Tri-Cities lands $1.1M grant for student services

WSU Tri-Cities graduation 2010. Photo Courtesy of WSU Tri-Cities.
RICHLAND – WSU Tri-Cities received a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to create a Student Support Services Program for low-income and first-generation students.
WSU Tri-Cities will use this five-year grant to increase student success to graduation. About 140 eligible undergraduate students will be served annually.

“WSU Tri-Cities wants to support all students who are motivated to learn and who have a genuine desire to attend college,” said James R. “Dick” Pratt, vice chancellor for Academic Affairs.

About 40 percent of WSU Tri-Cities students are classified as low-income and as the first in their family to attend college. Many of these students are from groups under-represented in colleges and universities. Pratt added that having a Student Support Services Program is key to the WSU Tri-Cities vision of becoming the state’s only four-year public Hispanic Serving Institution.
“Some students doubt their ability to get in to college or to succeed academically in university,” Pratt said. “For example, our GEAR UP early outreach program found that 38 percent of the regional high school students eligible for our new Student Support Services Program do not believe they can obtain a four-year degree. They simply do not have mentors or role models within their families, so they often become discouraged and look upon themselves as failures. This grant will add to our ability to provide personalized support to students.”
The grant is financing three new staff members who will do one-on-one counseling, advising, and mentoring through the cultural change of going to college. The staff also will give workshops on topics including study skills, library resources, financial aid, career preparation, and personal financial planning. The grant also will improve access to tutoring; support new students during the admissions process; and cover field trips to cultural events and other university campuses.

The WSU Tri-Cities program is seeking current students who have a genuine desire to attend and graduate from a four-year university and who will clearly benefit from the services. Male and female students of any age are welcome, although recruitment efforts will be focused on young men, who are underrepresented in Student Support Services programs nationwide.
Program Director Carol Wilkerson started this week at WSU Tri-Cities. She previously served at Georgia Perimeter College in Atlanta as the associate vice president of Civic Engagement and Service Learning and as the academic dean of ESL and Foreign Languages. Her background includes a bachelor’s in Spanish, a master’s in Hispanic Studies, and a Ph.D. in Foreign Language Education.