Academic center grants sharpen students’ focus
April 8, 2013
By Darla Martin Tucker
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – (www.lasierra.edu) Whether renting an apartment, researching career options or studying chemistry, La Sierra University students will receive additional guidance this spring quarter through grant-funded workshops that got underway this school year.
A letter last fall from USA Funds in Indianapolis informed La Sierra University’s Center for Student Academic Success, or C-SAS, it had been awarded nearly $120,000 for a program intended to help students focus, develop life skills, graduate and enter careers.
Since the school year’s start in late September, C-SAS has provided students with mentoring services, job shadowing, workshops on student loans, credit and handling budgets, workshops on applying for scholarships, writing resumes, time management and more. Workshops this spring will cover job shadowing, study skills for biology, chemistry and physics, knowledge of renters’ and homeowners’ rights and other topics.
“This helps students who aren’t sure what they want to do find their niche, find a goal,” said Melanie Jobe, C-SAS director. “And many of them don’t know how money works, for example, what happens if you borrow $1,000 at 7 percent interest.”
La Sierra University’s grant award, effective until this September, is among 164 USA Funds grants totaling $6.5 million awarded to organizations in 27 states and the District of Columbia for the six months ended Sept. 30, 2012.
The C-SAS grant-supported program is titled “4U: Your Education, Your Money, Your Career, Your Success.” It builds upon an existing freshman retention program and subsequent sophomore grant-funded retention program, and is providing students with mentoring, academic support, career exploration activities, financial literacy classes and other life skills. While open to all students, students most at risk for dropping out of college are strongly encouraged to attend, namely first year students, minority students, first generation college-goers and those on academic probation.
“So many students drop out because they don’t have the finances or they haven’t made good financial decisions,” said Jill Rasmussen, coordinator of the 4U program. “They’re more likely to stay in school if they can see their goal, find the necessary funding and learn financial management.”
In addition to the programs provided through the USA Funds grant, C-SAS this year also landed a $5,000 grant from Southern California Edison to offer free career education workshops to students and to the community.
The workshops, called “Career Vision: Landing your Dream Job,” were led by experienced career education consultant Jamie Beck. Attendees assessed their career and vocational interests and skills and matched them with goals. They explored careers, identified potential employers, wrote resumes, developed interview skills and learned to use career resource libraries.
More than 80 students and community members attended the first workshop on Jan. 28 this year. Beck’s workshop sessions were also offered last year to the campus. A total of 142 La Sierra University students attended and many had positive comments about their experiences.
“The workshop on exploring careers helped me because I was able to find different career options for my major,” said Nancy Hernandez, freshman liberal studies major. “The workshop on analyzing job descriptions …helped me understand how to get a job or increase your chances of getting a job.”
“I got to actually think why I wanted to become a social worker,” commented another student on an anonymous written evaluation. “Was it because ‘they’ told me, or was it because I wanted to do it for myself?”