Pathways to Student Success

SWAU Receives $2.5M Grant and Launches New Office
December 21, 2020

KEENE, TEX. – Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) has been awarded a Title V grant by the U.S. Department of Education’s Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program. Over the next five years, SWAU will receive around half a million dollars each year for a total of just over $2.5 million, which will be used to improve student outcomes through “Pathways to Student Success.”

“We saw a need. We knew a large portion of our students were the first in their family to attend college and would benefit from a strong support system. We sat here and dreamed of all the things we could do if only we had the money, and now we have the opportunity to make those things happen,” shares Renata Ocampo, director of the Center for Academic Success and Advising (CASA), who was part of the team that drafted the grant application.

Thanks to “Pathways to Student Success,” the Office of Student Success has been created to serve as a space where students can seek guidance and learn skills that will prepare them for life after college. This office will collaborate with CASA as they oversee the grant’s four elements: first-year experience, internships, and both academic and career guidance.

The First-year Experience Program will guide students through their first two years of higher education. Led by CASA, this program will work in tandem with student success coaches and will be supported by the faculty who teach the general education courses needed by first-year students. This will allow for students to have a successful experience during their first two years, as they will have more resources available to them.

Currently, academic coaching/tutoring is available at CASA, and its collaboration with the Office of Student Success will give students more resources to address both their academic and career needs.

The Office of Student Success will facilitate a variety of workshops covering topics such as how to write a resume, how to dress for an interview and how to look for employment in the current global market.

Lastly, the Office of Student Success will help students who are seeking internship opportunities and guide them through that process. The student success manager will collaborate with academic departments to review current internships and develop relationships with other entities to provide more opportunities for students.

There are several goals SWAU hopes to meet by 2025, including an increase in four-year graduates, institutionalizing academic support services on campus and expanding career development.

“This really is such a blessing,” shares Donna Berkner. “When we heard we were recipients of this grant, we were so grateful! This is truly an answer to prayer, and it will open so many doors for our students.”

By Brisa Ramirez

Social Media Manager