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New Rawlins Hall Living Learning Community looks to help retention rates

New Rawlins Hall Living Learning Community looks to help retention rates

Rawlins Hall, conveniently located near the Collosseum and other traditional residence halls, houses three Living Learning Communities: Pre-Law, UNT Serves and Martial Eagles.

New Rawlins Hall Living Learning Community looks to help retention rates
August 28
16:29 2017

A Rawlins Hall-based Living Learning Community with a focus on first generation African-American and Latino males is entering its inaugural session this fall semester at UNT.

Living Learning Communities, or LLCs, are wings dedicated to specific groups of people within the various residence halls on campus. The new LLC for Rawlins is known as MARTIAL Eagles, which stands for Male Alliance for a Rigorous, Transformative, and Interdisciplinary Approach to Learning.

This new LLC seeks to work with the student populations at UNT with the lowest retention rate. At UNT this population consists of first generation African-American and Latino males, according to Harold Woodard, the executive director for student retention initiatives.

“At its heart, this program is a retention-based program,” Woodard said. “I’m hoping that these young men finish their semester with the highest GPA possible for them, and see them back for another semester.”

Woodard and Candi Harris, student services coordinator, lead the MARTIAL program together.

MARTIAL Eagle students must attend a one-hour seminar, co-taught by Woodard and Harris. Woodard focuses on the historical and cultural components, while Harris does the academic success components.

Additionally, students in the LLC are required to take the three-hour sociology core course: Introduction to Race and Ethnicity in America. Alongside the academic components, MARTIAL Eagles will also engage in a number of extracurricular activities throughout the semester.

The Eagles will also be going to see the Afro-Cuban Ensemble at the Murchison, the Denton Blues Festival in September and other events throughout the year, according to Harris.

During the summer, MARTIAL Eagles had a table at freshman orientation where students could learn more about the LLC. Woodward said the reception at the table was positive.

“We had a nice little display summarizing what we are about,” Woodard said. “Once students showed interest, we answered questions and asked them to apply.”

As was the case at orientation, initial reactions towards the program from the students in the LLC have been positive in the time leading up to the start of school.

“I feel that [Woodard and Harris] are giving their heart to us in order to strive for success and make wiser choices,” freshman MARTIAL Eagle Moses Chism said. “I want to not only learn more from them but to set an example to the future MARTIAL Eagle members.”

Before the semester, the group engaged in an activity to help create and deepen bonds among their fellow eagles.

“We took three vans down to Group Dynamix in Carrollton.” Harris said. “It was an opportunity to break the ice and get to know one another via floor games and rope courses.”

These activities were successful, according to Harris.

“The facilitators noticed a little bit into the program they dropped their coolness,” Harris said. “It was a good time for them to just come together.”

The LLC has many goals, but its academics components are paramount, according to Woodard.

Woodard and Harris hope that alongside facing their academic rigors, the students in MARTIAL will form close bonds internally, while also excelling outside the program.

“We are trying to get them to connect not just within their group, but to UNT and the Denton community as well,” Harris said.

Presented these goals, the MARTIAL Eagles are prepared to meet them.

“I love what Mrs. Candi and Mr. Woodard are trying to do for us,” freshman MARTIAL eagle Jeff Knox said. “I plan to help out this organization in the best ways that I can. I sense something special in this program, and I am ready to get to work.”

Featured Image: Rawlins Hall, located near the Coliseum and other traditional residence halls, houses three Living Learning Communities: Pre-Law, UNT Serves and MARTIAL Eagles. Madison Gore

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Joshua Cassidy

Joshua Cassidy

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