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Spotlight: DePaul University

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We first featured DePaul University in our post about fostering a campus community of peer support. Their broad use of formal and informal peer support is remarkable, as is how they conceptualize general student involvement as a way to facilitate it. 

We then included DePaul as an example of an institution excelling in their work to serve special populations like transfer students. In fact, DePaul has an entire page dedicated to providing resources for 13 specific populations, including commuter students, adult learners, veterans, and undocumented students.

With such impressive work, it’s no surprise that we decided to put the Knack Spotlight on DePaul University in an effort to learn more about the outstanding support programs they offer. Here are three of the most impactful ways DePaul is working to support student success.

Feature #1: Peer Mentoring for First Year Students

Students Together Are Reaching Success (STARS) is a peer mentoring program for first time students at DePaul. 

STARS is open to all students but the program directly invites first generation college students, students of color, and pell-eligible students to participate. It promises students five primary benefits — community, mentoring, advocacy, advising, and academic support. 

STARS notes that their supportive community helps students navigate institutional systems. The mentoring component is designed to connect students to the campus community and help them find the right opportunities to achieve their goals. STARS participants also benefit from the advocacy that the program offers to students struggling with personal or academic issues. Students involved in STARS can be connected with a staff member from the Office of Multicultural Student Success (OMSS) for one-on-one advising about personal or vocational concerns. Academic support through STARS is by way of OMMS and the Reaching for Academic Progress (R.A.P.) program. As part of the R.A.P. program, OMMS staff check student academic progress at the middle and end of each quarter, and they are also available for one-on-one meetings with students at midterms and finals. 

Students participating in STARS fill out a matching survey to connect with mentors, from whom they receive weekly check-ins. Serving as a mentor in STARS is positioned as a leadership opportunity at DePaul as well. 

Feature #2: Diversity Driven Post-College Success

The Men of Color Initiative (MOC) at DePaul University (MOC) is a post-college success program that is part of the Student Affairs diversity and culture commitment. It is housed in the OMSS, which has numerous programs and opportunities for students who are the first in their families to attend college in the United States. 

Combining diversity and culture with post-college success offers an informed approach to helping these students feel empowered and prepared for their next chapter. The MOC program aims to “provide opportunities for engagement that facilitate a sense of belonging, persistence to graduation, and readiness for life after college with a particular emphasis on the intersection of race, gender and college success.” 

The goals of the program are holistic. MOC provides an inclusive and supportive space for growth with skills important for academic and personal success. It also helps students develop a network of educational and professional contacts. Lastly, MOC aims to engage in “social-cultural dialogue that will enhance a student’s understanding of self and their relationship to different communities.”

The program offers growth and support in the following areas: navigation capital, academic success, race/ethnicity, masculinity, relationships, and gender identity/expression. Navigation capital is the skill to maneuver through social institutions that may be unfamiliar, like a university. Academic success is described as full engagement in the academic experience and making connections between the classroom and the world with attention to social justice. 

MOC also explores the relationship between race/ethnicity and the impact it has on perceptions of masculinity. The group hosts events related to this on campus as well, like Our Story! Men of Color at DePaul event and the Barbershop Series. Next, the program explores how relationships (biological and chosen) contribute to college success. Lastly, MOC examines the ways perceptions of gender identity and expression impact success in college and beyond. 

Students have two options to join MOC. The cohort option, a year-long program for first and second-year students, includes an array of benefits. Monthly workshops, academic and financial management support, mentorship, one-on-one coaching, and a stipend upwards of $500 are among the perks. There is also a large component dedicated to career preparedness. Job shadowing, career exploration and planning, internship search support, and sponsorship eligibility for professional development opportunities are among the support focused on developing students for post-college success. The at-large option to join MOC provides select opportunities to engage with program resources.

The impact of MOC is featured in Diverse: Issues in Education. Students in MOC hit benchmarks at a higher rate than men of color who do not participate in the program. These benchmarks are earning at least a 2.5 GPA and at least 48 credit hours by the end of freshman year, both of which are strong indicators that students will persist to graduation. The program was also featured in DePaul Magazine as part of the university’s innovative strategies in diversity and inclusion. 

Want to learn more about the MOC program creation and structure? This resource covers that and more. For more information about mentoring boys and young men of color, download this guide from MENTOR and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance

Feature #3: Comprehensive Career Coaching

DePaul takes a holistic approach to career coaching with PATHS (Providing Access Through Holistic Support). This career-focused program, categorized as an academic support resource at DePaul, is offered by OMSS to rising sophomores at the institution. However, juniors and seniors that are part of the OMSS target population can also apply.

PATHS uses an “identity-conscious approach to cultivate an awareness of the impact of students’ multiple dimensions of identity and a culture of career discernment.” It strives to help students of color, students demonstrating financial need, and first generation students prepare for life after college. 

The program revolves around three main components: Graduate School and Career Awareness, Financial Fitness, and Socially Responsible Leadership. The opportunities and experiences in the program are geared around these domains. The mentor coaching experience gives students dedicated support to explore career aspirations, personal values, and access resources to better understand their options. The half-day professional institute is held once per quarter with a different theme regarding professionalism. Career Exploration Activities (CEAs) are workshops offered throughout the year related to the PATHS curriculum.

PATHS also helps students develop a career portfolio — a comprehensive package intended to make students competitive in the marketplace. Pieces of the portfolio include career goals, an updated resume, cover letter, and more. Students also receive a bi-weekly PATHS e-newsletter that includes job openings, scholarships, and career-related events on campus.