James Beattie, former Center of Student Engagement Associate Director, has taken over as program coordinator for First In The Pack for the 2019-2020 academic year.
First In The Pack is a program dedicated to advancing first-generation students at the University of Nevada, Reno. Prior to Beattie, Desirae Acosta served as the program coordinator for two years.
Since entering the position Beattie has created a web campus course for the members in FITP. Beattie said it is a way to better schedule appointment with mentors, keep track of participants check ins and better refine mentorship.
“It has made it a lot easier to get in touch with students,” Beattie said. “It is set up just like a classroom. Our freshman students meet seven times a semester… so now all of their content they are going to cover for each meeting is there. Webcampus has allowed us to layout a seven meeting curriculum each semester that every student gets. So it allows us to really make sure that everyone is getting served the same across the board, and at anytime we can go and check that.”
Beattie added he hopes to track success with test and partner with the Office of Student Persistence Research to get data to better serve students in the future.
FITP participants keep track of points they may have earned throughout the week through using campus resources or community service. Beattie said he hopes to refine the process with a new mentoring protocol.
“We have a point system for students if they utilize different resources on campus or they get involved through community service,” Beattie said. “I would like to refine that process a little bit. I think it was basically done on self reporting last year, so I think our students did a lot of things they didn’t report themselves. Part of the new mentoring structure will be when they meet students will go over what they’ve done in the last week that might count for points, and the mentors will be putting that in for them. I know oftentimes what will happen a student will go out to community service and they won’t think to login to web campus and mark down that they did community service. So we will be tracking them a lot better this year.”
The program has grown to approximately 300 students for the 2019-2020 academic year and there are 14 students on the waiting list since freshman orientations in July. For the 2018-2019 academic year FITP served 178 students.
Beattie said now it is now a matter of serving all students effectively.
“One of the things we did new this summer… [FITP] created a first-generation lunch,” Beattie said. “Applications spiked at that time. With the staff I have; how are we going to serve all of these students? How are we going to serve them well? Right now I am looking at hiring another student peer mentor.”
Beattie added if the program grown larger he hopes to start doing group meetings every other week.
FITP hopes to create an outreach plan and focus on retention amongst participants.
Andrew Mendez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.