Hello, my name is Andy Le and I am the outreach coordinator for the Student Outreach and Retention (SOAR) Center. SOAR is a brand new center; we are also 12 years in the making. Students have dreamed about having a student-initiated space after being inspired by the other outreach and retention centers out there (UCLA, CAL, UC Santa Cruz, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, UC Davis). SOAR helps cater toward UC Irvine students and our local communities.
How we help our local community is through outreach. We provide Student Initiated Academic Preparation (SIAP) grants to student organizations to help motivate and inspire students in under-resourced areas. These students range from middle, high school, community college and even our veterans to help strive toward higher education. We have a total of 18 student organizations receiving the SIAP grant that help serve an estimate of 3,000 students. SOAR serves as the main resource of funding for outreach programs. As the SOAR continues to grow, it is important to expand to cater toward more student-initiated projects and outreach to our local communities.
In terms of retention, we do student-initiated projects to retain students here at UCI, so they not only just survive UCI but thrive here as well. The programs and service we provide are to cater to students through multiple facets with which a student may be struggling. We are a one-stop shop to assist students with the numerous resources here at UCI. We have a study space filled with computers if students are in need of a great study space.
SOAR is in co-sponsorship with the Antleader Mentorship Program, which assists in the transition for incoming freshman and transfer students while developing and enhancing leadership skills. One of our retention services is Cup of SOAR in which we provide free coffee to encourage students to study and network with other students across campus. Most importantly, we have the student ambassador volunteer program in which students strengthen their professional skills as they build and create this center to its rightful fruition through their ideas and their hard work.
As I mentioned, students have advocated and dreamed for a space to provide academic, social and wellness support for all students. SOAR has been here since 2011 on temporary funds by administration and we’re working to become permanent so we can ideally grow and expand to cater more students. SOAR is committed to the on-going support of students and would like a permanent space to extend services and create amenities such as extended SOAR hours, textbook exchange, discounted printing and more student jobs.
Two years ago we proposed a referendum to develop a SOAR space, but unfortunately we weren’t able to secure permanent funding because not enough students voted. During Week 3, April 15-19, students can vote YES and support a $4.50 per quarter fee to the SOAR Center open and cover its operating costs.
Andy Le is a third-year criminology, law, and society major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.