SFA joins governor initiative

A program called 60x30 was launched this time last year, but not until recently has Stephen F. Austin State University been invited to play a significant role.

This month, last year 60x30TX was launched by state educators and business leaders as way to catch the state up educationally to the rest of the world. Just recently, SFA was invited to host a workshop on the initiative.

In attendance was Regent Nelda Blair. She came away impressed that the state is depending on East Texas, SFA particularly, in seeing that more people receive degrees.

"I believe that the Governor has stated that he really wants to concentrate on developing the economy here and that Stephen F. Austin, in particular, is truly a jewel in the crown of the economy here and can be real catalyst in increasing economic development here," Blair said.

SFA's newly developed Student Success Center complements the effort. It's there to help primarily first-year students maneuver and stick with the college experience.

"This is a cross-campus effort to really streamline issues that students are facing in their first year," said Dr. Dana Cooper, the student success center director. "Do they need tutoring in biology or is this a business office situation? Are they having problems with a roommate or do we need to look at perhaps a visit to the health clinic? It's our job to help them find the answers."

Student Success Coordinator Chelsea Heidbrink works with students one-on-one to eliminate obstacles that can get in the way of a college degree.

"A lot of times they just don't know what to ask and they could be embarrassed or they could literally have no idea they can ask these types of questions," Heidbrink said.

60x30 will be a difficult task as fewer than 40 percent of the targeted demographic has a degree or certificate of higher learning. The plan's authors say the goal is achievable. 

There are different components of SFA's Student Success Center. The tutoring services remain in place, but there's also a program for first generation college graduates. Networking allows them to share their unique challenges and pressures.

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