The SH ELITE Program is a male, minority initiative designed to promote the retention and graduation of male, minority (i.e., Hispanic and African American) students at Sam Houston State University (SHSU). Established as a one-year, freshmen program, it has now evolved into a four-year comprehensive program that serves freshmen through senior students. Incoming Hispanic and/or African American, male, first-time freshmen are recruited during freshmen orientation to be in SH ELITE with the option of continuing through graduation. Students in the program meet once per week in small groups where peer mentors preside over each group to provide academic resources and support. Students go through study skill instruction, workshops that promote resource management, and speaker sessions that provide networking opportunities. Members are encouraged to attend various social activities, receptions, and special events. There is also a professional speaker series that students are required to attend once per month to enhance their networking skills.
The mission of SH ELITE is to improve the graduation and retention rates of minority, male students at Sam Houston State University. The program aims to have over 200 active members within the next 2-3 years. The goal of the program is to fully develop and implement programming that goes past developing and maintaining a strong academic foundation during freshmen year. The sophomore through senior programming will focus on interviewing resources and preparation, internship resources, public speaking resources and development, graduate school resources, and post-graduation development.
Students in SH ELITE are compared to a control group and all other minority, male, first-time, freshmen (MMFTF) at Sam Houston State University. The number of participants has increased over time arriving at 70 participants for FY15, 35 of the 70 SH ELITE students were Latino. For FY15:
· SH ELITE Latino students had a statistically significant higher course completion rate (95%) than both the control group (82%) and all other MMFTF (81%).
· Latino SH ELITE members had a statistically significant higher GPA (3.02) than both the control group (2.42) as well as all other MMFTF (2.39)
· SH ELITE Latino students have retention rates that ranged from 67%-82%; similar to those found for the control group as well as all other MMFTF. However, available 4-year and 5-year graduation data shows that Latino SH ELITE members are graduating at a 3.67 times higher rate than the control group as well as all other MMFTF.
· Additionally, qualitative data from semester program evaluations demonstrate that students attribute their success to program resources such as study skills, and personal and academic accountability (i.e., peer mentors, small groups, and grade check forms).