RISE: Helping Financially or Academically Disadvantaged Students with Dawn Singleton

Rowan Students Walking on Campus

Today Director of the Achieving Success through Collaboration, ENgagement, and Determination (ASCEND) program Dawn S. Singleton, Ed.D., talks with us about one of the ACSEND’s components – the RISE scholarship program. RISE provides financial and academic support to students as they transition from high school to college. RISE and the Education Opportunity Fund (EOF) are the two main components of the Rowan ASCEND program.

Dr. Dawn Singleton in her office in Savitz Hall

Natalia: Could you give me your perspective on the RISE program?

Dr. Singleton: RISE is a pipeline program for students who show academic promise, but may not necessarily be prepared to come to college. Students need to attend a 6-week Summer Bridge program, and in that program, we give them a preview of what campus life is like by providing some academic courses and workshops to give them their best head start for the academic year. RISE is available for all four years.

Natalia: You mentioned that they will have to do a summer program, right? Let’s say I’m a high school student, how would I find out about this program and apply for it?

Dr. Singleton: We have recruiters to go out to high schools and talk about the ASCEND program in general. They’re talking about which one you may qualify for based on what you share or demonstrate. We have a newly launched website. If a student calls in and we feel they may qualify for the program, we transfer the call to the person in Admissions, who plucks them from the general population to the RISE program and tells them more about it.

Natalia: On the Rowan website it says RISE offers financial assistance. Could you talk a little more about what types of financial aid RISE provides?

Dr. Singleton: RISE is funded through the University scholarship program, unlike state-funded EOF. It was formerly called the Achieving the Dream Scholarship. So now those funds have been repurposed to help support students who qualify for RISE, but do not qualify for EOF. The minimum a student gets is about $4,000. But depending on the status the student presents they may qualify for more funding. Student have to meet some minimum qualifications and terms, like the GPA and participate in some of the academic support we offer during the academic year. We’d love to be able to give more, so we’re always on lookout for donors, trying to enhance the program, so that students as well as the University community see the benefit.

Natalia: What about students with low GPA, are they still be eligible for the program?

Dr. Singleton: By the end of their freshman year here at Rowan, a student needs to have a 2.7 GPA. RISE students get all types of academic support: success coaching, tutors if needed, a direct connection with their academic advisors, and a counselor whose goal is to push them and motivate them to graduation. But we know things still happen, right? It’s your freshman year in college. So, we don’t automatically remove the funding if you are below the 2.7, we try to see why did you get that 2.7 in your first semester. We give students “a probationary period” to work with them and give some recommendations for the next semester. And if it doesn’t increase, then we interrupt the funding for a short period. It’s about the student getting to a level where they are able to persist on within the University, but we do not want funding to be the barrier from persisting. And then the goal is that the probation is enough and students would work toward getting their funding back.

Natalia: How would you evaluate program yourself, would you say it’s successful? Do you know how many students approximately participate every summer in the program?

Dr. Singleton: Prior to us becoming the ASCEND program overall, the program had between about 175 students that came in and were qualified for the EOF program. This year our goal is 250. 45 students will come through the Camden Campus EOF program. And 205 will be EOF and RISE students, that are participating in the Glassboro program.

Natalia: Would you like to add something else?

The program just in our data and our numbers shows that we really do a great job in getting students to persist, but by persist I mean to have a successful freshman year at the University and return their sophomore year. And we’re looking to really build upon that history, and continue to provide students the resources they need to have a good start at the University.

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Story organized by:
Natalia Panfilova