The second year of the highly successful Freshman Academy for Diverse Students at Eastern Kentucky University promises even greater opportunities for its participants.
When the Academy was launched in 2014 to promote the retention of all students, with a particular focus on minority students, organizers hoped it would build a “culture of achievement.” The results from the inaugural year suggest it accomplished just that.
The fall-to-fall retention rate for the 51 first-year Academy participants was 82.4 percent, well above the average for other diverse students, and 77 percent are in good academic standing. Also, the average GPA of the group is 2.69, surpassing the average of other freshman diverse students.
Now sophomores, those students are remaining with the Academy to serve as mentors for the program’s incoming freshmen and gain additional leadership skills. The mentors and mentees will meet on a regular basis, weekly at first.
The Academy is designed to provide first-year students with the information, encouragement and direction they need in order to navigate college life and reach their academic, personal and professional goals at EKU. In addition to the mentoring by their older classmates and faculty and staff, the second class of Academy freshmen will benefit from their participation in a couple of two-day seminars – one focused on the comprehensive college experience and involving students from three states and another specifically on college skills – as well as various interactive workshops as well as other academic and social activities.
Dr. Salome Nnoromele, the newly named executive director for student affairs at EKU, will again serve as Academy coordinator.
“All the students were very positive about the experience,” she said. “The mentoring, from their peers and from faculty and staff, makes it work. The participants gain an increased sense of belonging and when we get to know the students better, we can better advocate for them.”
Students also have the opportunity to win book and tuition scholarships.
The Academy’s first class included African Americans, Hispanic and international students. The GPA and ACT composite scores of the minority participants were virtually comparable to their non-participating freshman ministry classmates, Nnoromele noted.
Participation in the program is by self-selection. Students must be registered by Sept. 24 in order to attend the first conference and take advantage of all Academy resources and scholarship opportunities.
The Academy’s campus partners include the President’s Office, Office of the Provost, Office of the Executive Vice President and University Counsel, academic colleges, EKU Library, Bookstore, University Programs, many academic departments and many offices in the Division of Student Success.