Devin Grant arrived at Wiley College in 2013 as a quiet and reserved freshman who earned modest grades. Now a junior at Wiley, she has come out of her shell and her grades have improved.
"She is thriving," said Donza Stanley, Director of the Sophomore Year Experience Program (SYE) in Wiley's Student
Success Academy. Ms. Stanley met Ms. Grant, an accounting major, last fall when the student transitioned from the academy's program for freshmen and began participating in the SYE Program.
"Devon experienced growth her freshman year, and we took the torch and continued our journey with her in the SYE," said Stanley. "I began engaging in frequent conversations with her and did room checks to let her know we are on her team," she said. "Little by little she began to open up even more and to blossom."
Grant's growth was so substantial that she is now applying to be a tutor in the SYE program. Stanley is proud to see how well the program worked for Grant. "We don't put students in a box," she said. "Each is unique, so we customize our programs to meet the needs and goal of each student."
Wiley's two-year Student Success Academy aims to impact the achievement of freshman and sophomore students through programs including intrusive advisement, close monitoring of performance, and a strong component of support such as tutoring by academic coaches as soon as weak areas are detected.
"Our overall goal is to accomplish a rapid and lasting 'culture change' by helping students establish life management habits and successful study routines that will help them persist, " said Dr. Joseph L. Morale, Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services at Wiley. " We expect our students to take part in study groups and learning communities and to take full advantage of all the academy's programs," he said. Morale said the academy nurtures the whole student, focusing on academic, spiritual, social, and leadership development. "The prize for focusing on all these areas is seeing academically strong, engaged, and successful students."
The Student Success Academy opened its doors in August 2013 to serve new freshmen. The first year's statistics were so impressive that the College expanded the program to include a sophomore year component for 2014-2015. "We are pleased by the numbers we are seeing," said Morale. "During our first year, we saw an 86 percent return rate from fall to spring by our freshman, representing a 10 percent increase from our average retention over the last 10 years."
The Sophomore Year Experience Program saw similar impressive numbers at the end of its first year -- 93 percent of sophomores returned in spring 2015 to complete their second year of study at Wiley College. "These results have lead us to expand the program even more," said Morale. "This fall all freshman and sophomore transfer students must also enroll in and participate in the programs of the Student Success Academy."
The decision to expand to include transfer students couldn't have come at a better time. Last year, the Student Success Academy operated its Freshman Year and Sophomore Year Experience programs from the same space in the Wiley Pemberton Complex while waiting for the completion of new digs originally intended to serve freshman.
"With all the expansion, the freshman academy will stay put, and sophomores will move into the new location," said Morale. The ribbon cutting for the Sophomore Year Experience program took place the first week of September with a full house of freshmen, sophomores, academy staff, and well-wishers. "There was cake, punch, treats, speeches, applause, the whole nine yards of what you'd expect at an event such as this, "said Morale. "But now it's time for our students and the academy to get back to work."
Devin Grant applied for and was selected as one of 30 students to receive a $5,000 scholarship from the Anheuser-Busch Legends of the Crown Leadership Scholarship Program. As part of the program, she and all the recipients spent three days in July at Anheuser-Busch's St. Louis Headquarters attending workshops on leadership development and career planning.