CSUF News Service
Providing Support for Academic Success
Federally Funded Program Offers Wide Range of Assistance
Jan. 29, 2014
It was a tough time in her life when Adriana Magallanes came to Cal State Fullerton in 1995. She was, in essence, alone, without a support group to help and guide her.
"I was a ward of the court," she remembers today. "College was nothing my family would have been able to help me with anyway."
Admitted to campus through the Equal Opportunity Program, she was soon referred to a new program on campus, Student Support Services, and "was welcomed with open arms.
"It was a small community within a campus that could overwhelm you," explained Magallanes, now an assistant principal at Centennial High School in Corona. "I was very lucky to be a part of a great program."
Today, more than 150 students are getting the support, advice and assistance they need to succeed in their college education, thanks to the federally funded program. And with the support of Student Support Services, students are graduating.
Humberto Gutierrez, a junior kinesiology major, entered the program about a year ago after applying to work in the program office as a student assistant. "If I had known about the program as a freshman, I would have jumped at the chance. It has helped me make some pretty big strides academically, as well as how I carry myself around campus and professionally. I love the program."
"Our average cohort is 30 students, and roughly 30 graduate each year," said Lili Tautolo, the program's director. "Last year, 43 of our students graduated. SSS has set retention, graduation and good academic standing goals that need to be achieved and reported every year for continued funding.
"We provide a variety of services to first-generation and low-income students," explained Tautolo, who has served with the program for 16 years. "We assist as needed, from a counselor they meet with at least three times a semester for guidance, to study skills workshops and courses, career and graduate/professional school advisement, academic tutoring, equipment and book loans and assistance in filling out financial aid paperwork."
The program, which recently received $271,051 as part of a five-year, $1.1 million U.S. Department of Education grant, also offers student grant aid.
"The SSS TRIO Grant is awarded to first- and second-year program participants who are also Pell Grant recipients," said Tautolo. "The average award is $850. Last year, a total of $27,844 was awarded."
For Magallanes, what helped the most was the sense of having of a support group that kept urging her on toward her educational goals.
"SSS offered not only academic support and counseling, but a place for us to meet and network with other SSS students; this became my CSUF family," said Magallanes. "I graduated with my B.S. [in kinesiology in 2000] and went on to obtain my Ed.D. years later, checking in with my SSS counselor intermittently for a social update and other times for advice. Lili and SSS helped support me though the unknowns of university life and along the way, became an enduring friend whom I could return to and be welcomed by, regardless of time or circumstance.
"For students like me, who do not come from a background of college graduates ... SSS was able to provide support that parents and family do not have the ability to. Providing support and somewhere to network with others who could relate to my reality made the sometimes terrifying uncertainty of university life acceptable and success realistic."