Austin Community College District (ACC) has been selected as a 2021 Examples of Excelencia national finalist for accelerating student success through the Guided Pathways Advising Through Coaching program. The program is one of 21 finalists selected nationwide and the only community college program recognized in Texas.
ACC’s proactive student coaching initiative launched in fall 2018 as a part of ACC’s Guided Pathways program. From the start of their college journey, advisors work with students on a range of issues, including their financial situation, personal wellness, time-management skills, and career readiness.
Data indicate proactive student coaching with two or more sessions with an advisor increased the likelihood of term-to-term persistence for Hispanic students by 15 percentage points fall 2017 to spring 2020.
“ACC is committed to critical work developing a highly educated workforce. When our students succeed, our entire community thrives,” says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC chancellor. “Now more than ever, we need to uplift our underserved communities. By revolutionizing our programs and wraparound services, ACC is able to empower students to achieve higher education and career outcomes. We’re honored to be recognized as a finalist for Examples of Excelencia. This is a testament to the work happening here to empower our students to pursue their dreams and achieve their goals.”
The award, presented by Excelencia in Education, is the country’s only national effort to identify, aggregate, and promote evidence-based practices improving Latino student success in higher education.
“Examples of Excelencia identifies evidence-based programs that show, with intentionality and impact, what it means to truly serve Latino students and not just enroll them,” said Deborah Santiago, co-founder and CEO, Excelencia in Education.
This year, Excelencia received 145 program nominations from 23 states and Puerto Rico. Finalists are selected by a committee that assesses the strength of innovative, intentional, culturally relevant, and effective high-impact practices tailored to Latino students and their communities.
The 2021 Examples of Excelencia will be revealed Thursday, October 28, at the Celebración de Excelencia in Washington, D.C. Winners are chosen by a national selection committee composed of higher education leaders, grantmakers, professionals, and stakeholders.
SUPPORTING LATINX STUDENTS AT ACC
ACC continues to work to understand the growing and evolving Latinx population in our service area and create a more deliberate and empathic approach to social support services.
“We’ve been there. We know what it takes to go to college. I’ve been a first-time-in-college student. I know the struggles students go through. I remember the barriers that persist. I can relate to them and help guide them through the resources available so they can succeed in college,” says Diana Hernandez-Quinonez, Student Affairs advising supervisor. “It is an honor because I feel that I’m making a difference in students’ lives and helping them achieve their dreams — I see it as they move on to the university or graduate and move on to their career.”
The Latino student population makes up more than 38 percent of the college’s student body and is the fastest-growing demographic at ACC. In fall 2020, the college enrolled more than 15,300 Hispanic students, up 15 percent from fall 2015.
The number of awards completed by Latinx students at ACC increased by 20 percent in the last year and 90 percent over the past five years, with more than 4,200 students graduating in the 2020 academic year.
The college was certified as a Hispanic Serving Institution, a federal designation indicating the college maintains 25 percent or greater full-time equivalent Hispanic enrollment, in 2011. Texas Online Colleges ranked ACC the top Hispanic-Serving online college, for its commitment to Hispanic students and online programs. The recognition was based on student-faculty ratio, online programs offered, high graduation and retention rates, and academic influence. Read more about the honor here.