Tusculum College has received a $12,000 grant from the Appalachian College Association for the purpose of implementing a Latino student success program.
The ACA’s Access, Retention and Completion for Latino Student Success in Appalachia program was created in response to the changing demographic landscape of Appalachia. Colleges and Universities were provided the opportunity to submit proposals describing new programs or expansion of previous programs regarding Latino student access, retention and completion.
Tusculum College is implementing a new program to increase the enrollment rate of first-time freshmen Latino students by 30 percent at the institution. Additionally, the plan is to increase the retention rate of Latino students to 45 percent and to increase the graduation rates of Latino students by 25 percent.
The grant programs will be implemented by Deborah Gietema, instructor of mathematics, and Jeanne Stokes, director of TRIO programs at the College.
According to the grant proposal there are resources and activities available for the population, including academic support services through free tutoring, personal academic counseling through the Academic Resources Center, recognition through the Student Affairs Office with diversity activities and other multi-cultural activities.
Through the new program, Tusculum College will create a Latino Living Learning Community on campus. Students in the program will enroll in four of the same classes throughout the academic year as well as share housing on campus. As part of the freshmen orientation process, students participate in teambuilding activities that include sessions on conflict resolution, cultural diversity, social skill development and adaptability. These activities would include a Spanish-speaking mentor if needed.
“We are very excited about the implementation of this grant,” said Stokes. “Tusculum has had positive experiences with Living Learning communities and this grant will enable us to provide needed support to aid in the success of our Latino population.”
Added Gietema, “I have had the privilege of teaching several of our current Latino students, and I am always impressed by their dedication to their academic studies as well as their abilities in mathematics.”
Tusculum College has had a successful history implementing the Living Learning Community model and has maintained four groups for the past four years. Evidence of the improved retention of students in a LLC is most prevalent with the Hurley Society, with a freshmen-to-sophomore retention rate in 2010 of 65 percent.
The Hurley Society is for students from low-income and first generation families (another population that tends to have lower retention and graduation rates).
Housing will include living on a designated floor or wing of a building primarily for Latino students and other international students. This will offer students’ opportunities to develop relationships as well as providing an environment that focuses on cultural differences. Not only will there be a focus on Latino communities but other nationalities which can offer a rich awareness and appreciation of cultural heritages.