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Retention Numbers Grow for Freshmen in Novel Mentoring Program—R.I.S.E. Network

Monday, September 12, 2016

A growing number of undergraduates from traditionally underrepresented groups are flourishing during their freshman year and beyond, ultimately completing their St. John’s education thanks to a unique mentoring program implemented by the Division of Student Affairs.

The R.I.S.E. Network (“Reach, Inspire, Succeed, Empower”) was launched in 2013 with the mission of maximizing the potential of African American and Latino students at the University. The program fosters an environment that provides comprehensive support, guidance, and positive peer influence.

“We’re so proud of the R.I.S.E. Network leaders and scholars and the phenomenal results they’ve worked to attain,” said Kathryn T. Hutchinson, Ph.D., Vice President for Student Affairs. “The special community that R.I.S.E. has developed yields strong connections, skills development, and opportunities for scholars to enhance their overall academic career at St. John’s University.”

Since the program’s inception, the University has seen a steady rise in retention rates for students who participate.

“The R.I.S.E. program has been very successful because it provides the scholars with opportunities to develop positive relationships with administrators and faculty,” said James Salnave, Ed.D. ’98C, ’02GEd, Associate Dean for Student Development. “These are the crucial relationships that enhance their overall experience at St. John’s University.”

Students are invited to the program the summer before their first semester at St. John’s. In addition to regular meetings with their student-leaders, many of whom are former participants who now serve as mentors, current scholars also get together with key faculty members who help them address academic concerns.

“We’re there as a support system,” said Miguel Vasquez ’17C, a student coordinator with R.I.S.E. “We help them get acclimated to college life and make sure their first year goes as smoothly as possible, because we want them to return to campus as sophomores.” A resident of Middle Village, NY, and an English major, Mr. Vasquez served as a R.I.S.E. leader during his junior year. 

“R.I.S.E. is largely responsible for my returning to St. John’s after my freshman year,” said Clement Anozie ’17C, a former R.I.S.E. scholar from Houston, TX. The biology major volunteered as a R.I.S.E. leader during his sophomore and junior years and is now a student coordinator with the program. “I had a really good mentor who helped me find my place on campus and develop my identity,” he said.

Now a senior, Mr. Anozie is treasurer of Student Government, Inc.  Over the summer, he completed a fellowship at Weill Cornell Medical College and is applying to several medical schools. 

“I became a mentor with the program because I wanted to give back,” he said. Approximately 50 percent of R.I.S.E. Network’s student-leaders are former scholars.
“I learned a lot about myself when I was a participant, and I wanted to help others have the same experience.” 

Due to the success of R.I.S.E., the University is expanding the program for the 2016–17 academic year by including an even greater number of freshmen and piloting a new sophomore cohort.