CSUN’s AIMS2 Program Selected as a 2019 Example of Excelencia

Excelencia in Education has selected California State University, Northridge’s AIMS2 program as the 2019 Example of Excelencia in baccalaureate programs. Examples of Excelencia is the only national initiative to recognize evidence-based programs advancing Latino students in higher education.

CSUN electrical engineering professor S.K. Ramesh, director of the AIMS2 Program, meets with Congressman Tony Cardenas before the Celebratcion de Excelencia. Photo courtesy of S.K. Ramesh.

CSUN electrical engineering and computer professor S.K. Ramesh (right) meets with Congressman Tony Cardenas the morning before the Celebración de Excelencia. Photo courtesy of S.K. Ramesh.

CSUN’s AIMS2 program is led by S.K. Ramesh, professor of electrical and computer engineering, along with faculty and staff from CSUN’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and Michael D. Eisner College of Education. The program works in partnership with Glendale Community College, College of the Canyons, Pierce College, and Moorpark College. AIMS2 was established in 2011 with a five-year $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Hispanic Serving Institutions STEM program. It was selected to receive a sequel five-year grant of $6 million in 2016, expanding the scope and range of services offered.

Excelencia in Education received 166 program nominations from 32 states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Sixteen programs were selected as Examples of Excelencia finalists because of their efforts to accelerate Latino student success in higher education. The AIMS2 (Attract, Inspire, Mentor, and Support Students) program was one of four finalists selected from each category: associate, baccalaureate, graduate and community-based organization.

The 2019 Examples of Excelencia were announced today at the annual Celebración de Excelencia in the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. The recognition comes with a cash award of $5,000.

“We are deeply humbled by the recognition from Excelencia and grateful for the support from the United States Department of Education which has made this program possible,” said Ramesh.

On Oct. 25, AIMS2 will be featured, along with the other Examples of Excelencia, during a panel discussion and presentations at the Accelerating Latino Student Success Institute. Leaders from institutions around the country will convene to discuss best practices to serve Hispanic/Latino students and underrepresented minorities in higher education.

The program is a testament to the power of collaboration and the cohort model, Ramesh said, adding that the cohort becomes an extended family, and as all families do, sustain and support students academically and socially.

“AIMS2 is all about community – it is a community of faculty, staff, and students,” said Ramesh. “It is focused on one thing and one thing only, which is how can we help our students be successful.”

Since its inception, AIMS2 has served over 500 students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, closing the achievement gap, improving transfer success and increasing overall graduation rates for Hispanic and low-income students. Students in the cohort are supported with bi-annual stipends and have access to special mentoring and advisement by faculty, tutoring and peer mentoring, field trips and opportunities to take part in paid undergraduate research internships.

In 2018, AIMS2 was recognized as an Examples of Excelencia finalist in the baccalaureate program category. It was shortlisted as one of the 10 programs worldwide for the Global Engineering Deans Council Diversity award. Previously it was named as a 2015 Bright Spot by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics and received an Honorable Mention award from Excelencia in 2014.

For more information about AIMS2, visit http://www.ecs.csun.edu/aims2/

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