The Academic Enhancement Program at St. George’s University was selected to receive the 2015 Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Certificate of Merit Award by The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA). The NACADA Annual Awards Program honors people, programs, institutions, and innovations in technology resulting in improvement of academic advising and student-related support services.
The Academic Enhancement Program (AEP) team plans to fly to Las Vegas, NV, to attend NACADA’s 39th Annual Conference from October 4-7 where it will receive the Certificate of Merit Award in person. According to Dr. Sara Rabie, Director of Student Academic Support and Development and Associate Dean of Students at SGU, winning the award not only brings awareness to the entire SGU community of the AEP’s role but also lets prospective students know how invested SGU is in supporting its students.
“The transition into medical and veterinary medical school is challenging for most students; however, by being proactive, all available resources are leveraged to help students make a quick adjustment and allow them to reach their full academic potential,” she said. “We’ve seen the program work and we’re pleased that it has been recognized at this level for its innovation and quality.”
Initiated in 1997, the Academic Enhancement Program is a student support program administered by the Department of Educational Services (DES) at St. George’s for students in their first year in the Schools of Medicine or Veterinary Medicine. In the last four years, more than 2,300 medical students have been enrolled in the AEP at St. George’s with more than 90 percent of participating students recommending the program. Despite the large number of participants, the AEP prides itself on providing individual attention to each student through a network of administrators, faculty advisors, learning strategists, facilitators, and peer mentors.
“Connectedness is really important to success,” said Dr. Rabie. “When the number of students participating in the program grew, it prompted a change in the system. In collaboration with SGU’s Dean of Student’s Office, faculty advising has become one of the most significant components of the AEP. Now there are 8-10 students per academic advisor in addition to being assigned two ‘term buddies.’ We’ve found that being part of a smaller group is essential for achieving positive results.”
NACADA is a US-based international organization that represents more than 11,000 members from all 50 United States, Puerto Rico, Canada, and several other international countries. Members include faculty, advisors, counselors, administrators and students all working to promote and support quality academic advising in institutions of higher education to enhance the educational development of students. St. George’s University has twice won the Outstanding Institutional Advising Program Certificate of Merit Award before, first in 2003 for its SOM pre-medical program, becoming the first Caribbean institution outside of Puerto Rico to be recognized. In 2011, NACADA acknowledged SGU’s Supplemental Learning Program.
By Ray-Donna Peters