GANAS celebrates first graduating class

Louis Laventure,
Sports and Campus Editor

Most people believe that getting into college is difficult and it is. But the harder part is once you get accepted, obtaining a degree.

For Hispanic and Latino transfer students this has been an especially glaring problem according to the university’s transfer and retention rates. According to the University Diversity Officer Dianne Rush Woods, “Just 25 percent of African American and Latino students graduate over six years, while 46 percent of all other ethnicities graduate over the same time span at CSUEB.”

GANAS, which stands for “Gaining Access ‘N Academic Success,” is entering its third year at CSUEB and was initiated to, “smooth the process of transition for community college transfer students to Cal State East Bay and increase the baccalaureate degree attainment of program participants,” according to the GANAS website.

The program began in fall of 2013 with 35 students and on June 7 GANAS honored 25 of those students who graduated after two years and two that graduated after just one year at CSUEB after starting the program at the same time.

Many of the students were the first in their family to attend college and come from low-income environments.

While GANAS is open to all students, its primary focus is on Latino students with 90 or more units of transfer credit. The program also aims to make teaching, counseling and mentoring cohesive so they can specialize the college experience for students in hopes of helping them obtain a degree.

Director of Community College programs, Training and the Puente Project at UC Berkeley Julia Vergara said with the increased success of the program they are hopeful they can replicate the CSUEB model at other community colleges and San Diego State except with participants being incoming freshman instead of transfer students.

Since the program’s inception in 2013, there were 474 Hispanic transfer students enrolled at CSUEB and by fall 2014 84 percent of those students graduated or were still enrolled either part-time or full-time while the rest either dropped out or put school on hold.

While those rates include freshman as well as transfer students, many transfers have a tough transition time and just two years to figure out their new campus, which leads to the low retention rates according to the GANAS website.

Co-founder of GANAS at CSUEB and Special Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs, Diana Balgas, said in an interview with CSUEB last week, “I am often taken aback in how much they have grown individually and collectively in a relatively short period of time. We are a familia.”

For the spring quarter of 2014, the average GPA of GANAS students at CSUEB was 3.26 while the average GPA for all students was 2.96.

Latino students at CSUEB in that same quarter had an average GPA of 2.85 and according to GANAS their students perform better than average despite 81 percent of students in the GANAS program working part-time. Students in the program also get paired with a mentor in order to aid in the transition process.