Sam Houston Establishing Leadership In and Through Education (SH ELITE)

Academic Level
Issue Area
Program Focus


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.

Program Description

The SH ELITE program was developed in support of the "Closing the Gaps: The Texas Higher Education Plan" to increase minority retention and graduation rates in higher education institutions. Dr. Bernice Strauss and Mrs. Candi Harris founded the Sam Houston Establishing Leadership In & Through Education (SH ELITE) Program in 2010. The Since the pilot cohort (fall 2010), SH ELITE has served over 437 minority male students and has been successful in providing students the resources they need by facilitating a robust university experience that prepares each participant for leadership and success. Initially funded by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, SHSU now funds the program.

SH ELITE Scholars participate in weekly group meetings designed to aid the transition from high school to college, to establish a strong academic foundation, and to introduce them to professional concepts. To promote networking and professional motivation, scholars attend a monthly speaker series. SH ELITE participants also attend a variety of programming designed to promote team-building skills and to foster a culture of excellence, while providing an internal support system within the program.


Academic Success Indicator (ASI), All Minority Male First-Time Freshmen (FTF). Comparison Group (CG), SH ELITE (SHE)

ASI GPA* - (FTF) 2.30 (CG) 2.39 (SHE) 3.01

Course Completion Rate* (FTF) 81.00% (CG) 82.00% (SHE) 95.00%

1-YR Retention** (FTF) 74.15% (CG) 71.43% (SHE) 91.43%

4-YR Graduation** (FTF) 21.74% (CG) 25.71% (SHE) 40.00%

5-YR Graduation** (FTF) 34.82% (CG) 35.62% (SHE) 52.05%

6-YR Graduation** (FTF) 40.69% ( CG) 47.37% (SHE) 54.55%

*Data represents the 2017-2018 Academic Year

**Data represents the average of all cohorts