Positive thinking leads to positive action. Some say that’s the secret to success. Our goals keep us moving towards positive change. The Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (OVPTL) strives to foster educational success for UCI’s diverse student population, which is one of the office’s strategic goals. Diversity is the key to unlocking our true potential, but how to reach the student populations who need help the most?

To find out more about how the OVPTL is achieving this strategic goal, we talked to Kevin Huie, Director of  UCI’s Student Success Initiatives (SSI). His role is central to providing students with the necessary support, resources, and skills for their successful college transitions.

SSI strives to help UCI’s first-generation and low-income students, particularly sub-populations like foster youth, undocumented students, students with dependents, and those who have come from backgrounds with limited educational resources. “One population that is both underserved and potentially at risk is our undocumented students. While there is a concerted campus effort here at UCI and across California to help these students, there are some heavy barriers that still need to be lifted for this student population. In addition, foster youth are at risk and can often be underserved if not identified and given the necessary resources and guidance.”

What form does this outreach take?  According to Kevin, it starts with identifying the students as early as possible. SSI partners with the Admissions office to ensure that incoming students are aware of all the resources available on campus. For example, students are invited to participate in Summer Bridge, which is designed to help new students make the best possible academic and social transition to UCI. Students earn credit and get a head start working towards their degree while meeting other new students, staff, and faculty.

SSI’s second objective is to increase the effectiveness of faculty, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars in teaching diverse students. Kevin said that “partnering with the Division of Teaching Excellence and Innovation (DTEI) is essential because one of their roles is to help faculty facilitate the talent found in diverse classrooms and to mentor outside of the classroom. SSI can help our DTEI colleagues and our faculty understand what our students need.”

It’s crucial to protect and grow diversity on campus in every area because a diverse and rich learning environment where students learn from one another readies them for success in a global economy. Which brings us to the third and final objective: to establish measures that capture the breadth of student success at UCI. But success looks different to everyone, so what do we mean by success?

Student success can be measured in many ways, but one way to view it is hitting milestones. For students, every day represents a step towards success in their educational journey.

Other specific milestones of student success include:

  1. College preparedness or readiness for a smooth transition
  2. Academic achievement (grades, GPA, etc.)
  3. Successful matriculation from one quarter to the next, one year to the next
  4. Graduation in a timely manner as well as being career ready (or grad/profession school ready), which means that students have gained the knowledge, awareness, and skills to be successful beyond graduation.

Anteaters everywhere — listen up! We all have to come together and learn from one another to ensure student success. We all have something new to learn, and as Kevin said, it starts with listening to one another. Being open to new experiences and perspectives promotes positive thinking, positive action, and positive change. That’s one way to collectively foster educational success for UCI’s diverse student populations.

Here’s OVPTL signing off with our classic ZOT ZOT!

Learn more about the SSI and how they help students at http://ssi.uci.edu/