ASTEP Retreat ParticipantsOn Friday, August 1, 2014, faculty and staff of the African-American Success through Excellence and Persistence program (ASTEP) at Skyline College held a unified meeting of the minds in the Oakland Hills, courtesy of Dr. Tony Jackson, to discuss plans for making this Fall 2014 semester the most memorable yet! Attendees included members of such departments as Cosmetology, Counseling, Math, Middle College, Biology, Psychology, and the President’s Office to name a few. The purpose of this retreat was to discuss key elements of how to best support ASTEP student success on campus. Such elements included the incorporation of Umoja principles into classroom curriculum, revisiting and refining strategies for recruitment, outreach, retention, and increased graduation and transfer rates for ASTEP students, course-linking between math and counseling courses, and finding meaningful ways to help ASTEP students carve out an esteemed space for themselves within the Skyline College Community.

New additions to the program included the implementation of bi-weekly ASTEP faculty and staff meetings in order to upsurge productivity. With Professor Nathan Jones taking the lead in coordination of the ASTEP program this academic year, there is much to look forward to including various ASTEP events such as ASTEP Family Night (October 6, 2014) and the Umoja Conference (November 20, 2014). We look forward to such events as the Black History Month celebration, the Brothers and Sisters Conference, and possible overseas opportunities for selected ASTEP students in Spring 2015. It was noted that effective support of students within the ASTEP learning community must stretch beyond academic support to accommodate the financial and mental/psychological needs of the student body. Two attendees had this to say about the retreat’s success:

“The ASTEP retreat was very collaborative, connecting African American faculty and staff from a variety of different departments and disciplines. Everyone present provided excellent ideas on how to better serve the African American student body population at Skyline College. ASTEP plans to make this upcoming school year memorable and pleasurable for all students who participate.”

-Kwame Thomas, ASTEP Counselor

“The retreat brought together a community of eclectic diversity and energy, bridging the old and new faces of ASTEP together to usher in a new direction.”

-Nathan Jones, Associate Professor and ASTEP Learning Community Coordinator

The ASTEP learning community welcomes students of all diverse backgrounds to join its ranks and strives to represent the experience of the African American community within Skyline College. For any questions about ASTEP, please feel free to contact ASTEP at 650-738-7037 or visit the program in Building 4.

Article by Chanel Daniels | Photo by Nathan Jones