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Every student dreams of graduation. They anticipate wearing a cap and gown, imagine the pomp and circumstance and envision the pride in their family’s eyes. But the road to completing their education is never easy, especially for students who embark on the rigors associated with achieving a nursing degree. Additionally, the everyday challenges that some students experience from juggling a job and family with studying can make achieving their ambitions can seem daunting.
The Student Success Center in the School of Nursing at the UT health Science Center San Antonio developed from the foundation for student support of the Juntos Podemos mentorship program and the pioneering efforts of faculty member Norma Martinez Rogers, Ph.D., RN, FAAN.
Now in its second year of operation, the center is continuing the School of Nursing’s rich history and tradition of producing remarkable leaders for the future of nursing.
Designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, the School of Nursing received a five-year $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The funding has allowed Student Success Center leaders to expand their undergraduate student development and research programs, bolster faculty enrichment modules, enhance student enrichment services and grow their staff.
Their progress is quickly creating a pattern of success that is evident in the lives of the student they’re impacting. The following stories are just a few examples of how the Student Success Center is transforming students’ goals and ambitions into positive actions that are propelling them forward.
Student Success Center gains momentum
Federal and private funding made possible …
SUPPLEMENTAL INSTRUCTION (SI)
624 students participated in SI instruction sessions
99% of participating students achieved a successful pass rate in the curriculum’s most rigorous courses
87 contact hours of tutoring in the curriculum’s most rigorous courses
ACADEMIC SUCCESS COACHING
77 academic consultations provided to students
30 peer mentors selected and trained in the 2015–2016 academic year
ACADEMIC ENHANCEMENT WORKSHOPS
Workshops covering topics including time management and study skills strategies, stress management, financial aid and scholarship application approaches, and resume building
Growing from experience, sharing her wisdom
Inspiration and motivation sparked Stephanie Guo’s interest in becoming a tutor. Guo, a second-year accelerated B.S.N. student, applied to become a tutor after she benefited from attending a few of the Student Success Center’s supplemental instructor-led pathophysiology course sessions.
Since establishing the tutoring component in the fall of 2014, Student Success Center staff continually seeks to improve and refine methods. One of the most advantageous ways they gain insight to implement improvements is through the student tutors they’ve appointed.
“With the tutors’ help and feedback, the Student Success Center staff experiments and applies new ideas to improve and expand the tutoring program,” Guo said. “The staff involves us and considers our input to develop solutions to problems that might come up.”
Guo said she considers the Student Success Center a vital part of nursing school life.
“Our professors want us to succeed and the Student Success Center is the solution,” she said.
Guo believes her participation as a tutor prompted her to perfect her own studying abilities. She participates in monthly training sessions to learn about new resources she can recommend to her tutees.
Guo, who will graduate in August 2016 from the School of Nursing, is setting her sights on working in a hospital. She hopes to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner and specialize in family medicine.
- Provides one-on-one, comprehensive tutoring sessions based on a student’s individual needs
- Focuses on helping students improve subject matter knowledge and understanding
- Assists students in enhancing their test-taking strategies and study skills
- Can spend up to 10 hours per week tutoring students in a wide range of subject matter
Encouraging involvement, leading by example
Encouraging fellow students to pursue leadership roles is something nursing student Will Long enjoys. He doesn’t just talk the talk. He leads by example. Long has served as the 2016 School of Nursing class president since his first semester in the fall of 2014. By January 2015, he was also elected to serve as the School of Nursing Student Council president. In addition he was the School of Nursing presidential ambassador for the 2015–16 school year. As a Student Advisory Council representative during the 2015–16 school year, he made recommendations regarding student issues to The University of Texas System Board of Regents and chancellor.
“Research shows the more involved students are, the better they’ll do in their classroom and program,” Long said. “I hope I’m changing the culture by encouraging students to become more involved.”
Long said his goal as class president is to create a team environment.
“I think it’s great to see how much our classmates really help and support one another,” he said.
Among his many duties as class president is to lead fundraising activities, including for his class graduation party. Because of the camaraderie he sees in his peers, he said he’s confident they’ll reach their goal.
Long meets with his fellow officers on a monthly basis and believes he is privileged to promote the Student Success Center and encourage incoming students to take advantage of the resources the center has to offer.
“The center staff supports me as a leader by operating an open-door policy,” he said.
“They always listen and consider my ideas. It’s a student-minded atmosphere that offers the very best for all students.”
After he graduates in May 2016, Long’s ambition is to work at University Hospital in the Surgical/Trauma Intensive Care Unit. He also hopes to embark on graduate school in the future to obtain his M.S.N. and specialize as an acute care nurse practitioner.
MOLDING MODELS OF EXCELLENCE
In addition to offering nursing students a full spectrum of academic assistance programs and preparation for licensure exams, the Student Success Center also supports students’ participation in campus activities, events and student organizations that contribute to building students’ leadership skills.
Activities supported include …
- Acting as student officer, leader and voice for the student body such as a liaison between students and School of Nursing administrators.
- Fundraising to support various class events
- Representing peers at university-wide events
- Serving as the class representative who delivers the commencement speech during graduation ceremonies
- Conducting monthly leadership meetings
- Hosting community wellness events
- Volunteering to help patients at the
Student organizations supported include …
- Hispanic Student Nurses Association
- International Nurses Student Association
- Men in Nursing
- National Student Nurses Association
- Muslim Student Association
- PRIDE (interprofessional organization
that provides resources to medically underserved gender and sexual minorities, including LGBTQ individuals)
- Christian Medical and Dental Association
Paying it forward reaps rewards
Demonstrating kindness. Doing good for others. Sharing knowledge and experience. These are some of the things Xavier Grizzelle said he enjoys most about being a peer mentor. But what he is receiving in return he said are invaluable life lessons.
“Nursing school can be stressful so it shows me how resilient I am when I can handle being a student myself and helping others at the same time,” he said. “It brings out the leader in me.”
Grizzelle credits the Student Success Center as one of the best initiatives he’s experienced.
“I’ve attended three different universities and in my six years as a college student, this program ranks at the forefront,” he said, adding that the center’s staff is supportive. “It is a great program that allows you to give back and also get so much out of it,” he said.
Grizzelle’s involvement as a mentor and his clinical rotation experiences helped him realize his passion. After he graduates, Grizzelle said he hopes to focus his career path on working with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) babies in a hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
PEER MENTOR PROGRAM
Initiated in January 2015 and designed to assist incoming students in transitioning seamlessly to their new School of Nursing environment
Peer mentors …
- Complete an application and interview process. Once selected, mentors take part in training
- Are matched with six to 10 students who share the same clinical rotation site
- Have one semester of experience ahead of their mentees
- Contact their mentees on a bi-weekly basis to develop peer-to-peer trust and rapport
- Participate in orientation with
- Answer questions, provide resources, and are trained to recognize early indicators that a student may need additional help
- Guide students to success throughout their first semester
Innovative leader, graduate go-getter
Invested and devoted are qualities Lauren Battershell demonstrates. While pursuing her B.S.N. in the fall 2014 she was selected as one of the Student Success Center’s nine inaugural SI leaders. Upon graduation in 2015 Battershell said the benefits she gained from her involvement in the program continue to serve her well as she embarks on her residency program at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth where she is serving as a staff nurse in the Cardiac Telemetry Unit.
“I saw how important it is for students to review material in as many different ways as possible so they can grasp the concepts,” Battershell said. She reinforced subject matter to a group of about 75 students per SI session. Each session often lasted an hour to an hour and a half.
“SI leaders are invested,” she said. “They get to know the students in their groups and want them to succeed.”
Battershell said the benefits far outweighed the amount of time she committed because the experience allowed her to develop her teaching skills and motivated her to consider pursuing a Ph.D.
“I gained a whole new level of confidence and have a passion for teaching that I didn’t know was there,” she said. “I can’t imagine the School of Nursing without the Student Success Center. It’s an integral part of the student body.”
SUPPLEMENTAL INSTRUCTION (SI) LEADERS
- Serve as models and mentors to groups of undergraduate students
- Facilitates student study-group sessions for rigorous subject matter areas
- Can spend up to 10 to 15 hours per week preparing for an SI session
- Meet with faculty on a weekly basis to review challenging content presented
in class to determine where support may be needed
- Develop weekly lesson plans that include diverse learning methods such
as collaborative activities, games, student-led instruction and online assignments
Article by Melissa Mireles with Natalie A. Gutierrez