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Student Support

On April 10, Eastern announced its participation in a new national initiative called the LEAP Employer-Educator Compact. The compact was developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and by employers working with AAC&U to ensure that today's students are well prepared for economic, civic and global challenges.Participating campuses and employers will work together through 2014 to showcase employer support for the aims and outcomes of a broad liberal education and to show how higher education is helping students connect college learning with their roles as professionals, citizens and members of the global community.

As part of the compact initiative, Eastern is partnering with Webster Bank, the Mohegan Tribal Council, Savings Institute Bank and Trust, Blum-Shapiro, Farmington Bank and the Willimantic Waste Company to underscore the economic value of liberal education and to provide students with more hands-on learning opportunities to connect their campus learning with real-world contexts and problems.

On Oct. 2, 2012, Eastern joined more than 460 other public colleges and universities across America in signing the "Commitment to the Future" which calls for increasing the number of undergraduate baccalaureate degrees by 3.8 million between now and 2025. The goal of the campaign is to increase the percentage of American adults with college degrees to 60 percent of the nation's population.

The School of Continuing Education has created a "Reverse Internship" program, offering help to adult students who want to gain college credits towards their degree for skills and knowledge they have learned at work and can validate. The program, titled "The Reverse Internship: Converting Banked Applied Learning into College Credit," was formed with the help of a $25,000 grant from the American Council on Education (ACE). The program offers adult students a way to turn their previous work experience into college credits, equivalent to a standard internship.

With the help of faculty, adult students take an online, interactive, reverse internship tutorial which requires them to reflect upon their experiences, identify what they have learned in various categories and then document how they acquired that learning.

From June 2-July 12, 2013, Eastern served as host to a six-week summer health sciences research program involving six other Connecticut colleges. The Health and Life Sciences Undergraduate Research Program Initiative gave students an opportunity to gain vital knowledge and experience with basic laboratory skills, while exposing participants to job opportunities that will position them competitively in Connecticut's health and life sciences job market.

Students worked directly with Eastern faculty who teach and work in the modern life science fields, including biochemistry, organic chemistry, biotechnology, biology, health education and environmental earth sciences. Each week focused on an area of modern scientific inquiry, allowing students to gain scientific skills and knowledge. Specific areas of study included critical scientific skills and basic concepts of investigation; molecular identification of nervous system progenitors; and physical activity epidemiology and health, to name a few.

Students also received training on how to develop a résumé; be involved in mock job interviews; visit Connecticut health and life sciences industry and graduate school facilities; and interact with graduate and medical school students in the state to learn how to prepare for a job within these fields.

The summer research program was the result of a three-year Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Careers Training grant (TAACCCT) from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration that is being managed by Norwalk Community College.

Participating colleges included Norwalk Community College, Gateway Community College, Capital Community College, Middlesex Community College, Manchester Community College and Charter Oak College.

In September 2012, The Education Trust, a national education advocacy group, announced that Eastern ranked number one in a national study of the improvement of six-year graduation rates of Hispanic students among public universities and colleges, according to their report, "Advancing to completion: increasing degree attainment by improving graduation rates and closing gaps for Hispanic students."

For the class of full-time, first-time students entering in fall 1998, the six-year graduation rate was barely 20 percent for Hispanic students at Eastern. However, for those Hispanic students entering in 2004, the proportion who had graduated by 2010 was 57.8 percent, the largest improvement among the 228 public institutions in The Education Trust study.

Hispanic and other Eastern students have benefited from funding from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and a U.S. Department of Education Title III grant that has helped the University create and improve its Student Success Model. The model features additional advising staff; a revised, four-tiered advising system; faculty mentors; and a one-stop Academic Success Center that provides tutoring, math and writing instructional support for more than 2,000 student visitors a year.

Thomas Broffman, assistant professor of social work, and five students in the Social Work program coordinated a gambling awareness campaign during the spring semester to educate the Eastern community on the warning signs and issues of problem gambling. The campaign was sponsored by the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling. It consisted of several events, including a discussion by Joe Turbessi, author of "Into the Muck," on how his experiences with gambling led to problems in his social and financial life, and how he eventually recovered.