By: Maya Brown

Pictured from left to right- Dr. Howard Gibson,Dr. Dorie Gilbert, Kendra Sharp, Dr. Robert Harper, Dr. Brandon Dumas, and Jonas Vanderbilt

Wiley College and Prairie View A&M University have established an undergraduate to graduate school pipeline for Wiley students. The collaboration will include set-asides reserved for Wiley students who wish to continue their education.

The partnership was the brainchild of Kendra Sharp, Director of Career Services at Wiley. In 2019, Sharp polled the senior class to get an idea of the soon-to-be graduates’ plans following departure. Her survey results indicated that nearly 50% of students were interested in pursuing an advanced degree at the Masters and Ph.D. level. She explains that she made an immediate decision to organize a “top-tier” grad fair.

“From the time I started here, students at Wiley had such respect for and showed a lot of deference to Prairie View. When PV came and presented at the grad fair, they were swarming over to their set up,” says Sharp.

Wiley students echoed each other’s desire to attend a graduate school in Texas that had tuition costs comparable to Wiley’s. Sharp recalls quickly realizing that establishing a direct pipeline to the graduate school could be highly impactful for graduating seniors.

“I thought, ‘let’s set something up so we can be intentional about this,’” says Sharp, who then contacted Dr. Robert Harper, a consultant with Prairie View’s Office of Graduate Studies, to schedule information sessions.

“He even came [to Wiley] to sit in the cafe with us for fried chicken Wednesdays, which was really great,” she explains.

Harper has a history of being able to recruit Wiley students to PV graduate-level programs. Due to his work at a couple of UNCF schools in East Texas, Harper explains that he was very familiar with Wiley College.

During his February visit, Harper garnered the interest of several students, noting that many of them were particularly inquisitive about the Community Development, Sociology, and Business Administration graduate programs.

Ten Wiley graduates transitioned as part of the 2019 cohort. Kendra Sharp hopes that the partnership continues to see growth.

“It’s a family affair. Prairie View wants to fill their classrooms with students they’ve been able to build a relationship with,” she says.

She also notes that Dr. Harper has been key in the recruitment process and goes as far as placing phone calls to students to inquire about the status of their applications.

PV’s partnership will offer incentives to Wiley students, including waived application fees, waived test scores, and on-campus housing stipends.

“I am very excited about the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Prairie View A&M University. The MOU is a win-win partnership for both institutions; The agreement allows students to transition seamlessly to the next educational level (Graduate School) and for an affordable price while not having to leave the state,” says Dr. Howard Gibson, Wiley College’s Vice President of Academic Affairs.

Students can expect to receive frequent emails from the Office of Career Services regarding workshops and information sessions on transitioning into the Prairie View graduate program.

There is currently no cap on the number of students they are accepting via this partnership. All graduating seniors who maintain a 3.0 GPA are invited to inquire and apply.

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