Published by NMSUnews on Sept. 26, 2015: This fall, NMSU launched a new retention initiative for the incoming freshmen class called the student success navigators. Every one of the 1,993 freshmen has been assigned a student success navigator.
September 28, 2015 by Tiffany Acosta, NMSU News Center
First-year college students may experience roadblocks adjusting to their new environment, and New Mexico State University has a new program to help students maneuver around those challenges.
This fall, NMSU launched a new retention initiative for the incoming freshmen class called the student success navigators. Every one of the 1,993 freshmen has been assigned a student success navigator.
“It’s a unique mentoring program on campus because we are going to keep them until the end of their sophomore year,” said Marissa Macias, cross-campus adviser and program director of the student success navigators. “There’s a lot of information that students need to learn to be successful in college, and one semester maybe two semesters isn’t enough to learn all of that. The hope is we’ve given them all of the foundational skills they need to be really successful in college.”
The student success navigators are a peer mentoring system. The navigators consist of two full-time staff members, Christina Calentine and Brenda Purcell, and 11 graduate assistant students, Kandi Acero, Dora Caro, Armando Martinez Cantu, Jamie Jones, David Maestas, Greg Mallory, Gabriel Mendez, Channing Moore, Freddie Romero, Janelle Roybal and Joshua Rex Vanderhoof. Each of the six NMSU academic colleges has its own student success navigators.
“Each navigator has a caseload within their college,” Macias said. “They do have a set group of students they are primarily responsible for, but everybody is helping everybody’s students.
“It’s a true mentoring relationship so you need to have it with one individual to get the support and depth of conversations we know we need to have in order to address the underlying issues that sometimes give students roadblocks when they are here.”
The program was created after Provost Dan Howard learned about similar programs at some of NMSU’s peer institutions. The student success navigators are a student engagement program under the direction of Terry Cook, assistance vice president for student engagement. In recent years, NMSU has assigned each student a specific academic adviser and financial aid adviser and now the student success navigators are a new resource on a student’s success team.
The student success navigators first contacted freshmen through an introduction email, and the team is now following up with personalized phone calls and one-on-one meetings with students. According to Macias about 1,200 of the nearly 2,000 freshmen have been contacted.
“One of the main reasons that we started this is because we know that our students need continuous support in order to be successful,” Macias said. “We want to make sure that all the freshmen had one point of contact, where they could go to for anything. The navigators can answer and help with a lot of questions students have, we can’t do absolutely everything obviously, but we are really serving as a reference point to refer people to all the other good resources we have here on campus.
“We realize that not all students are going to need help at the beginning of the semester, but another batch will need help in the middle of the semester, and another batch will need help during finals and transitioning over the Christmas break. Everybody will interact with us at some point or another during this first semester,” she said.
Access and availability are key components to the program, and the student success navigators are centrally located in Corbett Center Student Union Room 244.
“Some of the goals are helping students realize some of the little details that can slip through the cracks and just having a central place on campus where students can go to for help,” Macias said.
“We have plenty of availability for students to see us whenever they need help, somebody is on call.”
The office is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8 to 5 p.m. Friday and 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, visit http://navigators.nmsu.edu.