WT Connect Coaches Program Offers New Students the Inside Track

Chip Chandler Aug 03, 2022
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WT Connect Coaches Program Offers New Students the Inside Track

Copy by Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,


CANYON, Texas — Every new student enrolling at West Texas A&M University for the upcoming fall semester has a new on-ramp to campus life, thanks to a dedicated squad of University representatives.

In WT’s new Connect Coach program, a group of more than 70 WT staff members, as well as some faculty and graduate assistants, are paired with each student taking part in WT’s New Student Orientation events.

On the second day of each orientation session, the Connect Coaches walk the students through a checklist of critical steps to take—not only academically, but also find their place socially at WT, said Amber Black, assistant vice president for student enrollment, engagement and success.

“Our coaches are working to set these students up for success,” Black said. “Students need to know someone on campus has their back.”

Each student taking part in New Student Orientation is asked to fill out a survey before they arrive on campus that asks them what they do for fun, where their strengths were in high school and, most importantly, asks them what they want to experience in college.

Nine out of 10 of them want to make new friends and have a full social experience, Black said. Research shows that students who have made a new friend by their third week in school are more likely to persist and graduate. Likewise, research shows that students who do something meaningful at least once a week helps them feel like they belong on campus.

“We know from the groundbreaking study of validation theory by Dr. Laura Rendón that we need to enable our students, especially minority or first-generation students,” Black continued. “Someone needs to tell you that you can do this, that you are welcome. I was a first-generation student myself, and I remember wishing that someone would pick me to take part in something instead of knowing that I needed to put myself out there and just show up. Our Connect Coaches will help our new students make that leap themselves.”

Connect Coaches also reiterate other important aspects of student orientation, including how to purchase parking permits and order textbooks; how to find meaningful campus employment opportunities; how to secure child care; and more.

Ensuring student success is a primary mission of the University’s long-range plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

That plan is fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive fundraising campaign. To date, the five-year campaign — which publicly launched Sept. 23 — has raised about $110 million.


Photo: Mike Knox, West Texas A&M University vice president for enrollment management, works with incoming freshman Javier Mendoza of Dimmitt. Mendoza, who'll major in mechanical engineering, took part in the Connect Coaches program during a recent New Student Orientation. 


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 59 undergraduate degree programs and more than 40 graduate degrees, including two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.