CSET Scholars Academy is a grant-funded program hailed for increasing college retention and graduation rates; securing internship placements; providing free tutoring for JSU and high school students; and assisting with ACT and GRE preparation. Dr. Martha N. Tchounwou leads the three-year-old program by JSU’s College of Science, Engineering and Technology (CSET). The academy is modeled after similar initiatives at other institutions of higher learning.
Tchounwou manages the program as director of the CSET Scholars Academy/Student Support Services and LSMAMP (Louis Stokes Mississippi Alliance for Minority Participation). LSMAMP assists universities and colleges in diversifying the nation’s STEM workforce, particularly among underrepresented minority populations.
“Sadly, many people don’t know what we do at the CSET Scholars Academy. We do a lot in helping retain students and helping them graduate,” Tchounwou said.
The academy is funded by several corporate partners: Entergy, Nissan and Lockheed Martin. They provide resources for student stipends, tutors and essential supplies.
Tchounwou said, “The academy also has been good for outreach to surrounding public high schools,” especially Provine and Jim Hill. She said JSU tutors visit these secondary institutions about twice a week to help with math, English, computer programming and robotics. Astoundingly, a JSU sophomore electrical engineering major from Clinton explained how the program turned him from a “D” student to an “A” student.
Senefer Jackson initially visited the CSET Scholars Academy to earn community service and to seek tutoring for subjects that he struggled with. After noticing how quickly he began to grasp the material, he visited the academy regularly and helped the main tutors assist others. Eventually, he became so adept that he is now a main tutor for Calculus I and College Algebra. Tchounwou added, “Sometimes in class, students are too nervous to ask questions. … However, with our one-on-one approach, it’s easier and more comfortable for them here.”
She boasts that “90 percent of students who come in for tutoring increase their performance by one or two grades for an overall ‘A.’ ”
In addition, Tchounwou said, “We work with and provide tutors for the Department of Athletics on campus and hope to continue working with them in providing tutors while they are on the road.” Tchounwou said success rates also extend to those studying for the ACT and GRE.
“Seventy percent of students who take the GRE class through our academy see their scores rise about 30 percent. If students’ GRE scores don’t rise, the class can be retaken only online but as often as necessary at no additional cost,” she boasts.