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Parson will be responsible for overseeing state-funded programs that provide low-income students with financial and academic support.

Bernetta Parson began serving as Barnard’s new director of HEOP/CSTEP/STEP Monday, Dean of Studies Natalie Friedman announced in an email on Monday afternoon.

Parson will be responsible for overseeing state-funded programs that provide low-income students with financial and academic support and address the needs of underrepresented students in science and technology. These programs include the Higher Education Opportunity Program, the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program, and the Science and Technology Entry Program.

The role was previously held by Nikki Youngblood-Giles, who left the position in January to become Barnard’s associate dean of studies for pre-professional advising.

The Office of Academic Success and Enrichment Programs, which Parson is now a member of, is responsible for providing academic and financial assistance for low-income students through pre-college programs, as well as through specialized programs for eligible students who attend Barnard. Benefits of some programs include work stipends, faculty mentorship, reimbursement for GRE prep courses, and partial loan repayment.

The office has recently undergone several staff transitions following an announcement earlier this semester that Associate Dean for Academic Enrichment and Community Initiatives Michell Tollinchi-Michel will leave Barnard, and that a nationwide search for her replacement will soon be conducted.

In addition to Parson’s hiring, current Associate Director for Collegiate Programs Elida Martinez-Gaynor will begin serving in the role of senior associate director for the office.

While HEOP and CSTEP are designed to assist students once they are enrolled in college, STEP serves as a pre-college program providing academic enrichment opportunities for 7th- to 12th-grade students to prepare them to pursue post-secondary education in science, technology, or health-related fields, or as licensed health professionals.

CSTEP, which began at Barnard in 2006, is STEP’s collegiate counterpart and is designed to prepare low-income Barnard students to pursue careers in these same fields.

Students who are participants in The Arthur O. Eve HEOP Scholars Program are admitted to the program when they apply to the college. After the student is admitted to Barnard, they receive academic and social support through specialized advising, individual tutoring, book vouchers, laptop loans, and access to support groups.

Parson, who is currently completing a Ph.D. in higher education at Syracuse University, previously worked as an academic adviser at LaGuardia Community College and directed Exploring Transfer at Vassar College, a program that assists low-income students who transfer from community colleges.

Parson holds a master’s degree in Urban Affairs from Hunter College, and a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Holyoke. While at Hunter, her academic focus was on the achievement of low-income transfer students.

“Her research interests, combined with her experience, will bring a fresh perspective to Barnard’s opportunity programs and enrich the College’s support systems for historically marginalized students,” Friedman said in the email.

The full email can be found below.

Dear Barnard Community,

Please join me in welcoming Bernetta Parson to Barnard as the new Director of HEOP/CSTEP/STEP programs. Director Parson begins today, stepping into the role previously held by Nikki Youngblood-Giles, who now serves as the Associate Dean of Studies for Pre-Professional Advising (and special adviser to the Senior Class). Director Parson will have oversight of the state-funded programs that provide low-income students with financial and academic support, including a highly successful pre-college summer bridge program.

Director Parson is currently finishing a Ph.D. in higher education at Syracuse University, and has worked as an academic adviser at LaGuardia Community College. She also directed the summer program Exploring Transfer at Vassar College, which brings low-income community college students to elite colleges as transfer students. Director Parson holds a B.A. from Mt. Holyoke and a master’s degree in urban affairs from Hunter College. Her academic focus is on the achievement of low-income transfer students. Her research interests, combined with her experience, will bring a fresh perspective to Barnard’s opportunity programs and enrich the College’s support systems for historically marginalized students.

Director Parson joins a wonderful staff in the HEOP/CSTEP/STEP offices, including Elida Martinez-Gaynor, who will be stepping into the role of Senior Associate Director. These two roles will not be replacing that of Dean Tollinchi-Michel; a national search will take place to find a new team member in the Dean of Studies Office. As mentioned in the announcement of Dean Tollinchi-Michel’s departure, more information on that search will be forthcoming.

Sincerely,

Natalie Friedman

Dean of Studies

aubri.juhasz@columbiaspectator.com | @aubriruth

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