist, they get it. If they are saying they’re figuring it out, they get assist anyway.

Dominican’s Care Community creates detailed care plans for every scholar by our partnership with NowPow, which helps join college students to native companions and assets of their house communities. For instance, NowPow helps commuting college students faucet into community-based assets inside strolling distance of their properties, akin to meals pantries and psychological well being providers. This previous semester, 95 % of Dominican’s first-year college students obtained some sort of assist for fundamental wants.

For households of first-generation college students, the price of faculty can appear insurmountable. To assist shut this hole, Dominican provides monetary literacy assist by our Household Academy: we offer a collection of periods in each English and Spanish to attach households with Dominican’s monetary assist packages and introduce them to different households with comparable points. Households that attend 5 periods additionally obtain credit score for his or her scholar to enroll in a summer time course for gratis.

To assist ease expertise prices, Dominican companions with CDW Company to supply our Stars Align Tech Entry Program. For college kids who take part in this system, Dominican covers the price of a brand new laptop computer up entrance, permitting college students to bundle the fee into their tuition assist.

In 2019, Dominican redesigned our alert system to assist new college students keep on monitor academically. All through the semester, our devoted alert workforce notifies us when a scholar has failed a take a look at, has not attended a category or has missed different alternatives. Advisers then comply with up with every scholar individually to supply assist and supply steering.

A method we foster a way of belonging for college students from numerous cultural backgrounds is thru Dominican’s Heart for Cultural Liberation. Our Pillars Students program helps first-year African American college students, together with by offering scholarships and alternatives to interact in community-based, social justice alternatives. From 2021–22, the Pillars Students program helped improve Dominican’s retention of African American college students by 30 %.

Q: Hope was necessary for you in your greater training journey. How does that construct into your private philosophy round scholar success?

A: I don’t imagine that occurs if we don’t acknowledge the significance of nurturing hope. For underprivileged college students, hope has sustained them by many challenges. Nonetheless, faculty is commonly a distant idea. It’s not nearly affordability, however achievability. College students can understand themselves as much less able to studying than their friends. There’s a cognitive disconnect that can’t be ignored.

Additional, we should attempt to reframe our perceptions of who may be profitable. Whereas there isn’t a easy reply for the best way to higher recruit and retain underresourced college students, it begins with recognizing that every particular person can thrive in a school surroundings, but it surely requires us to supply a degree of dedication that extends effectively past classwork. It takes the initiative to ask what we will do at this time—not tomorrow or three years from now. Even when a few of our packages fail to realize the outcomes we anticipated, we maintain our concentrate on progress. If we’re studying from what hasn’t labored and transferring ahead, we’re succeeding.

Q: What long-term results are you seeing from these efforts?

A: Inside a yr of graduating, 78 % of Dominican’s college students go on to jobs at main firms, start-ups, medical facilities, nonprofits, colleges and past. Round 20 % enter graduate faculty.

For me, the best reward comes on commencement day, when first-generation faculty college students stroll throughout the stage to obtain their diplomas. All of the academia fades away in that second to at least one prevailing thought: this second is the start. They’ll carry torches of hope into their communities for the remainder of their lives.

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