A $50,000 Tennessee Board of Regents grant will provide mentoring opportunities for new MTSU students, while another $47,400 TBR grant will support new students with writing skills.
Together, the combined nearly $100,000 in grants from TBR and its Student Engagement, Retention and Success initiative, or SERS, support MTSU Office of Student Success efforts.
In all, MTSU received six TBR SERS grants totaling more than $162,000 to benefit underserved students, including in the areas of media/journalism ($7,000), education abroad ($30,500), MTeach ($3,000 for math-science education) and speech-language, pathology and audiology majors ($24,700).
MTSU Student Success is committed to helping students be academically successful and graduate in four years.
The Accelerated Mentoring Program, or AMP, targets underserved (first-generation students of color) incoming freshmen and transfer students from June 2021 through July 2022 and the Write On! Program grant assists students all year.
Together, they are the sixth and seventh grants totaling $260,000 secured by Student Success.
“We’ve helped hundreds of students,” said Vincent Windrow, associate vice provost for Student Success. “We have a long history in proposing and securing these grants, and in student engagement, retention and success.”
Brelinda Johnson, Office of Student Success Scholars Academy manager who secured the mentoring grant, said they are “excited about this opportunity. Students will benefit. We know from our other early arrival programs that peer mentoring works. ”
Windrow said the Write-On program “mirrors an existing math-science program that Dr. Marva Lucas hosted in University Studies a year ago. We’ll identify 30 Pell-eligible, first-generation students from underrepresented populations and pair them with student mentors. Each writing mentor will have five students. They’ll meet throughout the fall and spring semesters.”
Johnson said peer mentors will work with incoming freshmen and transfer students and introduce early on resources and things to be successful in their transition. A family component is available and faculty can provide feedback on how students are progressing. Microgrants ($200) can support students with financial needs.
Targeting other MTSU areas
TBR’s four additional grants include:
• “I, too, am Studying Abroad,” a campaign to increase the awareness of education abroad opportunities among underrepresented students from fall 2021 to spring 2022. Request was submitted by Guanping Zheng, associate vice provost, International Affairs.
• “Building an MTeach Alumni, Mentor and Student Community of Practice,” from fall ’21 to spring ’22. Request was submitted by instructor Robin Bollman and coordinator Heather Green in MTeach, a mathematics, science and agriculture teacher preparation program designed to increase the quantity and quality of mathematics and science teachers.
“The grant will support the development and implementation of a new MTeach community of practice to aid in the retention of under-represented student populations in the MTeach program,” said Bollman. “It will support MTeach students seeking initial licensure in math, science and agriculture education; MTeach alumni and veteran mentor teachers.”
• “Come to Voice,” an opportunity to lend mobile video production equipment to local public schools from August until June 26, 2022. Request was submitted by Ken Blake, professor, School of Journalism and Strategic Media, whose faculty will help K-12 teachers introduce students to video skills and boost digital media literacy. He credits associate professor Jennifer Woodard with originating the idea.
The plan will target children and teenagers enrolled in Murfreesboro City or Rutherford County schools, particularly schools attended by high proportions of minority and/or economically disadvantaged students. The program aims to help these students develop digital media literacy, acquire digital media production skills, begin using digital media to represent and advocate for themselves in socially constructive ways and become interested in studying media at MTSU after graduating from high school.
• “Strategies to retain underrepresented students in the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Major,” from September through April 2022, providing peer tutors for students needing support in challenging classes. Request was submitted by Karen Davis, associate professor, Health and Human Performance.
“We will recruit students identified via advising,” Davis said. “They will be engaged in monthly activities involving faculty and peer mentors. The program will provide peer tutors for students that need support in our most challenging classes.
“To show students the value of this discipline and the need for diversity, they will have the opportunity to volunteer within the community. We will provide them the opportunity to work with a Head Start Program, adult day care, and college/career day at a middle school or high school.”
— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)