Oct 21, 2018
Thousands of people from the Central Valley and other places came to graduation in the Save Mart Center to watch Fresno State students walk across the stage to complete their college career. college career. Photo by Rosemarie Borunda

Initiative launches to help seniors graduate early

One of the most disheartening and frustrating situations for a senior to endure would be being a few units shy of graduating but having to go to school for another whole semester.

Senior psychology student Paige Flores said that she was one class away from graduating, but that she would have to wait and take that class during the summer.

Flores said she was enrolled in that last class, but an overwhelming unit load forced her to drop it.

Senior communications student Karissa Aston said that she had one three-unit upper-division writing course left to take in order to graduate.

Aston said that particular course was a very popular and high-demand class that was difficult to get into.

Many students are faced with this same frustrating situation every year, and that is why the Provost’s Graduation Initiative was created.

Dr. Scott Moore, dean of the Division of Continuing and Global Education (CGE), said that Provost Lynnette Zelezny created this graduation initiative because she wanted students to have access to courses through CGE.

“This initiative is part of Fresno State’s commitment to help students graduate early,” Moore said. “The idea is that there are a lot of students who are close to graduation who may just need one or two classes, and then they wouldn’t have to come back in the fall.”

Moore said that as long as students meet the requirements, CGE will continue to fund as many students as possible until the budget has run out of money.

Some of the requirements include being an undergraduate student in good academic standing and having 80 or more earned units.

Receiving money from the Provost Graduation Initiative would greatly help her financial needs and allow her to take her final class in the summer instead of waiting until the fall semester, Flores said.

“It would just be a lot easier for me to finish my last class in the summer so that I wouldn’t have to go through the whole entire semester and have to get a parking pass, tuition and just everything,” Flores said. “In the summer, it would just be a lot easier and quicker.”

If Aston were to get this money from the initiative, she also could take her final course during the summer session and graduate earlier than expected, she said.

Moore said that the initiative can offer up to $1,260 per student, which is the equivalent of the cost of a four-unit class offered in the May-June intersession and/or summer session in CGE.

Moore said that he was not aware of any other universities that have programs such as this initiative, and that it is especially helpful considering that some types of financial aid are not available during the summer.  

Flores said that she thought it was awesome that Fresno State was the only school with this kind of initiative and gives an opportunity like this to students in the same situation that she was in.

“I was honestly shocked when I got the email about this provost initiative,” Flores said. “As soon as I read it, I was really excited because I didn’t know how I was going to pay for my tuition for the summer.”

Flores said that this initiative was helpful to students who have just one or two more classes to take and just want to get school over with.

“Getting this scholarship would help me to finish up my degree and then go on and, hopefully, get into a credential program, so that I can get a job and start my life,” Flores said. “I am so ready [to graduate].”

Aston said this initiative shows that the university values the time and effort of the students and their goals to finish school and begin their careers.

“They know that it’s a hard time for students,” Aston said. “For me—and for any other student—a program like this shows the provost actually cares about the students’ hustle.”

When a professor told Aston and her classmates about the initiative, she said that they were all in disbelief.

“We were all in the same predicament,” Aston said. “We want to graduate, but times are hard.  This program needs to be accessible to more than just Fresno State students. It needs to be accessible to any college student.”

Aston said it was very frustrating to not be able to get into the classes that she needed, but that the end result is worth the hard work and wait.

She said a program like the provost initiative is a good investment for a university to have for its’ close-to-graduating seniors.

“You’ve already proved that you actually care about your education,” Aston said. “It would be a reward to finish off your college education.”

Aston said that as a financial support recipient, not having that aid during the summer intersession was difficult.

“There are obstacles that you have to take in the college field, but this program actually subsides all that,” Aston said.

This is the first time the university is offering this program, and Moore said that he wants as many students as possible to apply by the deadline, whether they think they qualify or not.

“We will give everybody full consideration if the application comes in before April 1,” Moore said. “Then we’ll take a look at all those applications and we’re going to basically rank them for the people who have the most amount of need, and at that point, we will make the awards.”

If there is any money left over, then CGE will begin looking at applications filed by a second deadline of May 2 and will award a second round of money, Moore said.

“Let’s not let finances be a reason that you don’t finish up your degree,” Moore said. “Let’s try to make sure that all of the options for you to graduate are on the table for you—for all of our students.”

“I’m very excited about graduating,” Aston said. “I’m ready to get into the work field. I’m ready to stop these school hours and ready to get into the work hours.”

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