California State University, Northridge’s AIMS2 program has been recognized as a 2018 Examples of Excelencia Finalist in the baccalaureate program category. Examples of Excelencia is a national effort by the nonprofit Excelencia in Education to bring attention to evidence-based practices that work for Latino students in higher education.
The AIMS2 program is one of 21 finalists selected from more than 139 nominated programs from 27 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Excelencia honors four programs annually, one in each of four categories (associate, baccalaureate, graduate and community-based organizations). The Examples of Excelencia will be announced Oct. 11 at the annual Celebración de Excelencia in Washington, D.C.
The AIMS2 (Attract, Inspire, Mentor and Support Students) program is led by the College of Engineering and Computer Science at CSUN, in partnership with Glendale Community College, College of the Canyons, Los Angeles Pierce College and Moorpark College. It was established in 2011 with a $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education and is the brainchild of the project director, CSUN professor of electrical and computer engineering S. K. Ramesh, who served as dean of the college from 2006-17.
Students enrolled in the cohort-based program have access to a wide range of academic resources such as faculty and peer mentors, tutors, educational field trips, workshops, career opportunities and travel grants to participate in conferences. Additionally, all AIMS2 students are eligible to receive a stipend each semester, and they work closely with faculty mentors as paid research assistants. Students showcase their research projects at an annual research symposium, which is open to the public. This year’s symposium is scheduled for Sept. 11 at the CSUN University Student Union Grand Salon.
The retention rate of the students in the AIMS2 program is 94 percent, and the three-year transfer graduation rate is over 70 percent, almost double the college average. The success of the program was instrumental in its selection for a sequel grant of $6 million from the U.S. Department of Education in 2016, and it has now expanded to serve more than 350 students across partner institutions, including freshmen and transfer students.
Ramesh said he is proud of the AIMS2 students’ work.
“It is deeply humbling to be recognized by Excelencia for our work to improve student success and close the achievement gaps for underrepresented minorities,” he said. “It is a testament to the dedication and commitment of our team of over 30 faculty and staff, and industry partners who have been working collaboratively to support students.”
Excelencia in Education awarded AIMS2 with an honorable mention in 2014, and the CSUN program earned a Bright Spot in Hispanic Education award in 2015 from the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
In 2017, Excelencia recognized the work of the CSUN program PUMP (Preparing Undergraduates through Mentoring toward Ph.Ds.) for increasing the number of Latino students who enroll in graduate programs in the mathematical sciences.
For more information about AIMS2, please visit: http://www.ecs.csun.edu/aims2/