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Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Engagement & Success

First-Gen Spotlight: Arath Dominguez 

The Dallas Morning News recently featured Arath Dominguez, a first-generation student at SMU. In the article, Arath describes his experience as a first-generation student and explains why he chose to attend SMU. Coming from a family of seven he knew he wanted to go to a school where he could thrive while staying close to his family. He is pursuing a B.A. in computer science and a B.S. in data science. Society of Hispanic Engineers (SHPE) has opened many doors to engage in opportunities to engage with people from diverse backgrounds which led him to switch his degree from electrical engineering. “Thanks to the contacts I made through SHPE, I interned at AT&T as a data scientist. This experience solidified my passion for pursuing a career in data science or technology consulting and reinforced my desire to work for a company that values diversity.”

He notes his strong alliance with Student Financial Services and how crucial it is to keep applying for scholarships even after high school. “I did not stop looking for scholarships during my undergraduate career. Students are not limited to not only getting scholarships during high school.” A combination of federal grants, merit scholarships, and institutional support has aided Arath in attending SMU paying for almost 95% of his tuition!

Lastly, he emphasizes how important it is for first-generation students just to ask for help. “Just asking questions is crucial, especially for first-gen students like me. I struggled with this because I didn’t want to reveal that I didn’t know what was going on, even when I didn’t. In hindsight, I would’ve benefited from asking more questions.” Asking questions has allowed Arath to be successful and seek more resources to help him through his academic career.

“Failure is a natural part of the learning process, and you need to be open to it to identify areas for growth, So don’t be afraid to ask questions even if you feel like the person next to you has it all figured out. Because the truth is, they probably don’t. – Arath Dominguez

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Academic Center for Excellence Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center First-Generation Initiative Honors and Scholars Office of General Education Offices & Programs Rotunda Scholars SMU in Four Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs Student Success & Retention

Student Senate Awards First-Generation Scholarship

The First-Generation Initiative is excited to announce that on March 26th, Student Senate passed legislation, which appropriates $50,000 per year exclusively to Pell Grant, first-generation students. This first-gen scholarship will begin in Fall 2024 and last for the next nine years (Spring 2033).

A huge thanks to all of Student Senate for the unanimous vote, but a special thanks to: Alex Alarcón, Clayton Meyer, Michael Castle, and Wyatt Harms! We also want to thank the First-Generation Initiative’s former graduate/student assistants, Briana Morales and Guadalupe Roman, for their determination in continuing to push for more first-gen support.

 

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Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center First-Generation Initiative Rotunda Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

First-Gen Feature: Caroline Madrid

First-generation college students must overcome unique obstacles to be successful in college. Every obstacle comes with a story worth hearing. First-Gen Feature is a chance for first-generation college students to showcase their stories. Caroline Madrid, a first-year student shares what being first-gen means to her.

Q: What was your motivation for pursuing college?

A: My motivation for pursuing college was simply just to make my grandpa proud, he was a very smart man and he always inspired me to pursue my dreams. My parents were also another motivation, my parents worked really hard my entire childhood to provide for me and my siblings, and being able to return the favor was really important for me.

Q: What are your career goals?

A: My career goal is to make it as a lawyer and ultimately raise a happy family. As a first-gen, I’ve watched my parents work tirelessly every day to provide for me and my family and even today, they continue to work hard so I can be here. I want to not only release this burden off their shoulders but work hard for my future family.

Q: What extracurricular activities are you involved In and how do you manage course load and other aspects of life?

A: I have two jobs and Rotunda scholars where I have monthly and weekly requirements. The best way I have found to manage my courseload is to maintain my priorities and remember what I came to SMU for. Every day here at SMU is a reminder of the life I want to provide for myself and my family, and that gives me the strength to focus on my studies.

Q: What achievements are you most proud of?

A: Considering I am in my first year, I am proud of myself of staying persistent on my academics and maintaining good discipline while managing my two jobs and social relationships.

Q: Advice for first-gen students?

A: Don’t fight your battles alone, for so long I always thought I had nobody to help me through my hardships but after coming to SMU I realized so many of the faculty care about you and your success and truly want to see you succeed.

 

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First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Success Programs

First-Gen Social “Let’s Talk About FAFSA”

On Feb. 15, 30 first-gen students attended a workshop sponsored by the First-Gen Initiative, First-Gen Association, and Financial Literacy to discuss the changes in the FAFSA, answer questions and socialize. The presentation was conducted by Jennifer Gomez with several Financial Services advisors in attendance for one-on-one discussions. Also joining the students were members of the University Advising Center, who mixed with the students and discussed summer and fall registration plans. Thank you FGI, FGA and Financial Literacy for sponsoring an informative program in an informal way to help our first-gen students. The Ben and Jerry’s ice cream was enjoyed by ALL!

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Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Success & Retention

Success starts here: Secure your coaching appointment!

What is Success Coaching?

Achieving success in college requires more than just good study habits. It involves the development and alignment of your academic, social, and emotional selves to become a well-rounded individual. That’s why SMU provides one-on-one success coaching for students. This free service supports students academically as well as personally. Our experienced SSR team works individually with students to identify their goals, understand any obstacles they may face, and help them achieve academic and personal growth for a more enriching college experience.

Academic Counseling vs. Success Coaching

How can I schedule a session?

Please follow the steps below to schedule an appointment with our Success Coach:

  1. Go to our scheduling page by clicking the link provided.
  2. Choose a convenient time slot that works best for you. You can either select a virtual or in-person meeting based on your preference.
  3. Fill out a brief form to provide some information about your objectives and needs. This will enable our Success Coach to personalize the session to your unique requirements.
  4. Once you have scheduled your appointment, you will receive an email confirmation with all the details about the meeting.

During your meeting with our Success Coach, you can expect a judgment-free environment, personalized guidance tailored to your goals and challenges, as well as actionable insights and strategies to overcome any obstacles you may be facing.

If you have additional questions or concerns, Contact the Office of Student Success and Retention by emailing ssr@smu.edu or calling 214-768-1231.

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First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Success Programs

First Gen Fest a success

The First Gen Initiative (FGI) and the First Gen Student Association (FGA), with support from SMU Student Senate, collaborated for the 2023 annual First Gen Fest. The celebration was a huge success with over 500 students, faculty, and staff celebrating our First Generation Mustangs. Chris Meyers (SASP/SAES), Brandon Kitchin (SCIE/Student Affairs), and members of the First Gen Student Association (FGA) coordinated food, games, resource tables and give aways to celebrate the contributions and successes of our First Gen Mustangs.

Thank you, Chris Meyers and Brandon Kitchin
Thank you partners, for our resource tables
Great food
First Gen T shirts were a hit
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First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs

First Gen Fest 2023

Join us November 8th as we celebrate our First Gen students!  Co-sponsored by First Gen Assn and First Gen initiative
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Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center First-Generation Initiative Student Academic Success Programs

Student Academic Success Programs adds additional staff

SASP is fully staffed to kick of the fall, 2023 semester!

Please join us in welcoming Gracy Herrera as the new academic probation counselor. Gracy will counsel all pre-major students on academic probation. Gracy is an education advocate with over 14 years’ experience developing academic courses of action for students of varying social backgrounds, scholastic levels, and special needs. Gracy has most recently focused on advancing the skills of student-athletes in Dubai. Gracy will start next Monday, August 7.

We are also excited to welcome Makenzie Moriarty as the new academic counselor. Makenzie will counsel declared majors on academic probation, university probation, Prelude students, and the general undergraduate population. Makenzie comes to SMU from the University of South Carolina where she was a GA in the Student Success Center working to empower peer leaders and counsel students who were working to transfer to USC.  Makenzie will start next Monday, August 7.

Varun Singh is our new Graduate Assistant for the First-Generation Initiative.  Varun will work closely with Chris Meyers to support our first-gen students and implement our signature events. Varun is pursuing a MS in Business Analytics in the Cox School of Business. Varun has worked as a head organizer for a film festival, managed various projects, and has spent the last six years starting and managing his own real estate and construction firm. Varun will start next Wednesday, August 9.

We’d also like to thank our colleagues who assisted in the search process for all our positions this spring and summer – your collaborations are so appreciated.

Categories
Academic Center for Excellence First-Generation Initiative Honors and Scholars Rotunda Scholars

New Success Counselor joins Rotunda Staff

Briana Morales joins the Honors and Scholars team as the new Rotunda Scholars Success Counselor. A Texas Native, first-generation college graduate, and SMU alum, Briana earned her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and is currently pursuing her Master of Science in the SMU Counseling program. Since her time as an undergraduate, Briana worked with SMU’s First-Generation Initiative and First-Generation Association as a fierce advocate for many students whose struggles she knows too well.

Briana’s experience mentoring students, coordinating student centered events, and building relationships across campus will be a welcome addition to the Rotunda family. Briana is excited to join the Rotunda support system and community as it grows in number and expands services. Her favorite part of serving students is the relief and joy on students’ faces when they see how much you care. To her, there is no greater feeling than showing someone you care about their well-being and success. We are excited for Briana to join our team and begin working June 19th.

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Academic Center for Excellence Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center First-Generation Initiative Hilltop Scholars Mustang Scholars National Fellowships Office of General Education President’s Scholars Student Academic Engagement & Success Student Academic Success Programs University Advising Center University Honors Program

Writing Center is open Summer 2023

SMU’s Writing Center in the Altshuler Learning Enhancement Center (A-LEC) is open this summer from June 1 – July 31!  Appointment times are:   

  • Mon – Thurs 2:30-5 (in person at the A-LEC)
  • Tues & Thurs 4-6:30 (ZOOM)
  • Fri 2:30-4:30 (in person at the A-LEC);  Sun 5-8 (ZOOM)     

Book an appointment with a Writing Center Faculty Member in Canvas.