23 Baltimore City high school graduates seeking success, support through TU4Balt

New program plans to increase retention and graduation rates of Baltimore City students at TU

By JAMIE ABELL on August 16, 2023

Group of students in TU4Balt cohort pose for a photo in the University Union.
Students in the first cohort of TU4Balt pose at first-year orientation. (Photo credit: Alex Wright | Towson University)]

During orientation in July, the first TU 4 Baltimore City Scholarship and Program Fund (TU4Balt) cohort spent all day on campus getting a feel for what college life is like at Towson University. Funded by a donor, scholarships and financial aid, TU4Balt provides an intensive first-year residential experience for students who may otherwise not have the opportunity to pursue their higher education goals.

The 23 students will get to know each other well in the next few weeks, moving into their living community early and spending time at an intensive math bootcamp. With orientation over, they’re ready to get started.

“I’m excited to take advantage of all the opportunities that Towson University has to offer,” says CoCo Sanchez, a graduate of Patterson High School. “I really want to create good relationships with friends and professors.”

Ashley Pintor, another Patterson High School grad, is excited for the independence college life brings and becoming part of the marching band.

During orientation, Vernon Hurte, vice president of student affairs, let the group know Towson University is their academic home and encouraged them to embrace everything. “We’re rooting for you, and we’re going to challenge you,” he said.

Students in TU4Balt have varying academic interests, ranging from forensic science to business administration to molecular biology.

“I picked Towson University for its diversity, not only in people but in courses and subjects offered,” says Merlin Watson, a graduate from Western High School. “I’m going to minor in deaf studies because there’s always room for more ASL interpreters in the world, but I am also excited to major in molecular biology with a forensic focus. I love true crime.”

Students in this program will experience additional support services, including a dedicated academic adviser, Robert Karp, who will meet with each student regularly to help with the transition from high school to university life.

“Having spent close to 18 years at TU, I want to pass on all the incredible experiences I've had," says Karp, manager of student advising technology in the Office of Academic Advising, Retention and Completion. “By working together, I feel confident I can help each one thrive in their studies. My goal is to offer guidance, advice and support as they begin their academic journey.”

Members of the cohort have goals they’re excited to achieve during their first year at TU that will position them for future success.

“I want to set up a really good academic schedule right away, so I can get my work done and avoid procrastination” says Pintor. “At the end of the academic year, I want to be prepared for interviews and participating in programs to develop leadership skills.”

And, with only one day under their belt on campus, Watson noted, “I want to be ready for a career when I graduate.”