By Michelle Nguyen | AANAPISI | Richland College | Dallas, TX
Receiving the AANAPISI grant has opened up many doors for students at Richland College through the various programs and opportunities offered. As the only school in the area and state to receive the AANAPISI grant, Richland College is filling the gaps needed to support the APIA population. A large part of our efforts is dedicated to a free summer course, the AANAPISI Summer Bridge Boot Camp, for Limited English Proficiency (LEP) learners.
The proposed course looks ideal from curriculum building to student engagement and commitment, however, once implemented we started to face difficulties that could only be known after some trials and errors. With a year of experience under our belt we learned a lot about the needs and circumstances of our students and also the nature of a summer program. Since attending the APAHE Pre-Conference I learned new perspectives and insights regarding AANAPISIs and program coordination that I plan to apply at my own campus.
The APAHE Conference is the first conference of its kind I have ever attended. It was an eye-opening experience for me as it solidified some struggles I’ve faced as a student and as a professional yet inspired me to help students recognize and face these same struggles. The Pre-Conference session focused on AANAPISIs helped me realized that my campus is not alone even though we are the only school in our area as a designated grant receiving institution. To hear that other schools are having similar difficulties and considering that summer programs are well intended but at times fall short put into perspective the task we have set out to do. It is encouraging to hear other schools share their ideas and implementations through the lifespan of their programs. Common struggles I noticed from other AANAPISIs were struggles we faced with our programs: including recruitment and student engagement, campus buy-in, and program visibility and marketing. We’ve been able to implement some of the suggestions and ideas from other campuses into our summer program.
The AANAPISI Summer Bridge Boot Camp focuses on classroom instructions in reading, writing, math, and a study skills component to help students prepare for college level classes at no cost to the student. Although the course is ideal for many of our students and has garnered interest with our ESOL population, we continue to encounter setbacks such as the ones mentioned earlier. The ending of last year’s summer program marked the beginning of a new strategic plan for this year’s class. We continue to outreach to local high schools but this time building a stronger working relationship with the counselors and faculty members. Reaching out to students at the beginning stage and planting a seed in their minds help students transition from high school to college more smoothly. Our struggle has been getting students through the admissions process and keeping them on track to start college right after high school. Attending high school recruiting events throughout the semester with the Outreach Department has created a familiar setting for AANAPISI on the high school campus. This semester we held an event for a large group of high school seniors to visit and tour our campus; we also tackled admissions procedures and financial aid application. Many of whom heard from us the previous semester during an introduction presentation about AANAPISI. We have been able to successfully help these students navigate college admission to Richland College with some who will be joining the summer program. To tackle the task of engaging students, we took some pointers from other schools for ways to engage students by utilizing previous students and creating a welcoming space. We will have two students from last year’s class speak about their experiences and provide helpful tips on navigating college and taking advantage of the AANAPISI programs. To create a welcoming space we will hold an orientation before the summer class to introduce instructors and help students acclimate; at the end of the program we will hold a celebration event.
Getting buy-in from other departments and administrators is a slower process but we are able to see steady results. We work closely with the Outreach Department, Office of Student Life, Multicultural Center, Marketing, Asian Student Association and other academic departments on campus. Working with other departments has helped us with visibility and marketing around campus. The Outreach Department will update their marketing materials to include AANAPISI information. We also recruit from: new student orientation organized by the Office of Student Life, the Multicultural Center and ASA meetings and events. New marketing materials are in production for the coming year such as rack cards, banners, table cloth, information bulletin board, and translated flyers for targeted audience. Going forth we want to implement some valuable ideas shared at the Pre-Conference.
During the Pre-Conference many campuses shared their concept of a student center and how it can give students a place to congregate and a designated area where students can feel comfortable. This idea resonated with our new grant director and we are looking into an available space on campus for students. Another topic discussed from the Pre-Conference was using student volunteers. We’ve been using student volunteers for various events on campus but want to start including student volunteers in our recruiting efforts with the Outreach Department. We will also continue to build a stronger relationship with high schools and the community to help bridge students to college more efficiently.
Attending the APAHE Conference and Pre-Conference was not only beneficial but it was a joy to meet and connect with professionals from institutions across the country. I learned a lot about the efforts of APAHE and the community they have built to support APIA in higher education. Listening to and interacting with members of other AANAPISIs during the Pre-Conference session broaden my perspective and left me with more questions than answers which is a great thing. I returned to my campus more inquisitive and with more ideas to implement for our current and future summer program.View More Blog