UpGRADS Builds on Earlier Programs’ Success
Project UpGRADS, the new Cal State Fullerton effort to support first-generation, under-represented students succeed at the graduate level, is following on the heels of two earlier successful programs: EPOCHS and SOAR.
Enhancing Postbaccalaureate Opportunities at Cal State Fullerton for Hispanic Students began in 2010 and offered Hispanic and other disadvantaged graduate students such support as orientation in Spanish, a bilingual newsletter, tutoring and academic skills workshops, mentors, graduate success consultants and grants to support graduate student research.
The success of the program was recognized in 2016 by “Examples of Excelencia,” a national initiative to system-atically identify and promote evidence-based programs and departments that effectively boost Latino enrollment, performance and education.
SOAR, or Strengthening Opportunities, Access and Resources, was instituted in 2014 and added an online learning community, academic resources, professional development and networking opportunities, and financial support by way of scholarships.
As a result of the two programs, Hispanic graduate student enrollment at Cal State Fullerton has increased by 80 percent, and graduation rates for such students improved to 50 percent for two-year and 70 percent for three-year graduations.
“We introduced them to a culture promoting postbaccalaureate education,” explains Katherine Powers, who received the grants that support all three programs. “More importantly, we make sure that they feel like they belong and that they can succeed."
“We start with graduate student orientation — begun with EPOCHS — and get students connected,” said upGRADS Director Luis Molina, who was a first-generation student himself. “And now we’re collaborating with other campus offices to let underrepresented under-graduates know if they want it, graduate school is possible … that programs like upGRADS can truly benefit their education.”