Peer Tutoring = Student Success
Several initiatives, some new and others tried-and-true, are in place this fall to assist freshmen leap over the first-year
hurdles that often result in students’ dropping, withdrawing or failing a course.
Link2Success, or L2S, is built upon research that shows students benefit when they work closely with each other and
peer tutors. L2S consists of study sessions built into the course schedules for the high drop/withdraw/fail, or DWF
Historically, the stumbling blocks for freshmen are Composition I and II, History I and II, College Algebra and
Link2Success will serve about 1,640 students per semester and will provide on-campus employment for up to 120
students as tutors and coordinators.
“As an L2S coordinator, I feel I will be able to use my experience working with the tutors to help students on a larger
scale,” said Anyelin Roche. “L2S is a great concept, and I feel it will be the key for many students to get through their
freshman year successfully.”
Joining L2S are new programs implementing study tools through Khan Academy and the use of iPads in select classes.
Summer Bridge math students, who were the first to work with Khan Academy on supplied iPads, gave rave reviews
to the Khan approach to learning.
“The burden falls upon us as universities to ratchet them up and help them hone and develop their skills that are vital
not only to their success in college but their success in careers and lives in general,” said Dr. Javier Martinez, Dean of
the College of Liberal Arts.
Enrollment Services Components Now Conveniently Located Together
Convenience is the operating word at the new
Enrollment Center @ the Tower, where first-time
and returning students had all of their enrollment
activities processed in a fresh, modern space by
cross-trained staff who facilitated students’ seamless
enrollment experiences. Encompassing the Offices
of Financial Aid,
Admissions and Recruitment,
the Registrar, Cashiers and Veterans Services,
the entire Enrollment team gave a cheer when the
semester’s official numbers were announced - they
had successfully enrolled a higher–than–anticipated
total of 8,420 students.
“Customer service is our number one priority,”
said Dr. Nikkie Hodgson, Executive Director
for Enrollment Services. “Our goal is to provide
exceptional service in one comfortable location.
Students will benefit because we will be able to
respond to all of their concerns.”
Further simplifying necessary visits, the Academic
Advising Center is now located just across the
courtyard from the Tower in Main 1.400, directly
below Salón Cassia.
“The mission of the Academic Advising Center is
to support students’ academic success,” said Selma
Yznaga, Director of Advising. “We provide services
for academic major exploration, workshops for
increasing GPA and accessing campus resources,
course planning, and preparation for graduation.”
Academic advising is required for freshmen and
students who are on academic probation. All students
are welcome and encouraged to see an advising
specialist throughout their academic career to get
support early on and stay on track for graduation.
“The Advising Center offers advising appointments on
campus, or via telephone, chat, or video conference,”
Yznaga said. “We strive to provide multiple options
for our students’ convenience. Anything we can do
to streamline their lives means they have more time
for their studies and family obligations. We are here
to help students reach their goal of finishing in four
years with a degree that will prepare them for their
Other relocations include:
Learning Enrichment has relocated to the second
floor of the Student Union, directly upstairs from
the student lounge.
Veterans Upward Bound is also located on the
second floor of the Student Union.
The Language Institute and the Office of Testing
have moved to Resaca Village, 1601 E. Price Road (at
the Expressway intersection).
The Division of Institutional Advancement has
set up shop in the historic Cueto Building at 1301
E. Madison St. The departments in this division
include Alumni Relations, University Relations,
Creative Services, News and Information and
The Center for Civic Engagement has moved next
door to the Cueto Building into the charming Lucena
Transforming Classroom Experiences Using Technology
Faculty members are taking innovative measures to transform the classroom experience using technology.
One initiative will include using iPads as a tool in select classes. Dr. Philip Samponaro, Assistant Professor of
integrates the devices that are loaned to the students for the semester to facilitate learning in his U.S. History I class.
“The incorporation of iPads enhances students’ critical thinking skills in reading, writing and communication by
accentuating individual participation in the class and increasing contact with peers,” Samponaro said. “Each week,
students create group presentations and then lead class discussions on specific primary source materials included in
the textbook chapter under consideration.”
Dr. Reynaldo Ramirez, Associate Professor for
Secondary and Science Education, is working with his graduate
students to help them engage their middle and high school environmental science students. One way is by capturing
images (artifacts) that can be used to create instructional materials. Ramirez’ student teams are developing these
materials that will be part of an iBook that can be shared with colleagues at their respective schools.
Dr. Matthew Benacquista, Professor in the
Department of Physics and Astronomy, is downloading all his general
education astronomy lecture material into an iTunes U style document. Using a mix of his own programming,
adapting keynote documents and commercial apps, he is incorporating animations and interactive materials into the
“We are excited to launch this new initiative and look forward to learning from the students who participate.” said Dr.
Janna Arney, Associate Provost for Faculty and Academic Affairs.
A Valuable Personal Assistant for College Students
An investment made by The University of Texas
System for students at all UT System schools has
brought MyEdu, a new “personal assistant,” to
“MyEdu is similar to Facebook, but it is definitely
more serious,” said Jesus Lopez, a Brownsville
sophomore working toward his Bachelor of
Business Administration in finance. “Actually,
it is a great way to build a résumé. I plan to
update my student profile a couple times during
each semester; by graduation the web pages will
present a clear picture to prospective employers
of who I am and what I have to offer.”
With the profile, students can visually present
their classes, projects, internships and the
talents and passions that make them unique. It
can be tailored to highlight personal experiences
such as group projects, language skills, military
service, certifications, and community service
and work history.
“Students have repeatedly told us that they are
not well-served by the traditional résumé or
most professional networking sites,” said Frank
Lyman, Senior Vice President of Products and
Marketing at MyEdu. “It takes more than reading
a list of historical jobs to truly understand what
a student or young professional is capable of.”
Students Design New KMBH Website
Cristian Torres, a senior computer
science and music/vocal performance
major from Matamoros, Mexico, and
Pedro Rodriguez, a graduate student in
educational technology from Harlingen,
have designed a new website for the
Rio Grande Valley’s public radio and
television station KMBH. The updated
website, kmbh.org, includes television
and radio schedules, larger photographs,
social media links and an online donation
Dr. Juan R. Iglesias, Associate Professor
and Chair of the School of Engineering
and Computational Science, said the
program is always seeking opportunities
to match students’ skills with businesses
and organizations that want computer
and online expertise.
For more information on partnerships
with the School of Engineering and
Computational Science, contact Iglesias
at 956-882-6605 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Student Attends Young Latina Leaders Conference
Rachel Ballesteros, a 22-year-old senior and
Texas Academic Rising Scholars] scholarship student, said
it pays to read the online campus announcements – that
is where she learned about the Latinas Learning to Lead
Program in Washington, D.C.
Ballesteros was one of 22 female students from throughout
the country – and one of two from Texas – selected for
the 2013 summer program of the National Hispana
“Attending the conference was such an amazing week for
me,” Ballesteros said. “We were busy from early morning
until late every evening; I learned so much and came back
The group attended classes, ventured forth to tour the
sights, witnessed Congress in session and attended
presentations by motivational speakers.
A 2009 Harlingen High School graduate, Ballesteros
is the second to last of 10 children, and the first in her
family to pursue higher education. She will graduate from
UTB in December 2013 with her Bachelor of Applied
Arts and Sciences with a concentration in psychology and
sociology. Next step: graduate school to prepare for her
career in guidance and counseling.
Since transferring to UTB in August of 2012, Ballesteros
has worked with students as an Upward Bound tutor at
Rio Hondo High School.
Two Programs Lauded for Latino Student Success
The Student Employment Initiative Program (SEI) and the
College of Science, Mathematics and Technology (CMST)
were named among the top programs in the U.S. increasing
Latino student success in college.
Excelencia in Education, the only national initiative to
honor programs boosting Latino academic achievement
in higher education, placed CMST among the 18 finalists
that included 165 programs from 22 states, the District of
Columbia and Puerto Rico. SEI received top honors as the
number one initiative at the baccalaureate level.
“At UTB, SEI has been able to successfully incorporate oncampus
internships that help students define their roles
as students and future professionals while encouraging
dedication and success each semester,” said Juan Andres
Rodriguez, SEI Program Director.
Excelencia in Education systematically reviewed more than
500 programs to identify and recognize over 100 programs
and departments that demonstrate with evidence that they
effectively boost Latino enrollment, performance and
“The spirit of innovation has long been a part of the UT
Brownsville campus culture,” said Dr. Juliet V. Garcia,
UTB President. “Our faculty and staff are relentless in
seeking ways to improve student success through initiatives
that have regional relevance and the potential for global