Alandrea P. Stewart, Ed.D
Director, Student Support Services
Harris-Stowe State University
In short, what do you do?
As director, of Student Support Services I am responsible for providing administrative leadership for the University’s federally-funded TRIO program. Student Support Services working in collaboration with other university offices offers academic, career and professional development services to our students. We also incorporate cultural experiences, financial literacy and financial support as these are key components to their success. Our goal is to ensure our students, many of whom are first-generation, low income or disabled, are given every opportunity for success in spite of their many personal challenges. We want them to not just enroll in college, but to graduate and become successful in their future endeavors.
After working as a high school guidance counselor and now at the college level, where do you see progress being made in terms of access to higher education, and what are the major challenges that remain?
My experience as a high school counselor was invaluable to my transition to higher education. The high school experience allowed me to gain insight into the personal challenges many of our students face outside of the classroom, and the role those challenges play in their success. Our profession understands that there are many impediments to success for all students, but students from less advantaged backgrounds face additional and unique challenges.
There have been many strides to increase access to higher education in the United States. Some of these efforts include increases in funding for the federal Pell Grant program, states offering free community college, institutions providing tuition-free programs for low-income students, the implementation of successful student support programs like TRIO, and an overall institutional commitment to providing access to higher education. Despite efforts to increase access, much work remains to be done. Many students are inadequately prepared for college-level coursework and are in need of remedial education. In addition to access, affordability still remains a major challenge. In addition to a decline in state and federal investments in higher education college tuition is steadily increasing barring more low-income and minority students from the opportunity to earn a degree.
How do you define success in terms of your work and the students you serve?
The objectives of Student Support Services at Harris-Stowe State University are: to increase the number of students that are retained at the university, increase the number of students who are in good academic standing and increase the number of students that graduate. I would define success as students growing and persisting from one semester to the next and ultimately graduating from the university within four to six years. Many of these students will be the first in their family to obtain a college degree. Earning a college degree can potentially enhance the social and economic structure of these student’s families and communities for generations to come.
Tell us about the Fisher Family Scholarship Fund, your role and how you became involved.
The Fisher Family Scholarship Fund was established in March 2010 to help expand efforts to reach college-bound minority youth in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The Fisher Family Scholarship Fund is a culmination of various scholarships initially established in memory of several members of my family. We annually provide minority students graduating from a St. Louis Metropolitan Area public school who plan to attend college a $1,000.00 non-renewable scholarship. The scholarship is paid directly to the student to use toward their college expenses. More information about the Fund can be found at https://fisherfamilyscholarship.org/.