Who is the Office of Family Engagement?
The Office of Family Engagement at A&M-SA is fairly new and run by a close-knit handful of folks. The efforts to infuse families as part of the university is made possible by Dr. Reba Sims who serves as the Family Engagement Coordinator and her two Student Coordinators, Gabie and Kari. I’ve had the pleasure of working with the team for a bit over a year now, as my job title as Orientation Student Coordinator flows over into family programming. Here at A&M-SA, family is defined as whoever is supporting the student. This is not just limited to the nuclear family or blood- it includes parents, siblings, extended relatives, partners, and even friends. Knowing that family support is a huge component to student success in college, these three women are at the front for providing resources that serve as a connective tissue between the students and their family members throughout their college experience.
Past Family Involvement at A&M-SA
There have been Family Days and Weekends that would usually occur in October and February, as well as groups that families can join to be more involved on campus. One Of the initiatives to get families more involved on campus is the Family First Seminar. This is an 8-week seminar in which a student’s family member can participate. If the family member completes the course, their student is eligible to receive a free Chromebook. As A&M-SA is a Hispanic-Serving Institution, bilingual communications are offered at just about every event that the Family Engagement team hosts. Another initiative is The Family Association, who serve as the family voice in the Jaguar community. Membership has already grown through the dozens since their founding in February of 2020. By far, my favorite family-centered event was during Thanksgiving when Jaguars were invited to list out a few things on a decorative whiteboard that they were thankful about regarding their family, snap a photo of themselves in front of a fall-themed background, and send it to their family!
Future Jag Fam Involvement
As we enter this semester still bound by coronavirus concerns, the Family Engagement team has made it an important point to work on innovative ways to encourage family involvement. They strive to involve more families as part of the university through online and virtual events that even families who may not live close to their Jaguars can still participate in. The Family Connect Portal has been created so that family members can easily find out about on campus resources for themselves and their Jaguar, events that they can attend, and other important information relating to their student’s academic success. Family members can scroll through a plethora of topics and pocket populations to opt into what they want to receive information and updates about.
The first family event of the semester will be on Saturday, September 12th from 5 to 8 p.m. via Zoom. There will be a magic show, a belly dancing workshop called “Growing Confidence Through Movement”, and a game show! Between each of these sessions will be miniature sessions with caricature drawings and name art drawings.
One of the most anticipated events for this semester is A&M-SA’s very own Trunk or Treat. This drive-in movie event is open to family and friends of Jaguars and we will be held on campus on October 30th.