At a recent graduate recognition luncheon for the Reading, Advising, & Mentoring Program, Garland Dyer shared what it meant to him to be a part of a program where the staff and students really cared about his success.
“Throughout my time here at Cal Poly Pomona, having studied psychology and sociology, the most I learned about mentoring and its importance was through RAMP,” said Dyer, who graduated in spring 2019 with a degree in psychology. “RAMP has always been there to support me and gave me a safe and quiet place to learn, study, and most importantly, be myself.”
Dyer and 17 other students are graduating this year as both Cal Poly Pomona and RAMP students. Over the past 30 years, RAMP staff have worked with thousands of students on reading tutorials; supplemental academic, career, and personal advising; and peer mentoring.
RAMP is a TRIO Student Support Services project with the mission of increasing the retention and graduation rates of low-income, first-generation college students, and students with disabilities. The program supports about 250 students at any given time.
“RAMP is a transformational experience for the students it serves,” said Terri Gomez, associate vice president for student success. “It gives them a sense of community and a sense of belonging.”
The RAMP staff’s commitment has paid off in its most recent round of federal reporting. The U.S. Department of Education mandates that institutions who host this TRIO program meet specific objectives when they propose grant funding. Cal Poly Pomona set its 2017-18 goals to have at least 90 percent of the participating students persist from their first to second year; 90 percent reach good academic standing; and at least 60 percent of RAMP students graduate within 6 years.
RAMP exceeded those goals. Of the students RAMP served in the 2017-18 academic year, 91 percent returned to Cal Poly Pomona in 2018-19. Ninety-six percent of the students were in good academic standing with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better. For students who joined RAMP in 2012-13, 85 percent of them graduated within six years. This success provides “prior experience points,” which factor in an upcoming TRIO SSS competition for future funding.
“We set ambitious, but attainable goals for our reporting,” said RAMP Director Laura Ayon. “We are already doing great work, but we thought about how we could expand our initiatives and offer opportunities that we know will be engaging.”
To meet these goals, RAMP provides a variety of opportunities for students to thrive in the classroom and create campus connections. RAMPers have access to both one-on-one and group peer mentoring and tutoring for reading comprehension skills. They also go to workshops and panels throughout the academic year on stress and time management, research and citations, internship and graduate school applications, and other co-curricular experiences. If they wholly engage in the program and are already receiving a federal Pell grant, they are eligible to apply for a special supplemental grant.
In addition to Ayon, the program has two professional advisors – Denise Cedillos and Dustin Johnson – and administrative assistant Rachel Dominguez to help RAMPers throughout their time at CPP. Peer tutors are also a major part of the team.
“The hybrid of peer and professional coaching we have in RAMP is designed to inspire and motivate the students, as the staff serve as a model of who you can be after graduation,” Ayon said. “The tutors are really the front line for RAMP – when they interact with their peers, it’s magic.”
To learn more about RAMP and eligibility requirements, visit the RAMP website.