Capital’s Connect2Complete (C2C) program is similar to other projects in that it is unique to the campus needs. At Capital, our program is focused mainly on the classroom level, and using an introductory University level course to help provide first generation, Pell eligible students with the resources they will need to be successful. As the VISTA, my job includes a lot of capacity building in regards to University 199 – from creating evaluation tools and tracking the progress of current measures to improve the effectiveness of the course overall. I’ve also been working on finding a way to digitize all of these tools and resources, so that they are more sustainable, as well as easier to update over time. This will also make the analysis portion of the feedback collection quicker, allowing Capital’s Connect2Complete team even more information about their student cohort.
Another key piece of the Capital C2C program is the Peer Advocate program. Currently, we have 7 Peer Advocates – students who serve in the University 199 classroom (during the Fall semester) and lead a workshop section once a week. They connect with their students on a peer-to-peer level, and are able to deliver the key messages of the course through activities and presentations. They also serve as a great role model for our students who may not know the “hidden rules” of college life. All of our Peer Advocates went through Ohio Benefit Bank (OBB) training in the Fall Semester, so they are now able to connect students to even more resources outside of the university, while also participating in Professional Development. It’s particularly rewarding to observe how serving in this role not only benefits our University 199 students, but the Peer Advocates, as well. Just as the students are learning from them, they are learning from their students; they are able to relate and interact with students that they would not normally get the chance to meet at Capital University, despite its small community!
On a personal note, serving as the AmeriCorps VISTA has been an eye-opening experience. I decided to dedicate a year of service because I enjoy helping people, and I wanted to be able to create intentional change. Being able to spend every day working to improve the lives of students has cemented my aspirations of working in Higher Education as a Student Affairs professional. I look forward to continuing the rest of my term, and working to make Capital University a welcome place for first generation, Pell eligible students.
Written by Grace Day