Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI's) in Practice: Defining "Servingness" at HSI's (Mentorship and Cultural Belonging for First Generation and Transfer Students at an HSI in South Texas at HSI's)

Rodriguez & Gonzales / Information Age Publishing / March 2020

The authors describe a mentoring program that enhances the cultural belonging of first generation and transfer students a an HSI in south Texas, while ultimately enhancing their persistence. Supported by a U.S. Department of Education Title V collaborative grant, UTSA established the First Generation and Transfer Student Center (FGTSC), which houses the First to Go and Graduate (F2G&G) and Roadrunner Transition Experience (RTE) initiatives. Both initiatives support and promote mentoring programs that provide students with a sense of cultural belonging through undergraduate mentors who have an expertise in on-campus resources and are equipped to interact with their mentees in a variety of contexts and spaces. An additional component of cultural belonging comes through designated faculty coaches that, through their own lived experiences, provide guidance to students on how they can connect their identities and realities to higher education goals. The data collected for this chapter come from surveys disseminated to peer mentors and mentees at the end of the semester. Findings suggest that mentees participating in these two initiatives are being retained at higher rates than non-participants at UTSA. As such, the authors provide a model of mentoring that can enhance servingness at HSIs and provide recommendations for practitioners at other HSIs who are interested in serving students through culturally enhancing experiences.