New initiative: ‘Success B4 the Nest’ for 2023 incoming freshman


Liyah Hogan/Managing Editor

Ronda Westry, Ph.D. and Cynthia Steele, Ph.D. will both be working on the new initiative B4 the Nest.

Brionna McCall, University News Editor

There is a lot in store for Alabama State University’s Fall 2023 freshmen class. A new initiative titled “Success B4 the Nest” is a virtual workshop series to help upcoming freshmen successfully transition from high school to the university, as well as receive a $100 student orientation waiver upon completion.
Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Ronda Westry, Ph.D., is the organizer of the workshop, and Instructor of Reading Cynthia Steele, Ph.D. is the co-organizer.
“This workshop is for incoming students who are just graduating from high school, and we are reaching out to those students from our admissions list,” Westry said. “Students who had been admitted to ASU are invited to participate in Success B4 the Nest.”
According to Westry, Success B4 the Nest was a collaborative effort with Steele because of both of their first-hand experience in working with incoming students.
“Dr. Steele, who is a great supporter of retention and works a lot with our first-year students, approached me about doing some virtual workshops for the incoming students because she knows firsthand the difficulties a lot of students have from the standpoint of the academic side in the classroom,” she said. “From the student affairs side, we are in charge of new student orientation and transitioning students through registration, and we understand some of those barriers first-hand too. So together, this collaborative experience allowed us to come up with this wonderful initiative called ‘Success B4 the Nest’ where we’re not only talking to students about how they can ensure that they’re meeting the steps along the way to get enrolled by the fall but also to help them be prepared academically and financially. A lot of emphasis will be on the financial piece because a lot of our students and parents tend to lack understanding of the topic.”
Success B4 the Nest is not only to help freshmen during their first year at the university, the goal is to retain them throughout their college career until they retain their degrees. The workshops are supposed to connect students early to the resources and to reduce “summer melt.”
Summer melt is the time when a student is admitted to the time they are enrolled in the university.
“We hope to reduce the attrition rate of those students who say ‘yes, I want to go to ASU,’ but by the fall they change their minds to go to another school or they just don’t go to school altogether,” Westry said. “This is an outreach for us to touch those students as often and early as possible so when we do get to the fall, they’re excited about ASU, they know how to go through the process, and eventually that will lead to them graduating from ASU.”
Several important topics will be discussed during the workshops such as how to get health forms, how and when they can apply for freshman housing and how to sign up for FAFSA. Topics will also include conversations about majors and careers, success tips and meeting academic advisors.
“Students will get introduced to all of the technology, from Canvas to accessing their email, so when they come in, they will not have to worry about difficulties accessing their classes,” Steele said. “I wish I had all of these new initiatives when I was coming through… Success B4 the Nest is being supported by leadership because they have allowed us to give students waivers for new student orientation for participation, and that’s a big deal for students and families because it saves them $100, but they will have to complete all of the series.”
According to Steele, The first 10 students to complete the workshop series we’re doing from December to May and participate in their financial literacy series, which will be recorded, will have the opportunity to get a $300 gift card towards the bookstore.