Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators
April 9-12, 2017, several members of our team attended the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institution Educators (AHSIE) Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. This annual Best Practices Conference expresses the purpose and the mission of the Alliance of HSI Educators. AHSIE exists to support HSIs in their quest to provide quality, relevant educational opportunities to their students and communities. AHSIEs activities are intended to benefit HSI practitioners/educators through cooperation, networking, partnerships, information-sharing, technical assistance and collaboration.
Our very own Agustin Rivera, Title V/HSI Grant Student Support Services Officer and Fabiola Beas, Lead Peer Navigator, presented on our amazing CRUISE (Creating Rich Unique Intellectual Experiences) and Peer Navigator Programs and the success that we have been experiencing with our peer to peer connections. They were able to present data and examples to demonstrate the effectiveness of the monthly peer contacts, the importance of a formal space for students, as well as staff development techniques to establish and maintain a strong peer mentorship program.
I was able to catch up with our Fabulous Fabiola to hear about her experience. She is SDSU bound, majoring in Psychology with the desire and determination to become a community college counselor. See what she had to say:
Q: What was the first day at the conference like?
A: The first day at the conference was the student leadership institute. I was able to meet several student leaders from different campuses all over the country and Puerto Rico. I became friends with a lady from CSU San Marcos, and we were the only student leaders from the San Diego area. There was a lot of team building that emphasized team leadership, and I’m planning to bring many of them to our Peer Navigator meetings.
Q: What else did you do/take away from your experience?
A: I attended a lot of workshops and learned a lot. Many other campuses had peer mentors, tutors, or student coordinators of some form. CSU Channel Island actually incorporated classes within their mentor program, using peer mentors to teach the courses and prepare the syllabus. They used this process called syllabus mapping, and I brought back the instructions to share with the peer navigators. They also used alternating office hours, where they set out a schedule for their mentors. For example, they were assigned office hours, which might include housekeeping or organizing, so that they always have something to do. I thought that dividing office hours into different segments like this would be more efficient; making sure that even the little tasks get done. It was like a more structured way of scheduling. Another thing was a workshop that talked about how to be supportive of undocumented students. The lady had little signs that said, “Welcome Dreamers!” I really liked that and even brought some back to hang up in the AVANZA Engagement Center.
Q: What was this presentation you gave?
A: I gave a brief presentation with Agustin about our CRUISE and Peer Navigator Programs. Agustin presented about how to establish a peer mentoring program on campus, and what went into training Peer Navigators. Then I was able to present on the responsibilities of a Peer Navigator and what it means and entails to be a Lead Peer Navigator. We received a very positive response from the presentation, and many people asked further questions for more details when it was over. There was a lot of interest to start similar programs on various campuses.
Q: What workshop stood out the most to you?
A: I really had a great appreciation for the CSU Channel Island program. It was really similar to our Peer Navigator Program; however, there were a couple of things that really stood out to me that I would like to adopt for the peer navigators. One such thing was a monthly outing that took the place of one of their monthly meetings. It was just an opportunity for the mentors to get some down time together away from the stress of work and school where there are so many demands for their time and attention. This would be something really informal and fun, but where the mentors could relax, connect, and rejuvenate. I believe that implementing something like this could be really beneficial for our team of Navigators.
Q: How did it feel to be the first student to attend an AHSIE Conference?
A: It felt like an achievement to be the first student. First formal and professional conference, more mature, improve leadership and professional skills.
Q: What pointers would you give to a future Lead Peer Navigator preparing to attend a conference like this?
A: I would encourage students (leaders or not) to attend the student leadership workshops, be open and friendly to meet new people and network. Also, allow yourself to be open to new people and experiences. Stay engaged and involved on campus so that you can meet other people (faculty/staff/Dean’s), you never know when a new opportunity will arise.
Q: Anything else you would like to share?
A: I had a lot of fun!!!!
Ultimately, the conference was a hit for all of our team members who attended. They were able to network with other campuses, share and gain ideas and effective practices, in addition to participating in a wide variety of workshops and discussions. We hope that you will stay tuned as we continue to roll out new ideas and innovations to engage our students and shape them into the leaders they are meant to be.