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Loyola awarded additional funding for pre-orientation program to ease the transition of select students

| By Nick Alexopulos
Ignatius Scholars Program
Students in Loyola's Ignatius Scholars Program at the Akbar restaurant in Baltimore.

Loyola University Maryland has been awarded a $53,221 Maryland College Access Challenge Grant from the Maryland Higher Education Commission to continue a program for a select group of students that strengthens their academic skills and eases their adjustment to a collegiate environment.

The Ignatius Scholars Program, which launched in August 2013, consists of a 19-day summer orientation session and continues with regular tutoring and peer mentoring opportunities throughout students’ first year at Loyola. Last year, 30 incoming, first-year students were accepted to the program. Participants are first-generation college students, students of color, and/or students from families who demonstrate significant financial need. These underrepresented groups are more likely to face unique transition challenges.

“We know these students are going to succeed, but we want them to excel,” said Michelle Cheatem, associate dean of students and project director of the grant. “Our mission as a Jesuit institution is to provide a living learning experience that enriches the whole person, and this grant allows us to continue offering something uniquely valuable to excellent students who may need early support to realize their full ambitions and potential.”

Differences in academic preparation, access to enrichment courses (GT and AP), access to financial resources, and existence of role models who completed college can impact a student’s college experience. The Ignatius Scholars Program addresses those issues through experiential seminars focused on enhancing students’ skills in reading, writing, and mathematics, along with test-taking, studying, note-taking, and time-management. The program offers additional workshops to expose students to campus resources, peers, and the surrounding Baltimore area. Upon completion, students transition into one of Loyola’s existing pre-fall orientation programs.

The program is run by ALANA Services and Academic Advising and Support Center, along with a leadership team consisting of members from various divisions in academic affairs and student development. Loyola developed and launched the program last year after the University was awarded an initial $63,557 College Access grant from MHEC.

“Repeat funding speaks volumes about its success,” said Cheatem.

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