Project SSOS funds Asian American and Pacific Islander student services on campus through $1.75 million in federal grants. (Photo: Poly Club)
Two recent follow-up awards have brought to Cal State East Bay a total of $1.75 million in grants to put in place the Student Service Operation to Succeed program, or Project SSOS, that boosts admission accessibility and career success for students of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) backgrounds.
Project SSOS, originally funded in 2012 with a $1.57 million grant from the federal Department of Education’s AAPI Serving Institution initiative, offers students free services on campus such as tutoring, mentoring, workshops, scholarships and leadership courses.
“It’s a challenge to come to a new university, and SSOS provides important student services that are sensitive to AAPI needs, while also being a great opportunity to find other like-minded students,” said Kim Geron, co-principal investigator and SSOS retention coordinator.
“We have established a lot in the past year,” Geron said.
One-on-one academic advising is provided for all SSOS students to help them create an educational plan to meet their goals and objectives. They also receive academic advising that may include guidance about meeting general education and graduation requirements, assistance with developing educational goals and plans, help in understanding academic policies and procedures, support for choosing and pursuing a major and referrals to resources and services available on campus.
Approximately 20 peer mentors work with SSOS students to give advice on meeting challenges in their classes and adapting to the college lifestyle.
“The mentors are fellow SSOS students who are sensitive to the different cultural backgrounds and history each individual student has,” Geron said.
Junior Shivneel Sen, a SSOS peer mentor, recalled a SSOS student he mentored who was on the verge of being kicked out of the university due to a low GPA.
“Together we had to explore all important skills, like time management, and we ended up raising her grades,” Sen said. “It was very satisfying.”
Student tutors also are available for one-on-one, subject-specific help and make it easy for SSOS participants by meeting them on campus.
Project SSOS set up AAPI cultural activities throughout the academic year such as a Lunar New Year celebration, a taiko drum show, a multicultural celebration and fashion show and the AAPI Graduation Gala.
SSOS students can join the U-Story project that provides opportunities to discuss diversity issues and promote Asian American and Pacific Islander cultural heritage. Students display U-Story projects through a variety of creative ways, such as video presentations, short essays, audio stories, websites or posters to tell about their life experiences as an AAPI. All SSOS students can enroll and participate in the U-Story project. Submissions receive awards and are presented during the SSOS Open House.
“Each U-story allows all of us to learn about that specific student and their background,” Geron said.
SSOS students also may apply for the I-Perfect-10 (IP10) Award program which electronically tracks IP10 participants’ achievements and participation in activities, including U-Story telling, receiving tutoring, interacting with SSOS mentors, implementing and participating in cultural activities and taking SSOS recommended AAPI courses. Students who complete 10 distinct SSOS activities each quarter receive a $100 quarterly stipend check.
“So far, we have touched about 600 students in some way, and we hope to have at least 100 more students join SSOS,” Geron said.
To participate in Project SSOS, students must be eligible to enroll in classes at CSUEB, be a U.S. citizen, national or permanent resident of Asian American or Pacific Islander heritage and working towards their first bachelor’s degree. If eligible, complete and submit the online application form.