ASU student success programs recognized for innovation, impact

Undergraduate Academic Success Program and First-Year Success Center team members, with University College dean

Pictured at the Pathways to Postsecondary Education Awards event are University Academic Success Programs staff Rhonda Rumble, assistant director; Sarah Bennett, associate director; Ivette Chavez, director; Lisa Cahill, associate director; University College dean Duane Roen; and First-Year Success Center staff Marisel Herrera, director; Kristen Rund, success coach; Lindsay Romasanta, assistant director; Kevin Correa, assistant director; Hannah Leclair, coordinator senior.


Two ASU University College units recently received state-wide recognition for student success innovations. Honored by the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education were a program that gives first-year ASU students the VIP treatment, matching them with a personal peer-coach committed to their success; and an initiative in which ASU undergraduates train ASU Preparatory Academy junior and senior high students to become peer tutors, advance own college-readiness, and develop a habit of using academic support resources.

The First-Year Success Center, directed by Marisel Herrera, and University Academic Support Services, directed by Ivette Chavez, were among the five ASU programs that the commission chose to recognize collectively with an “Integrated Impact Award” — one of nine Pathways to Postsecondary Education Awards given out at a recognition breakfast on Nov. 13 at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, as part of the 12th ACPE Higher Education Conference.

The other three ASU programs receiving the Integrated Impact Award were Access ASU, the Caesar Chavez Leadership Institute, and the Joaquin Bustoz Math-Science Honors Program.

Explaining the judges’ decision to recognize the ASU programs with one combined award, ACPE executive director April Osborn wrote:  “… it was apparent that five ASU programs are supporting students across program lines in very significant ways….We were excited to see such an integrated model in action and hope through this award to encourage other integrated models.”

For more than 12 years, the Pathways to Postsecondary Education Awards have recognized and showcased innovative college access programs that are helping students prepare for, transition to, and succeed in higher education.

The 2015 awards were presented by Senator Kelli Ward, Representative Bob Thorpe, and the Education Policy Advisor to Governor Ducey, Dawn Wallace. This year’s ACPE conference was organized around the theme “Developing Arizona’s Human Capital: Innovation that Generates Postsecondary Education Success.” 

Integrated Impact Awards

About the First-Year Success Center

The leadership team in ASU’s First-Year Success Center, focused on easing the transition to college and the retention of ASU students, harnesses the power of peer mentoring to deliver a variety of coaching programs and services. Its signature VIP2 program trains a culturally diverse team of 75 highly qualified ASU juniors, seniors and graduate students to deliver free, personalized peer-coaching and other services to any full-time, first-year students at ASU’s Tempe, Downtown Phoenix, Polytechnic and West campuses who wish to take advantage of the program.

The center’s successes are impressive and quantifiable. Launched in 2012-2013, the center conducted 2,705 coaching appointments its first year. That number rose to 8,000 the following year and 14,900 last academic year. Freshmen who received coaching last academic year were significantly more likely to have registered this fall (an 11 percentage-point difference); for ethnic minority students, those who engaged in coaching were nearly 14 percentage points more likely to be enrolled at ASU for their sophomore year.

About the University Academic Success Program initiative “Promoting High School Students’ Future Success in College”  

For the last five years, ASU undergraduates and University Academic Success Program leadership have partnered with ASU Preparatory Academies at the Downtown Phoenix and Polytechnic campus to train Preparatory Academy students to become tutors and mentors to their peers. The impact is far-reaching and is building a sustainable “think college success” pipeline.

Preparatory students benefit from the opportunity to learn from and connect with ASU peers. They are immersed in learning about the skills and habits that translate into successful college experiences. They gain an early and first-hand appreciation for how taking advantage of tutoring and mentoring resources can positively impact their academic performance and engagement. In turn, they are reaching out to transfer core academic skills in math, science and writing and well as personal support to their own peers.

At ASU, University Academic Success Programs serves students across the university's five metropolitan Phoenix campuses with free tutoring in a wide range of subject areas.

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