A personal connection for first-generation students

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By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger

DAVENPORT — First-generation and first-year, underrepresented minority students of St. Ambrose University got a head start to be successful with a new program called Building Your Hive. The three-day program helped students learn about resources, study skills and time management, said Kim Matteson, director of retention. Each student also will have a peer mentor throughout the academic year.

“The program aligns with the university’s strategic plan to better serve the growing number of low-income students, first-generation students and students of color. Our past retention data suggests that these students often fail to persist to graduation. Exit surveys confirm that students from these backgrounds often do not have a network of support that they trust to seek input into their education efforts. The Building Your Hive program is designed to address this gap in service,” Matteson said. The hope is that “this will make it easier for them to ask for and accept help if and when they do need it,” she said.

Seven students participated in the program Aug. 3-5 on campus and at sites throughout the community. Faculty and staff of St. Ambrose met with the new students to cover technology, study skills and making the most of their college experience. They also learned about the history of the university’s commitment to social justice. Off campus, activities included a visit to the MLK Interpretive Center and a night at Modern Woodman Park, along with lunch at different ethnic restaurants.

Matteson said peer mentors are upperclassmen who will check in with their assigned students throughout the year and attend university events together. “Increasing students’ sense of belonging on a college campus is a key part in helping them persist to graduation,” Matteson said. “Building Your Hive establishes that real, personal connection before the semester begins.”

Classes begin Aug. 22.


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