An SNU Grant Program Making A Major Difference

(BETHANY, OK) – Since 2001, Southern Nazarene University (SNU) has been honored to be the recipient of a Student Support Services grant from the U.S. Department of Education, TRIO. The SSS program serves undergraduate, first-generation students, students with disabilities, and students who meet the specific income criteria.  SNU receives $237,261.00 annually for five years and contributes approximately $20,000 in value each year to help support the program. The extremely difficult and time-consuming application process that has allowed SNU to be awarded both the TRIO SSS and the McNair grants throughout the last 16 years has been primarily due to the hard work of Dr. Gwen Hackler, professor, and SNU Academic Grants Office Director. The name associated with the SSS grant at SNU is L.I.F.E., Leadership, Integrity, Friendship, and Education (LIFE). The program is located in the recently remodeled Learning Resource Center, Center for Student Success.

The Director of this intensive supportive program is, Prof. Loral Henck, M.A., who grew up in Tulsa and came to SNU in 2000.  Loral and her hard-working staff serve 165 undergraduates annually in the areas of academic tutoring, personal life skills advising, one-on-one mentoring, life coaching, financial literacy support, educational trips, cultural events, and numerous other types of scholastic and personal support needed to be successful in college.

To qualify for the program, a student must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, a full-time undergraduate student at SNU, demonstrate high motivation to complete all four years of coursework and have an academic need.  Says Loral, "The most exciting element of this program is that it specifically targets under-resourced students. We have the privilege of pouring into students' lives on a daily basis. With the start of this year's grant, LIFE students now have the opportunity to meet with a life coach and also receive additional financial aid/literacy education and mentoring. Typically, less than 17% of eligible non-served first-gen/low-income students graduate from college, but due to the hard work and dedication of the LIFE program staff 50% of the LIFE participants graduated from SNU last year!

SNU LIFE students are highly involved in campus student leadership, with current students serving as student government leaders, resident advisors, New Student Institute mentors, and tutors. Some LIFE students also participate in undergraduate research and the SNU Honors Program. Four LIFE SNU graduates received full-ride scholarships to graduate school.    

Loral and her staff, Robyn Bryan, Stacey Clowers and Tabitha Pope are constantly coming up with unique and challenging ideas to help these students complete their post-secondary education.  "Our foremost goal remains to provide a foundation for every student in the program to overcome any academic, personal, or cultural obstacle to higher education," continues Loral.  Through a highly personalized support system, the L.I.F.E. program strives to build professional and personal relationships with students to assess their individual needs carefully and to offer appropriate academic, personal, and career support.