Student success is a top priority for Norma Martinez Rogers, Ph.D., R.N., assistant professor in the department of family nursing care. It is so important that she created the Juntos Podemos (Together We Can) program at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSC). Juntos Podemos, which has been in existence for two years, assists disadvantaged nursing students through its mentoring component. The program was recognized for its excellence during the recent Ford Salute to Education awards ceremony and reception. Dr. Martinez Rogers received a grant to continue the program at the Health Science Center.
"Many of our students, especially those who come from underserved educational institutions, have more barriers to succeeding in college than other students," Dr. Martinez Rogers said. "Not only do they have the rigorous demands of school, they also have demands from family and employment. Many of them must rely on loans, grants and scholarships to finance their education because they are financially disadvantaged. Sometimes these demands weigh too heavily on a student and he or she ends up dropping out of school."
Through a mentoring component, the Juntos Podemos program teams second- and third-semester nursing students with first-semester nursing students who are considered to be at risk for dropping out of school.
The mentors serve as role models who positively influence and guide students to continue through school and to realize their career goals. Mentors receive a stipend and serve as tutors, counselors and resources for their protégés.
Third-semester nursing student Christopher Lee Navarrette has been involved in the program since its inception. He started out as a protégé himself and now has four protégés who look to him for guidance and advice.
"I had such a positive experience with my mentor that I want to pass that experience along to other students," said Navarrette. "A lot of the students in the program don't have the support systems they need to succeed. I feel good about being able to help provide them with some of the resources and encouragement they may be lacking."
For more information about the Juntos Podemos program, call Dr. Martinez Rogers at (210) 567-2547.