First-generation college student third VP candidate

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Dr. Gerardo Moreno, candidate for vice president for student success, answers a question from a Travis Early College High School student Feb. 4 in Room 120 of visual arts. Students asked about topics ranging from college dining to the success rate of students enrolled in the Islander Advocacy Program. Moreno implemented the program for upperclassmen to mentor incoming freshmen at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.  Photo by Brandon A. Edwards

Dr. Gerardo Moreno, candidate for vice president for student success, answers a question from a Travis Early College High School student Feb. 4 in Room 120 of visual arts. Students asked about topics ranging from college dining to the success rate of students enrolled in the Islander Advocacy Program. Moreno implemented the program for upperclassmen to mentor incoming freshmen at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Photo by Brandon A. Edwards

Plan aims to help at-risk, low-income students.

By Melissa Luna

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Dr. Gerardo Moreno, who grew up in a migrant family, made it clear Feb. 4 his student success plan targets first-time-in-college and first-generation students starting their academic careers.

The audience in the visual arts center included almost 30 students from Travis Early College High School.

Moreno, assistant vice president for student success at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, is the third candidate in the running for vice president for student success at this college.

“I’d like to start something that will have an impact on students,” Moreno said.

His goal is to design and implement advising programs that will help retention efforts.

Moreno asked the audience, “How many of you are first in your family to go to college?”

The majority of students raised a hand.

He outlined his plans to start a First Scholars Academy where first-generation students could receive specialized help in financial aid, scholarships, books and support groups.

If chosen, Moreno also will concentrate on federally funded programs and help promote future practices that are consistent with a learning-centered college environment.

At the university, Moreno helped implement the Islander Advocate Program, where every new student is assigned an upperclassman mentor to guide them through their first year in school.

Peer mentoring, especially through the first year, can ease the stress and headaches of incoming students, Moreno said.

A hectic first year can lead to students not finishing the year, and some students choose not to return to school, he said.

Liberal arts sophomore Mike Nguyen asked Moreno, “Why are you choosing to come to a community college from a four-year university?”

“Because they don’t need me at Texas A&M anymore,” Moreno said. “They have the established programs. Now it’s time to help a community college.”

Moreno grew up in a migrant family. His father only made it to the third grade, while his mother didn’t go to school at all.

“If someone from a migrant family can do it, you are more than capable of doing it,” Moreno said.

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