When advising matters, faculty is there

Dr. Teanna Staggs
Guest blogger

With new limitations on the length of time that students are eligible for financial aid, never before has advising been so important. In 2009, the San Antonio College Biology Department embarked on a process that has now become a college-wide endeavor. We decided that student advising for our discipline was best placed in the hands of the faculty who specialize in a plethora of Biology sub-specialties.

A self-contained advising system was developed with the help of a talented programmer. Today, almost the entire department is trained on the system. In conjunction with the new Alamo GPS software and six newly revised degree plans, every faculty advisor now carries an advising load of students.
Here’s how it works: Students sign up for advising in the department by providing us with vital information that is entered into the system. Once entered, students are sorted by their chosen degree plan. For example, if the student is pursuing an AS in Nutrition, he will be paired with a nutrition professor. If a student is pursuing a pre-med or other professional degree, she will be paired with one of our pre-medical advisors. At that point the professor will email the student to set up an appointment for advising.

It is important the student brings copies of transcripts for any coursework not currently showing up in the ACES or GPS transcript. Our program will capture all coursework from the ACES transcript and populate a one-page spreadsheet to create a degree audit. The program also identifies any missing coursework the student needs to complete the degree. This is why the transcripts are important. If the courses are not in ACES, we can manually enter those courses and provide Admissions and Records with proof of course equivalency where appropriate.

At that point, we track our students by meeting with them at least once per semester to update their progress and make sure they are following the most efficient path toward graduation. Upon completion of the path, we complete the graduation paperwork and submit it for the student.

Students: Do you know the difference between the AS in Biology with a Pre-Nursing emphasis and the AAS in Nursing? We do.
Do you know which pre-requisite courses are shared among all Texas medical, dental and veterinary schools? We do.
Do you know which universities absolutely will not accept chemistry courses taken during a summer session? We do.

Dr. Teanna Staggs is the chair of San Antonio College Natural Sciences Department, which includes Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry and Earth Science programs.


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T-STEM Scholarships will award $170,000

There is a huge problem in this country with students NOT choosing majors within the sciences. Because of a grant which provides students with scholarship money, SAC is making it a little bit easier for students to award students for majoring in STEM.

Through the T-STEM grant, San Antonio College aims to award 68 students with a scholarship valued at $2,500 each for a whopping grand total of $170,000 just for SAC students! Currently, about 35 SAC students have applied for the scholarships. “We’ll go until we give them all out,” said Angela Stewart, T-STEM liaison. She continued to explain, “If the other four Alamo Colleges don’t award every one of their 68 scholarships, we stand ready to find an eligible SAC student that can use the money.”

Stewart also said, “The most important step in the application process is to provide an official high school transcript.” Remember, if you don’t apply, you don’t even have a shot. Eligible students are encouraged to apply at www.secure.alamo.edu/scholarship/application.aspx, but if a student already completed an Alamo Colleges Scholarship Application then he/she will be automatically considered.

Alamo Colleges and SAC faculty and staff go above and beyond to find opportunities for students to be successful. It is important to us that we give our students a push in the right direction. If this scholarship money can make all the difference for even one student, then it is worth all the time and effort. 

Any current or incoming student who has declared a major in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) instructional program or specific Allied Health program, and has a minimum GPA of 3.0 in high school math and science courses is eligible to apply.

The student must agree to complete 30 hours in the 2012-2013 academic year (Fall, Spring, Summer), and must complete 80 percent of coursework per semester. Additionally, males between the ages of 18 and 25 must be registered with the Selective Service System.

So, if you know anyone that should apply, tell them to get on the ball! And, if you are a student yourself, DOOOOOOO IT already! A list of eligible majors is below.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Eligible majors include:


Biology (including Biology/Pre-nursing, Pre-Med, Pre-Dental, Pre-Pharmacy, Pre-Veterinary)

Computer Programmer

Computer Support Specialist

Computer Database Specialist

Information Security and Assurance

CADD Civil Design


Cisco Certified Network Associate

Computer Desktop Support Technician

Computer Forensic

Computer programing intermediate

Computer support specialist

Drafting/design engineering technologies

Information Technology and Security academy (ITSA)

Dental Assisting/Assistant

Dental Laboratory Technology/Technician

Emergency Medical Technician

Engineering: All types…Chemical Engineering, Aerospace, Architectural, Civil, Computer, Mechanical, etc.

Engineering Technology

Geological and Earth Sciences


Medical Assisting

Physical Sciences


(*Note: Nursing is NOT an eligible major for T-STEM Scholarships).