Concordia University Ann Arbor is stepping up to help students who are a step behind.

For the spring 2021 semester, the campus will implement a new mentor program for students who are first generation, Pell Grant eligible, on probation, or have a current or incoming high school GPA below 2.3.

Qualifying students will be grouped into learning communities that will be guided by a faculty or staff mentor. The employee mentors will meet weekly with their communities, serving as a personal resource and implementing CUAA’s Destination Cardinal curriculum.

Destination Cardinal, which launched this past fall, is primarily a “summer bridge” program that provides low-income or first-generation students with resources and support before they even begin at Concordia in order to ease their transition from high school to college. However, the program’s curriculum holds value for at-risk learners at all stages of their collegiate journey, says Dr. Tori Negash, director of Concordia’s Academic Resource Center (ARC).

Supported by funds from CUAA’s largest grant award in recent history, the Destination Cardinal curriculum is accessible through an online portal, and includes sections of information such as: online learning tips and tricks; academic and career exploration; personal growth, development, and well-being.

Less than a month after its launch, Negash said nearly 200 at-risk students had logged on and started to explore.

The mentor program is yet another measure to extend needed support to students.

“As we continue to welcome a diverse population of learners at Concordia, we’re called to develop better systems of support and engagement for all,” said Negash. “Statistically speaking, certain student groups are less likely to complete college because of all the obstacles they have stacked against them. This doesn’t mean they’re any less determined or competent, by the way. It means they could benefit from some extra help, and we want to do all that we can to offer just that.”

Students can learn how to access the portal and learn more about the ARC services available to them at

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Ann Arbor and Wisconsin. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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