OPAL hires Santos-Koy to advise first-generation programs
By Ashley Ulrich, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Monday, September 10, 2012
Karlos Santos-Coy joined the Office of Pluralism and Leadership staff this fall in a new, one-year leadership coordinator position, according to OPAL Director Alysson Satterlund. The position was designed to enhance OPAL’s Diversity Peer Program and Leadership Discovery Program, to provide a dedicated advisor to its First Generation Network and to reduce the workload of an already short-staffed OPAL office, Satterlund said in an email to The Dartmouth.
Santos-Coy began work on Sept. 3 by helping with OPAL’s planned orientation events for incoming students, according to Satterlund. Santos-Coy immediately took on coordinating the First Generation Network — a program launched by OPAL in 2008 to help connect students, faculty and staff who are the first in their families to a attend a four-year college — and advising incoming first-generation students, Satterlund said. The first event he is planning is a welcome dinner for first-generation students on Sept. 13.
Santos-Coy previously worked for seven years as a student advisor at California State University, advising cultural, academic and religious clubs, as well as serving social and culturally based Greek letter organizations, according to the OPAL website.
“[Santos-Coy] is a hard-working and dedicated student development professional who is student-centered, resourceful, energetic and creative,” Satterlund said. “He brings a deep knowledge of innovative and well-tested student leadership development expertise, which will serve our students as they prepare for leadership roles at Dartmouth and beyond.”
In the longer-term, Santos-Coy will work with OPAL’s DPP interns to help them coordinate a fall session on Oct. 19 and 20. He will also work with alumni, current students and OPAL partners on campus to redesign OPAL’s LDP program, according to Satterlund.
“Santos-Coy will be working with all the OPAL advisors and students to develop programs that showcase the intersections of identity and community,” Satterlund said. “We are also very interested in bringing to fruition a national conference on the first-generation student that would be led by students in Spring 2013.”
OPAL’s designation of a full-time staff member for aiding first-generation students is a positive change, according to Francisco Herrera ’13. Herrera participated in the First Generation Network during his freshman Orientation and has been a mentor and intern for the Tucker Foundation’s First-Year Student Enrichment Program.
“The First Generation Network was the first thing that I did when I came to Dartmouth,” Herrera said. “I remember it was really nice to see so many people that were first in their families to not only attend college, but to come to Dartmouth.”
OPAL’s previous lack of a staff member dedicated to the first-generation community was reflected in the limited number of events for incoming students, Herrera said.
“I met a few upperclassmen that I continued to talk to after Orientation, but [the First Generation Network] was more a space than a program,” Herrera said. “It was nice to come together and know we were going through similar experiences, but there wasn’t a full schedule of plans or events going on.”
First-generation students are one of many communities at Dartmouth who have been under-served because of the high staff turnover rate within OPAL, according to Karenina Rojas ’13. Rojas participated in the First Generation Network during her freshman Orientation.
“[Members of the Class of 2013] have seen basically every full-time advisor leave within the past three years — advisors for LGBT, Asian-Americans, low-socioeconomic students,” Rojas said. “It’s really disappointing, but hopefully they will fill the positions soon.”
Rojas remembers the First Generation Network as being helpful for making new students aware of how Dartmouth may be different for first-generation students and for bringing together current and incoming first-generation students.
“Considering statistics on retention and graduation rates for first-generation students, it’s great the College is being proactive and trying to provide resources for students from the beginning,” Rojas said. “Having someone focused on the First Generation Network is something the College really needs.
About 10 percent of Dartmouth students are the first in their families to attend a four-year college, according to the College’s website. This year, 33 incoming students participated in FYSEP and were matched with 33 junior and senior mentors as part of the program, according to FYSEP director Jay Davis.
Santos-Coy was unavailable for comment by press time.