The Student Support Services (SSS) program, a federal TRIO program funded by the United States Department of Education, has been enhancing the student experience at WVU Tech since 1971, making it one of the oldest programs of its kind in the nation.
Known for their tutoring services, professional and academic development programs, printing services and computer lab, the program is dedicated to helping students navigate college life in and out of the classroom.
Student Support Services Director Scott Robertson says the program is working, and the statistics back him up.
Each year, the program provides an annual performance report to the US Department of Education detailing program success factors such as graduation rates and academic standing. When the current operating grant was approved in 2009, the program was required to maintain a persistence rate (year-to-year program retention) of 65%, a 40% graduation rate for students who entered college in the 2008-2009 academic year, and a 65% rate of students in good academic standing.
In this year’s report, the program shared information on more than 500 program students from the last six years, coming in well above those thresholds and boasting a 46% graduation rate, a 90% program persistence rate and an impressive 92% of program students in good academic standing.
“Those are pretty phenomenal numbers for our program and they show that Student Support Services is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. It’s helping students,” said Robertson.
Robertson, a program alumnus himself, attributes much of this success to SSS’s robust tutoring and advising efforts. Students in the program meet with staff counselors once a month to make sure that things are going well, and students have access to a wide range of subjects in which to receive tutoring.
“If it weren’t for the program, I wouldn’t have the college degrees I have now. So, for me personally, it’s very important that we offer these services. We’ve seen students who have so much potential and we’re here to help pull that potential out in order to see that they are successful not just within our program, but also at WVU Tech.”
Athletic Coaching Education major Alex Moore has been in the program for two semesters. He said the program gives members an invaluable boost.
“The program gives first-generation students and those who statistically may not be destined for college a leg up. It helps students strive for excellence in academics. It helps them financially and, in some cases, it just gives them someone to talk to about whatever they need,” he said.
Beyond academics, the program offers a number of cultural enrichment and professional development opportunities.
On February 4, the program took 26 students to Charleston for a night of exposure to Asian culture and cuisine. The group dined at a Japanese Hibachi-style restaurant and attended Shen Yu a live performance portraying traditional Chinese culture through music and dance at the Clay Center for the arts.
“Our cultural enrichment programs are an important part of our holistic approach to student success,” said Robertson. “Seeing Shen Yu was an experience these students will not soon forget. These events allow students to realize that a degree affords them the opportunity to continue doing those things down the road.”
In addition to cultural activities, the program will host a number of professional/personal development seminars this spring, including workshops on time management and maintaining healthy relationships, as well as a financial aid “boot camp” where students who answer questions incorrectly will have to perform physical exercises.
Robertson said these activities and the SSS’s open-door policy creates a space where program students can support one another as they work toward common goals.
“We’ve seen a lot of friendships being built, even with students who are commuters,” he said. “We’re creating a community within the program and within our office. We have people from all over the world and all walks of life. It’s great to see these students interacting and helping one another.”
Students interested in the program may join at any point. Applicants will need to complete an application, answer questions about why they want to be in the program and interview with program staff. Two-thirds of program participants must be first-generation, meaning neither parent has a four-year college degree, and must demonstrate financial need. The other one-third can be first-generation only, low-income only, or have a disability.
The program also provides scholarships for qualifying students, and awarded 19 scholarships totaling more than $26,000 for the spring 2015 semester alone.
Find out more on the Student Support Services website. To apply to the program or to become a tutor (tutors are not required to be in the program), visit Old Main Room 309. Students may also download the program application here.
In last week’s Charleston Gazette, sports editor/columnist Mitch Vingle shared some good news about WVU Tech student-athletes and how they stepped up to help out during the recent train derailment.
The following is an excerpt from the Thursday, February 19, 2015 column.
”...Allow me to give you a ‘good’ news item. I’ll even count them as three good news items.
They are Arik McGinnis, Craig Johnson and Jordon Mounts.
You’ve no doubt read about Monday’s trail derailment in Fayette County that resulted in fire and an explosion. Well, McGinnis, Johnson and Mounts were among the first responders as volunteers for the Montgomery Fire Department. They also happen to play baseball for WVU Tech.
‘I’m proud of all three guys for stepping forward and their commitment to helping with the crisis,’ said Tech baseball coach Lawrence Nesselrodt.
McGinnis is a sophomore pitcher from Valley, while Johnson is a senior pitcher from Chapmanville and Mounts is a sophomore pitcher from Tug Valley.
‘I’m certainly proud of them for stepping up,’ Nesselrodt said.
As well he should.”
Read the full story on the Charleston Gazette.
Charleston Daily Mail Editorial – February 19, 2015
No time is a good time for a fiery train derailment. But one could hardly imagine a worse week than this one, with its snow and frigid temperatures.
The CSX train that derailed Monday in Fayette County brought with it a host of unexpected challenges for residents, from burning buildings to water warnings. And the brutal weather conditions made all of it more difficult.
But emergency responders and relief organizations were undeterred, stepping in immediately to provide help.
The Red Cross acted with its customary speed and efficiency, providing shelter for residents who were forced out of their homes overnight by the burning tank cars. CSX is now providing hotel rooms for displaced residents.
Multiple organizations provided bottled water, including J&J Trucking, a local company that diverted a tractor-trailer that was already filled with pallets of water.
Fraternity members from West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Montgomery volunteered to help distribute water to members of the community while the safety of the water supply remained uncertain.
Lawmakers, including U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins, Sen. Joe Manchin and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, and their staffs also reacted quickly to communicate with constituents and keep the public informed.
And most importantly, emergency first responders many of them volunteers have been working tirelessly since Monday to control fires, direct traffic and get residents the help they need.
Throughout the crisis, those affected have been able to dial 211 a 24-hour toll-free hotline for referrals to places where they can receive shelter, water and other support.
Residents of Fayette County could hardly have predicted on Monday that the weather would among be the least of this week’s worries.
But thanks to the exemplary work of emergency personnel and dedicated volunteers, those whose lives were disrupted by the train derailment have remained safe amidst the cold and confusion.
It’s something to be thankful for as we look forward to warmer and less eventful days ahead.
Read the original editorial from the Charleston Daily Mail.
WVU Tech to keep campus closed until Monday
Samuel Speciale, Charleston Daily Mail
Water services in Montgomery were fully restored Wednesday afternoon, but West Virginia University Institute of Technology officials have decided not to reopen campus to students until a boil advisory is lifted.
The campus has been closed since 5 p.m. Tuesday when school officials canceled classes for the week in response to the nearby derailment of a CSX train carrying Bakken crude oil.
The small campus is tucked into the Montgomery hillside just miles away from Mount Carbon, Fayette County where more than 20 derailed tankers leaked oil into the Kanawha River near the city’s water intakes.
While initial water tests have come back clear of contaminates and city residents have been given the OK to use water, a school spokeswoman said most students do not have a way to boil water for safe consumption in their dorm rooms.
“For that reason, we will keep the campus closed until this weekend,” said university spokeswoman Jennifer Wood.
Because there is limited access to water on campus, university officials also chose to move students to a residence hall at the former Mountain State University campus in Beckley.
Wood said CSX helped the school charter buses to transport 180 students. Others, who live close enough to drive home, went back to their families. About 1,200 students attend WVU Tech.
The school initially arranged to also use beds in the Beckley Marriott Courtyard as overflow, but Wood said the space in the residence hall ended up being sufficient.
University officials made the call to shut down campus hours before West Virginia American Water reopened its intakes in Montgomery. Wood said school officials decided to move forward with the evacuation because they knew the boil advisory was coming and transportation was already organized. She also said there is work that needs done in the dining halls to make sure water and ice are safe.
While the situation isn’t ideal, Wood said the WVU Tech community was quick to respond and that students and teachers have been understanding and patient.
They’ve also been cooperative with the city, which, as of Tuesday, was overrun with state and federal agencies moving in heavy machinery to being cleaning up the train wreckage.
Because the derailment directly affected the WVU Tech community, students were quick to help distribute bottled water and other aid Tuesday when water was still shut off throughout the area.
Members of the school’s [Phi] Kappa Tau fraternity helped unload and distribute cases of bottled water at Montgomery’s city hall. Wood said other students volunteered their services to the fire department.
“You’ll see a lot of that happening,” Wood said. “I don’t know all the details of who was doing what, but its common for our student body to pitch in and help the community in times of need. It’s part of the campus culture.”
Students will be instructed when they can return to campus, and classes will resume Monday at 8 a.m.
See the original story from the Charleston Daily Mail.
When classes were cancelled for the remainder of the week due to an off-campus incident and water outage, students were given the option to be transported to Beckley for residential accommodations or go home for the remainder of the week. Students who opted to go home found it difficult to dig their cars out from the many inches of snow that fell in this week’s winter storm. That is, until they received help from three dedicated WVU Tech staff members – Roger Koch, Roy Ford and Keith Cottrell.
WOWK’s Nicky Walters reports, ”...[No] water wasn’t the only problem, students were also dealing with the weather as they were trying to leave town.
To the average Joe, these three guys might not look like angels. but try looking at them through the eyes of a stranded college student and you might see them a little differently…One by one, Roger, Keith and Roy shoveled and shoved, helping nervous students get out of a tough spot.”
Check out the full video on WOWK TV 13.
(2/20/15 2:00 p.m.)
Campus is closed on Friday, February 20, 2015 and will officially reopen to employees on Friday, February 20, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. Classes have been cancelled through February 20, 2015 and are scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. on Monday, February 23, 2015.
(2/19/15 12:15 p.m.)
Campus will be closed on Friday, February 20, 2015 and only essential employees are to report. Classes are scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. on Monday, February 23, 2015.
(2/18/15 1:15 p.m.)
Campus will be closed on Thursday, February 19, 2015 and only essential employees are to report.
Classes at WVU Tech have been cancelled through February 20, 2015 and are scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. on Monday, February 23, 2015.
(2/17/15 10:40 p.m.)
Due to ongoing water issues in the Montgomery area, campus will be closed on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 and only essential employees are to report.
Classes at WVU Tech have been cancelled through February 20, 2015 and are scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. on Monday, February 23, 2015.
(2/17/15 12:00 p.m.)
Since water service on campus is not expected to be restored for another 48 to 72 hours, classes will be cancelled for the remainder of this week. We plan to resume classes on Monday, February 23, 2015 at 8:00 a.m.
With cooperation from CSX, Mountain State University and the University of Charleston, residential accommodations will be provided to WVU Tech on-campus students in residence hall facilities in Beckley and the Beckley Marriott Courtyard will be used as overflow space, if necessary. Buses will be on campus early this afternoon to transport students to Beckley. Arrangements for food service have been made and University Police and Residence Life staff will be on site. WVU Tech residence hall policies and the student code of conduct will be in effect on the Beckley campus.
Residence halls on the Montgomery campus will close today at 5:00 p.m. and will remain closed until after water service on campus is restored.
(2/16/15 4:00 p.m.)
Off-campus Incident Closes Montgomery Water Intake, Calls for Conservation of Water
This afternoon, a train derailment occurred in the Mount Carbon area. This incident does not currently pose a threat to those on campus.
As a result of this incident, the water treatment facility in Montgomery has closed its intake and we will need to conserve water on campus. All non-essential use of water is prohibited. The Bears Den will remain open to distribute water to all students, regardless of whether or not they have a meal plan.
Due to these concerns and the current weather conditions, campus will be closed on Tuesday, February 17, 2015.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, we are celebrating our alumni who were hit by Cupid’s arrow at WVU Tech. From an introduction at a Greek social to a proposal on the Tech Mall and a wedding in Jamaica, WVU Tech will always hold a special place in the hearts of our alumni who began their love story on campus.
Joe Cline, ‘02 and Tamara Minturn Cline, ‘04
Joe and Tamara were introduced by mutual friends at the Sigma Pi fraternity house in the fall of 2002. Tamara remembers, “We stood outside and talked for 30 minutes in the freezing cold on the sidewalk. It was like we had known each other forever. Our first date was on December 14, 2002 and the rest is history.” Joe and Tamara were married on July 24, 2004 and had their first child, Holt, in July of 2013.
Josh Cook, ‘12 and Sydney Loftis Cook
Josh knew the moment he met Sydney that there was something special about her. When deciding on a location to ask her to marry him on August 9, 2014, Montgomery was a no brainer. Josh said, “WVU Tech means as much to me as anywhere on this earth. I love this school and that lady. Both of them have made me a much better man.” Josh and Sydney married on January 3, 2015.
Jerome Maestro Wauchope, ‘11 and Hannah Jaskot Wauchope, ‘12
While at WVU Tech, Jerome and Hannah both excelled as soccer players, and it is their mutual love of the sport that brought them together. The couple traveled to Jamaica in July 2014, where they were married surrounded by family and many of their WVU Tech friends. The couple welcomed their first daughter earlier this month.
We would love to hear your WVU Tech love story. Share it with us at Tech-Alumni@mail.wvu.edu
On Tuesday, February 3, a dozen student and staff volunteers from the WVU Tech Association for Women Engineers, Scientists, Or Mathematicians Empowerment (AWESOME) joined more than 200 middle and high school girls in the state’s Capitol Complex for the inaugural Girls’ Day at the Legislature.
Sponsored by the West Virginia Women’s Commission and the Girl Scouts of the Black Diamond, the first-ever Girls’ Day was organized to allow young women from around the state to meet with legislators, speak in a youth forum, hear from guest speakers and sit in on a live legislative session. The event brought in students from 18 West Virginia counties.
AWESOME, a group dedicated to supporting students in STEM fields and sharing STEM science with girls in grades K-12, set up a series of activity stations in support of the event. Participants built towers using marshmallows and spaghetti noodles, crafted keychains that spelled out their names in hexadecimal computer code, learned about automobile systems and explored the principles behind chromatography as they tie-dyed AWESOME t-shirts.
Volunteers also shared their experiences studying STEM disciplines at the college level and encouraged attendees to chase those careers that interest them, no matter the field.
“AWESOME was excited and honored to participate in the Girls’ Day at the Legislature,” said Dr. Stephany Coffman-Wolph, AWESOME advisor and professor in the WVU Tech department of Computer Science and Information Systems.
“One of our primary goals is to help recruit and retain future generations of women into the STEM fields. Currently, the number of women in STEM is extremely low and, through events like this, we hope to assist young women in discovering the wonderful world of STEM and the possibilities for them within these fields.”
Libby Salyers, a language arts teacher at Logan Middle School, brought 23 students to the event, where they heard from students their age in the youth forum, toured a C-SPAN media bus and visited with AWESOME. She said the trip was a hit.
“Some students in our group had never been to Charleston before,” she said. “We get to bring these students here to experience a place that many of us take for granted. It’s an important opportunity for them to see other young ladies who share their interests. If they like science, math and technology, they’re not alone. If they’re interested in what our leadership has to say, they’re not alone.”
AWESOME will be continuing the group’s momentum throughout the month, where they will feature a guest speaker from the Ford Motor Company on Thursday, February 12, and will participate in Discover Engineering Day at the Clay Center on Saturday, February 21, to kick off National Engineers Week.
Check out photos from Girls’ Day on Flickr.
Nearly 30 WVU Tech students volunteered their time and talents to three different local service projects during the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on Monday, January 19.
In Charleston, a group of students spent the day preparing and serving food at Manna Meal, which offers free meals to the area’s hungry seven days a week. Volunteers spent the day cleaning and setting up dining areas, prepping and serving food, and spending time with those who stopped by for a meal.
WVU Tech Electrical Engineering student Felipe Sozinho was among the group.
“I have been wanting to get involved with community service activities for a long time now and this was a good opportunity to get started. Events like this help us grow as a person. They allows us to realize that it is a tough world out there, so we need to be grateful for the opportunities we have and help others whenever we can,” he said.
“Serving others allows you to see how other people live and what affects them,” said Emily Sands, WVU Tech’s Director of Student Activities. “It helps us realize that, while we may take things like eating three meals a day for granted, there are many people that are thankful to receive just one hot meal a day.”
A second group of students headed to the Kanawha-Charleston Humane Association animal shelter in Charleston, where they helped to re-organize storage areas and spent time walking and playing with the shelters dogs and cats.
When accounting major Hunter Moles heard about the project, he knew it would be a great way to give back.
“I signed up to help the shelter because I love animals and know how hard the shelter works. Volunteers and donations are what keep it running,” he said. “Students should get involved as much as possible. It is a great thing to do not only for yourself, but for those organizations that need help.”
In Montgomery, WVU Tech students teamed up with students from BridgeValley Community and Technical College and volunteers from the Morris Creek Watershed Association. The three organizations have been working together to design and test methods to treat acid mine drainage and improve water quality in the nearby Morris Creek watershed.
Volunteers removed litter along the creek, toured MCWA’s ongoing projects to improve stream quality and helped to add limestone to mitigation ponds and Nelson tanks, which help to neutralize acid mine drainage in the stream. The group also cleaned the MCWA’s headquarters and installed a wood-burning stove so that the building could keep operating in the cold winter months.
Biology professor Dr. Deborah Beutler said that the day’s activities served as a learning opportunity for students, some of whom were unfamiliar with creek and its history.
“When they come to the watershed, they learn about the threats to the creek, how those threats are being addressed and how the creek has improved because of the efforts of the MCWA,” she said. “But most importantly, they learn that concerned citizens can make a difference.”
Sands said that service opportunities like these are an extension of WVU Tech’s goal to create well-rounded, civic-minded graduates.
“WVU Tech offers these opportunities to our students to help them understand that the world is a large place made up of a lot of different kinds of people, and that we need to help those in need. Our students are attending college to improve their lives and society. This is just a reminder that people and animals from all different walks of life need help.”
For students interested in volunteer opportunities, West Virginia’s Commission for National and Community Service, Volunteer West Virginia, is a good starting point. WVU Tech also sponsors an alternative Spring Break each year that pairs student volunteers up with Habitat for Humanity to work on a local project.
The WVU Tech Student Activities Board will host comedian Adam Grabowski on Thursday, January 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the WVU Tech Center Ballroom.
Best known for his humorous charts and Disney-themed jokes, the 27-year-old comedian has headlined more than 400 college shows in 42 states and often gives small gifts such as slap bracelets and Fruit Gushers candy to his audience.
Adam’s humorous observations on life and animated style have earned him a number of accolades on the college comedy circuit. Campus Activities Magazine has ranked him #1 among comedians four years running and he was named comic of the year in 2013. In 2014, the magazine selected Adam as runner-up for Entertainer of the Year.
Thursday’s visit will mark the comedian’s second trip to Montgomery. He first performed at WVU Tech in the fall of 2011. Visit Adam’s website for more information and to see performance clips.
Adam’s visit is one of the many SAB activities planned for the semester, including the current SAB skiing trip season, which runs every Wednesday in January and on February 5 and 12. Keep an eye on the WVU Tech Calendar for more upcoming events.