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New Faculty Academy: Teaching First Generation College Students

Friday, December 1, 2017
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM

Center for Teaching Excellence
Thomas Cooper Library, Room L511


College enrollment trends indicate that Pell Grant recipients, first-generation college students, and under-represented minorities, collectively called “new majority students”, will comprise the majority of American college students in the near future. Their success or lack of success will have a significant influence on our nation’s overall economic vitality and quality of life. These students often bring to campus experiences, insights, concerns, and predispositions that differ from those of students with a family history of college completion. The challenge for faculty is understanding these students and responding effectively.

The University of South Carolina’s Opportunity Scholars Program has a 46-year history that includes significant experience with first-generation and Pell-eligible students. Although the national profile for these students includes a less than 50% graduation rate, the Opportunity Scholars Program has graduation success that meets and often exceeds that for the general student population at the University of South Carolina. Drawing on the experiences of faculty with the Opportunity Scholars Program and related research literature, this presentation will involve a panel discussion on instructional practices that promote academic success for new majority students. The discussion will be structured around Astin’s framework for understanding college and its influence on students to identify how student inputs (academic preparation, family expectations, motivation, etc.), reactions to the campus environment, and expectations for outcomes can impact academic success.



Sandra J. Kelly
Vice Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies

Sandra Kelly oversees undergraduate general education requirements, the First-Year Reading Experience and provides guidance on undergraduate academic initiatives within and beyond the classroom. She is also responsible for oversight of the Center for Teaching Excellence, USC Connect, On Your Time, Continuing Education and Conferences and the University Advising Center. She also is the liaison for the Faculty Principals to the Office of the Provost.


Florencia Cornet
Faculty for Intercultural Inclusion and Diversity Learning 
Opportunity Scholars Program 
TRiO Programs

Florencia V. Cornet holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature with specialization in Comparative Black Gender Studies, Black Diaspora Studies, and Cultural Studies. She is a full-time faculty for Intercultural Inclusion and Diversity Learning in the Opportunity Scholars Program. She coordinates the Opportunity Scholars’ MIWIL Center, and the Opportunity Scholars’ Cultural Enrichment Component at the University of South Carolina. Cornet is also a faculty associate of Latin American Studies, and an affiliate faculty of African American Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies. Her areas of teaching and research specialization include Latin American, Caribbean and US Afro-Latino/a Cultures; Gender Studies in Global Perspective; and Studies in Global Blackness. Cornet’s primary teaching goal is to encourage ‘inter-cultural inclusion and diversity.’ She has been teaching first generation college students for eight years. Her coursework in the Opportunity Scholars Program is structured around critical rhetorics of race, ethnicity, gender, culture, identity, technology, and social change. Some of Cornet’s publications appeared in Dutch Crossing: Journal of Low Countries Studies; Palimpsest: A Journal on Women, Gender, and the Black International; Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro Latin American Biography; and Wagadu. She is currently a faculty fellow with the USC Institute for African American Research.

Paul L. Beasley
Former Director
USC TRIO Programs

Paul L. Beasley has just completed 29 years as TRIO director at the University of South Carolina. He devoted his entire career to working in college access programs, including TRIO positions with Emory University, the U.S. Department of Education and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. As one of the original participants in TRIO Upward Bound, Paul’s view of college access comes from many different perspectives and emphasizes an asset rather than a deficit model of education. He is a faculty member with a college access and success graduate certificate program offered by the Council for Opportunity in Education and Colorado State University. He also serves as a member of the advisory board for The Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education, which conducts and disseminates research and policy analysis to encourage policymakers, educators, and the public to improve educational opportunities and outcomes for low-income, first-generation, and disabled college students. 

Althea Counts
TRIO Programs

Althea Counts is the TRIO Director at the University of South Carolina. She has worked with first-generation college students for over 20 years. She earned her Masters in Student Personnel Services from the University of South Carolina and has dedicated her professional career to seeing first-generation students achieve the goal of a college degree. She has presented at state, regional and national conferences on topics related to best practices in serving first-generation college students.

Jen Crooks-Monastra
Part-Time Instructor
Department of Mathematics

Jen Crooks-Monastra has worked with the Opportunity Scholars Program at the University of South Carolina, teaching mathematics to first-generation college students for 12 years. She has 16 years of experience teaching mathematics, including high school mathematics, undergraduate mathematics service courses and undergraduate content courses for prospective mathematics teachers. As a PhD candidate, she is interested in improving student learning in higher education settings. Her research interests in the field of mathematics education include equity, active learning, and beliefs, attitudes and dispositions toward teaching and learning. She also works as a graduate assistant in the Research, Evaluation and Measurement Center at the University of South Carolina.

April Scott
Associate Director
Campus Mental Health Initiatives

April Scott currently serves as the Associate Director of Mental Health Initiatives at the University of South Carolina. This is her second year as a Psychology 101 instructor with Opportunity Scholar’s Program and she has also served in various administrative roles with TRIO at UofSC. She is also the co-facilitator of BlackSpace, a support group for Black students at UofSC. Scott has had experiences across multiple settings to include: a substance abuse outpatient facility for adults and adolescents, an in-home adoption therapy program, a community mental health center for children and families, a Veterans Affairs hospital, a group practice and a university counseling center. She also has over 5 years of instructional experience working special populations in higher education, such as student-athletes and first-generation college students.

James Winfield
Assistant Director for Faculty Development
University 101

James Winfield serves as the Assistant Director for Faculty Development for University 101 Programs at the University of South Carolina. James provides continuous training and support for over 200 University 101 instructors; this includes the Teaching Experience Workshops, syllabus preparation and the annual Building Connections Conference. James has taught multiple sections of the first-year seminar course: UNIV 101, The Student in the University (General and TRIO specific) and EDLP 520, The Teacher as Manager. Winfield previously worked in the Student Success Center with early-alert academic initiatives and in TRIO Programs as a pre-college counselor for both Upward Bound and a 21st Century Learning Center in Richland School District One. 



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