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Sponsored Programs Role for First-Generation, Low-Income Students

Dr. Carmen Taylor, Vice President for Student Services

Vice President, Carmen Taylor - February 2015

Talking about the importance of research and sponsored programs is a bit personal for me, especially state- and federally-funded programs designed for first-generation and low-income students. Why? Because it was these types of programs that helped me find academic success early on in my higher education journey.

When I entered college as a freshman at Northern Illinois University, I was directed to the CHANCE program, a state-funded initiative. Its mission is to identify, admit and assist otherwise capable students whose pre-college education has not fully enabled them to take maximum advantage of their potential and the opportunities of higher education.

I was a high achieving student, but I was a product of the Chicago public school system that didn’t offer any type of AP or advancement courses. I also received poor advisement in terms of what I needed to do to be college ready. The CHANCE program, along with the university’s Student Support Services office, put me on a path to success in higher education.

When I got to Northern Illinois, I wanted to work for Chicago Board of Trade. So, I needed to major in business, but when I tried to enroll in the College of Business, they told me that I would not succeed because my math scores were too low, and they said it would take me six years to graduate. But, I took the extra preparation classes, and I caught up in summer school. I got accepted to the College of Business after taking the 10 core courses in two years, and I graduated in four years with a degree in finance.

I was the only African American student who graduated from the College of Business at that time, and it was the support of the CHANCE and TRiO programs that helped me find that success…almost like a surrogate parent directing me along the college path.

The Division of Student Affairs at CSULB offers students a wide variety of assistance through a number of sponsored programs on campus, including its own Student Support Services unit, Education Opportunity Center, Educational Talent Search and Upward Bound—all part of the federally-funded TRiO programs. There is also the state-funded Educational Opportunity Program, which provides access and academic support to low-income, first-generation students, including special populations such as former foster youths and AB540 students.

We have a large student population that needs these types of services, and that is partially what drew me to CSULB. I am serving a student population that is very much like me, and I understand what the struggles are for them and what their challenges are. I also understand what they bring to the environment, being high-achieving, first-generation students. These students are invested in their learning, and they want to be someone, but they need help in shaping their direction and preparation. That is what these programs do, and our students are fortunate to have them.

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