JANS – Jackson State University is one of 76 new members selected to join the 2023-2024 First Scholars Network through the Center for First-generation Student Success. Supported by an initiative of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and The Suder Foundation, First Scholars Network members must demonstrate a commitment to improving experiences and advancing success for first-generation college students.
“It’s all about networking and learning about how to serve that population of first generation students,” said Susan E. Powell-Jones, Ed.D., JSU executive director of College Access. “When we received the notification saying that we were accepted, I was excited to learn that JSU will be a part of this network.”
The First Scholars Network is a four-phase approach that allows institutions of higher education to advance student success through establishing communities of practice, gaining knowledge of resources, and establishing peer networks. More than 350 institutions of higher education have entered the Network, representing 49 states and the District of Columbia. JSU is one of two HBCUs to join the network in this round, bringing the total number of HBCU members to seven.
“The Center is pleased to welcome Jackson State University into the First Scholars Network,” said Sarah E. Whitley, Ph.D., vice president of the Center for First-generation Student Success. “Through the application process, it was evident that JSU is not only taking steps to serve first-generation students, but is prepared to make a long-term commitment and employ strategies that foster an environment of success for this important population.”
As a network member, interested faculty and staff are afforded opportunities to engage with peer institutions that are also working to create environments that improve the experiences and success of first-generation students, and will participate in monthly calls, professional development, goal setting, blog development, annual reporting, and more.
“We are grateful to be a part of this network and to be the first HBCU in Mississippi to be highlighted for our efforts in making sure that our first generation students will receive the services and resources that they need to be successful,” Mitchell Shears, Ed.D., JSU associate vice president for Student Success and executive director of Title III said.
JSU’s TRIO Program is one of many initiatives that ensures first-generation students are welcomed and prepared for their four-year collegiate experience. The TRIO Program provides counseling and information on college admissions and services to improve participants’ financial and economic literacy. Among comprehensive services are academic and personal counseling, tutoring and mentoring, career workshops, information on postsecondary education opportunities, student financial assistance. and help in completing applications for college admissions.
Arthur Saint-Cyr, first generation scholars program coordinator, assists in overseeing the assimilation of JSU’s first-gen students as they enter campus. He said he is really excited to work with the many institutions in the network.