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Coordinating Board Awards Nursing, Dietetics Grant To SHSU

Aug. 27, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May

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The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has awarded Sam Houston State University $150,000 to assist with the recruitment and retention of students for two academic programs in which minority students have been historically underrepresented.

The Collegiate Hispanic and African American Mentoring Program, known as CHAAMP, will target first-generation students in the two ethnic groups who are preparing for application to the Master of Science degree in dietetics and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The CHAAMP program begins on Sept. 1.

During the 2012-13 academic year, only 17 percent of the 80 students who were admitted to SHSU’s nursing program were African American and Hispanic. Of the 10 students who were admitted to the dietetics program in fall 2013, only two students were African American or Hispanic.

However, while African American and Hispanic students are underrepresented in the dietetics and nursing programs at SHSU, they are better represented university-wide, making up 35 percent of the total student enrollment, according to Jack Turner, assistant dean in the College of Health Sciences and director of the CHAAMP project.

“Both the dietetics and nursing programs are highly competitive and scholastically demanding,” said Turner. “We often see students in these two ethnic groups who have the interest, desire and work ethic to be successful. However, these students often lack a strong academic background. Without a supportive academic program such as CHAAMP, these students frequently fall through the cracks.”

During the first year of the project, an estimated 30 students in the SHSU medical and allied health and the food science and nutrition programs will be selected based on a student-needs assessment and qualifying criteria.

The students who participate in CHAAMP will be required to attend weekly study groups focusing on study skills and academic expectations; submit grade check forms periodically; be engaged in community projects both academically and within their community; attend workshops focusing on issues that minority students face, such as test anxiety and ESL barriers; and be involved with a professional speaker series, which will bring minority faculty and experts from the healthcare professions field in to speak with program participants.

“Ideally, in year two of the project, all students will remain active in the program,” Turner said.

Administrators with the CHAAMP project plan to mirror and extend an existing, THECB-funded mentoring program at SHSU—the Establishing Leadership In and Through Education (ELITE) program—which has a proven successful track record in the recruitment and retention of minority males.

“We intend to meet with the administrators of the ELITE program to synergistically capitalize on goals and address our common concerns,” said Turner. “We will have two separate programs, but working together, we will be able to effectively serve even more students in a better way.”

Expected outcomes for the CHAAMP project include increasing test scores on the Test of Essential Academic Skills, which is used as the admission test for the nursing program; improving GRE scores for students who are completing the undergraduate dietetics program and wish to continue at the graduate level; and increasing scores on the national licensing examinations for both nursing and dietetics.

“A concern we’ve observed among underrepresented minority students is the lack of qualifying performances on standardized exams,” said Turner. “In most of these testing scenarios, there are limits as to how frequently and the absolute number of times students can takes these tests.

“Our goal is to increase the student’s skills on these standardized exams such that their performance is commensurate with competitive levels,” he said. “After all, our job here is to help students.”

For more information about participating in the CHAAMP program, contact Turner at 936.294.2300.


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