New Achieve Scholars program begins
Students in the College of Arts and Sciences can now work directly with faculty mentors and local business professionals to help them land a job after graduating.
In the new Achieve Scholars program, 30 rising sophomores and juniors will be selected to participate. Students were nominated by their department head or faculty members from across the College of Arts and Sciences.
Starting fall semester, they will attend workshops to learn about professional etiquette, workplace expectations, career opportunities within their major, resumé writing and what to expect during job interviews, among other subjects.
“It’s an eclectic and diverse group of individuals who will work toward a common goal of understanding and preparing for what comes after graduation,” says Arts and Sciences Dean Joe Wilferth. “The ultimate goal is career-readiness.”
At the end of the program, students meet with mentors and participate in panels and presentations at least twice in the fall and twice in the spring semesters.
When Erica Holmes-Trujillo graduated from college with a degree in sociology, she stepped out in the real world and thought: So what do I do now?
“When students hear ‘business’ or ‘accounting,’ that’s a very clear career path. Teaching is a very clear career path,” she says. “My degree is in sociology and that is not a very clear career path.”
She now hopes to save graduates in the College of Arts and Sciences from facing that kind of confusion. In June, she was hired as director of the Hub, the new student success center designed to help the college’s graduates prepare for life, both while at and after college.
“We are preparing students to not only be students but to be graduates,” she says. “I know firsthand what it’s like to be an Arts and Sciences major, and I know firsthand what it’s like to not access the resources that are available to you, so I’m very passionate about providing all those resources for students.”
Those resources include career counseling, directing students toward experiential learning opportunities, teaching them how to build a resume and finding faculty mentors to help guide them through their years at UTC.
“In its simplest terms, what we are is success navigators,” Holmes-Trujillo says. “We help students understand everything from: Where is your class to what does this mean on your syllabus to where does this course fit in the context of your degree to how to find the experience that you have to have to get a job now that you have graduated. What is your plan going to be?
“While we may not give all those answers, we connect students with the appropriate place that will.”
Holmes-Trujillo has spent the past 12 years working in higher education, including jobs in student and academic affairs and enrollment management. Prior to arriving at UTC, she worked in the University of New Mexico system.
“She has a proven record in leading student success initiatives, and she brings that experience to the college,” says Wilferth. “We are very fortunate to have her. She will be, in many ways, the chief architect of our student success initiatives across Arts and Sciences.”
Holmes-Trujillo says Arts and Sciences graduates may not realize that the skills they’ve learned in their degree program can open far more doors than they think.
“There isn’t as much awareness that actually, as a liberal arts major, as an arts and sciences major, you are actually very well-rounded, and you have all of the skills that employers are coming to colleges and asking that graduates demonstrate: Critical thinking. Reasoning. Problem-solving. Teamwork,” she says. “All of those things are part of the education that you’re getting as an arts and sciences major.”
While classroom studies are critical, she says, “look around, there’s so much more at UTC” and the Hub will be part of it.
“We want to build upon the wonderful things that are already happening and build a really coordinated space for all the things that are happening in the College of Arts and Sciences.”
“We want to be a space where students can come and we can help them find the answer to questions they have and maybe even questions they don’t know they have.”