'Boro Navigators mentoring program to help at-risk students transition to college

Category:  News
Wednesday, March 27th, 2019 at 7:38 PM

When a student arrives at Edinboro University, they hold three uncontrollable attributes, according to the Vincent Tinto model of retention. Those attributes are: prior qualifications, individual characteristics and family attributes. In the student’s time at Edinboro, four major indicators — learning support, counseling, social integration and academic integration — will sway that student in one of two directions: 1. Continue to graduation; 2. Dropout. In an effort to make sure that Edinboro is able to harness those controllable indicators, LaTessa Black and the Academic Success Center have launched a new initiative called ‘Boro Navigators.

‘Boro Navigators is a peer mentoring program designed to help at-risk freshman students acclimate to college life. The program identifies at-risk freshman students as first generation, Pell-grant eligible, students of color, out of state and region, or commuter.

 “We are specifically targeting those populations of students because when we were looking at the retention rates of the university, we saw that with some of the changes we’ve made, the retention has gone up. [However] as the retention is going up for the general population of students, when it comes to those demographics of the students that are in this program, the retention isn’t as high,” Black said. Black is an academic success coordinator for students in the art, art education, theatre, music and music education programs and head of this project.

According to university records, the second-year retention rate for students of color at Edinboro has been in decline since Fall 2013, where 66.9 percent of students were retained. In Fall 2014, 62.3 percent were retained; in Fall 2015, 56.9 percent were retained; and in Fall 2016, there was a slight increase as 61 percent were retained.

“When you look at any university, even when you look at Edinboro University, there are certain resources available for students. Here we have (in the learning commons) global education, which works with international students and domestic students that might want to go and study aboard; we have Office of Accessibility Services (OAS), where students who have a documented disability have those resources available. I could go on and on about athletics and different resources we have, but when you look at this demographic of students that this program caters to, there really isn’t anything that is set up in place for these students,” Black said.  

Edinboro University has previously participated in Act 101, a similar program funded through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Equal Opportunity Act 101, which was passed in 1971. The program was designed to deliver supports to “the most disadvantaged students,” meaning students who were deemed economically and educationally disadvantaged.

The university no longer participates in this program, according to Philomena Gill, assistant vice president of academic and student success.

The application to apply to be a ‘Boro Navigator is currently available on the “student employment” tab on MyEdinboro.

Black hopes to hire four to five mentors, who will receive compensation for their work. Applicants should have at least a 2.5 GPA, be involved with an on-campus club or organization, and in all be a “role model figure that students can look up to.”  Black hopes to have all applications in by April 12. Once employees are hired and the interviewing process is over, new hires will undergo mandatory training in preparation of the fall 2019 launch date of this project. Contact LaTessa Black with any questions or comments.  

Shayma Musa | edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

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