DATE:  April 21, 2005
CONTACT: Dr. Susan Wolff Murphy, Co-Director of the First Year Program, (361) 825-2640; Melissa Goonan, Public Affairs, (361) 825-2337   

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi First-Year Learning Communities Program to Showcase Student Research Projects   

Students in Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi’s First-Year Learning Communities Program (FYLCP) will showcase their freshman research projects during the University’s “First-Year Celebration” on Thursday, April 28 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the University Center, Lone Star Ballroom.

The FYLCP, formed in 1994 to address the freshman retention rate, has been very successful in helping students make a successful academic and social transition from high school to the University. This year 1,200 students are participating in the program which consists of triads or tetrads where students and teachers form a learning community.

“Being a freshman at any university is never easy, but the FYLCP tries to smooth the transition by helping students gain confidence and find their voice at the University,” points out Dr. Susan Wolff Murphy, co-director of the First-Year Program. “Students learn to write and think critically about solutions to social issues, which helps develop their academic skills in the classroom.”

During the “First-Year Celebration,” students present their research projects in visual, multimedia and other creative formats. In the past, students have focused on issues such as political activism drug abuse, child abuse, diabetes prevention, the environment and an array of other social problems.

“The FYLC succeeds in taking the student’s writing outside the classroom and provides them with a real audience of professors, deans and fellow students,” said Murphy. “Students receive affirmation from the audience and also experience the critical thinking exercise of interacting with questioning audiences.”

At the last FYLCP celebration, accounting major Ann Papillano presented an information board about the dangers lurking on the Internet.

“I enjoy drawing and the project allowed me to combine creativity and technology to teach people about the possible dangers on line,” she said. “I enjoyed the project and got to teach people about something important to me,” said Papillano.

The University’s FYLCP has been recognized both regionally and nationally. In 2001, the University received the prestigious STAR award from the Texas Higher Education Coordination Board, and in 2002 A&M-Corpus Christi was one of only 13 institutions recognized nationally as an “Institution of Excellence in the First College Year” by the Policy Center. In 2003, A&M-Corpus Christi was the only public university in Texas and one of only 12 nationally chosen to participate in the “Foundations of Excellence in the First College Year Project” by the Policy Center.