State grant awarded to help minorities

Tamonda GriffithsNews Writer

A $70,000 Promoting Academically Successful Students grant, or PASS, has been awarded to the university from the state of Connecticut to help struggling students.

According to President Joe Bertolino, 50 students— who are being referred to as rising scholars—have been selected as recipients.

The grant, Bertolino said, is exclusively available to minority students, specifically those of African-American or Latino descent.

Students receiving the grant must be on academic probation, as well.

“From a nationwide standpoint,” said Jermaine Wright, the associate vice president for student affairs, “students of color are often times at the lower rungs of academic achievement. They enroll in lower rates than their white counterparts. They also excel or graduate at lower rates in comparison to other populations of students.”

The grant, Wright said, originated from the state’s office of higher education, specifically the Minority Advancement Program, and had certain standards that had to be met.

“If a student is at a 1.5 [GPA], it’s very difficult for that student to be above a 2.0 within one semester,” said Wright.

The exact cumulative GPA range outlined in the proposal for the grant was between a 1.72 and a 1.99, he said.

He said they had chosen that range of cumulative GPAs because they are “realistic parameters.”

“We need to be at 90 percent,” said Stanton. “That means 45 of the 50 students need to come off [academic probation].”

Coordinator of the Educational Opportunity Program Dawn Stanton said the university became aware of the grant sometime in early December 2018.

“I think we had about a two-week time-frame to have acknowledged it, get it written and submitted,” said Stanton.

Recruitment of the potential “rising scholars,” Stanton said, was done in late December and the first two to three weeks into the spring semester.

Stanton said the goal is for all 50 students be above a 2.0 at the end of the spring 2019 semester.

The university is also partnered with New Haven Promise and GEAR UP; however, Stanton said those programs are more “pipelines” from high schools to the university and a student does not need to be a part of those programs to be eligible.

According to Wright, 76 percent of students in the program are first-generation students.

“First-gen students are often categorized as not having that home support of someone who has already done this pursuit, done this journey called college,” said Wright.

Wright said while the state did not mandate a certain number of students be first-generation college students, they wanted to know what the number was.

Of the overall participants, 92 percent were lower-classman—60 percent freshmen and 32 percent sophomores, Wright said. In addition, 78 percent were African American and 18 percent Latino.

“As our population here at the university becomes more diverse,” said Bertolino, “and not just in terms of race, ethnicity, religious backgrounds, non-traditional students, et cetera but also socioeconomic diversity, the needs of students at a variety of different levels become greater.”

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio



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