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First-Year Experience

 Peace and blessings!

I am so honored to have the privilege of coordinating your First Year Experience (FYE) and orienting your understanding of what it means to #be_HT.  Since I have been here, I have been diligently working on creating an educational experience that is enlightening, engaging, and empowering. 

The vision and purpose of the FYE program is to not only provide transitional support, but a transformative experience that creates meaningful connections between what the students are learning and what they are living.   It is my belief that when students become involved in effective educational empowerment programs, they enhance their educational experience, increase their academic and cultural capital, create a strong support network, and acquire valuable experiences that will assist them in their personal and professional endeavors. 

Education is ultimately the practice of freedom. All students deserve an engaging, enlightening, and empowering pedagogy. This has the ability to facilitate the relationship between knowledge in the classroom with who they are, and who they ultimately aspire to become.  I love serving our HT students and feel so blessed to be a part of the Huston-Tillotson Legacy. 

ma’at, Gina              

The Huston-Tillotson University First Year Experience program is a comprehensive educational support system designed to assist students in making a successful transition to HT.   The program includes: Ram Camp Orientation; Appreciative Academic Advisors; Peer Learning Consultant (PLC) Mentors; a Capstone Project with complimentary co-curricular programming; and Ram Radar, a student centered academic alert intervention support network.

Ram Camp Orientation:  Cultivating Pride, Purpose and Passion.

Orientation is the first step to achieve academic and personal success at HT! Our Ram Camp orientation is your initial integration into what it means to #be_HT.  This activity prepares you for a broad range of HT educational opportunities and services, and sets the tone for academic and social expectations, as well as student responsibilities.


FYE Capstone Project:  Educational Experiences that Enlighten, Engage and Empower!

The purpose of the Capstone Project is to create meaningful connections between what the students are learning and what they are living.  The objective is not simply to help students “master” the tools of reading, but empower them to read the world critically (McLaren, 2004).   The curriculum speaks to the student’s curiosity about topics that are often marginalized in the dominant curriculum in a voice that is both culturally relevant and critically responsive.   It moves beyond typical notions of education, to power discourse critiques, and the real purpose and promise of education- freedom. 


The students will critically reflect on how their educational experiences have affected their academic engagement and be challenged to pursue their education with a stronger sense of purpose.  Students will develop a self-empowerment strategy for pursuing their education with a stronger sense of purpose and learn effective strategies that will assist them in the process, such as: life management, critical literacy and reflection, growth mindset, AVID learning strategies, and more.  In addition, our students will also engage in a critical analysis of social and environment justice issues affecting the structure of opportunity that ultimately affect community empowerment, such as:  gentrification, employment/poverty, educational inequities, policing, environmental degradation, the digital divide, health and wellness, and more.

Curriculum inspired from the insight of provocative pedagogues, poets, artist and activist.

community learning

 UNIV 1102:  Community Service Learning

 The capstone project component connects theory to practice by applying what they have learned (fall) about the social and environmental issues affecting the social structure of opportunity and community empowerment,  to serving our community through community based learning projects.  Our students will engage in a community service learning project for 16 hours at a local non-profit organization,  create digital stories about what they have experienced, and share what they have learned at the #Be_HT  I <3 Community Summit. 

Appreciative Academic Advising

 All freshman students receive intrusive, intentional, and appreciative advising from the coordinating instructor of the FYE Capstone Project whom they spend at least 2 hours a week with in their freshman seminar UNIV1101 and UNIV1102 courses.  The academic adviser seeks to meet regularly to cultivate a strong relationship with each of their advisees wherein the student feels a valued and a shared responsibility of academic success.              

Peer Learning Consultantsacademic support

Every freshman has been assigned a Peer Learning Consultant/Mentor to guide them during their freshman year. The PLCs are prominent leaders on campus that have been trained in AVID Socratic tutoring methods and peer mentoring.  We are very proud to have them mentor our freshman students.

What PLCs do:

  • PLC mentors reach out to new freshman to welcome, notify and inform them of HT- FYE events before they step foot on campus.
  • The PLC mentors attend freshman seminar with their mentees and help guide students through Capstone Project.
  • They host weekly study hall sessions to tutor their mentees and provide individual learning consultations.
  • Develop and coordinate co-curricular events and activities for our freshmen students. 
  • Are basically, your big brother or sister on campus.

Ram Radar Early Alerts

Ram Radar Early Alert is a program of student centered intervention and follow-ups for students identified as having academic and/or personal difficulties. The program proactively provides feedback from instructors to the advisers (freshman seminar) and mentors (Peer Learning Consultants) to help students seek and receive student support services and other recommended actions that will help them succeed.

Co-curricular Programming

The First Year Experience program provides our HT first year students with purposeful and structured out-of-class educational experiences.  Co-curricular programming is designed to compliment and reinforce the declared learning goals of their capstone project and core curriculum courses.  These experiences are designed with the hope of exposing our students to authors, physicians, philosophers and … perspectives that will inspire our students to pursue their purpose with passion!