Kent: All right, from the get-go, when we introduced the TRIO program to the empower™ platform, we didn’t have a designated system. So, I proactively approached Dr. Darica Simon-Baptiste, suggesting we go with empower™. This platform would provide superior data capabilities, making data collection more efficient and effective.
Engaging with my TRIO colleagues, I sought insights into their experiences with various platforms. Patricia’s camaraderie and her openness to innovative ideas drew me in. Her expertise was evident, making empower™ an attractive choice.
Initially, I used a spreadsheet, which was helpful. However, transitioning to empower™ was a game-changer. The platform’s structured database system allowed me to utilize different fields and columns, enhancing my understanding of their importance in the APR.
Terrance Hamm: What features of empower™ stood out to you the most?
Kent: A couple of things stood out. First, the flexibility of accessing the platform remotely was a game-changer. Unlike other platforms, I wasn’t restricted to specific Wi-Fi connections, making it convenient for a nonprofit organization like ours.
As I delved into the platform, the student profile feature amazed me. It provides comprehensive information, from GPAs to demographics and test scores. The sheer amount of data you can input is limitless.
Even the option to add notes, be it from phone calls or text messages, directly into the platform is phenomenal. I find something new every time I use empower™, and I’ve even shared tips with colleagues at other institutions who are also benefiting from the platform.
Terrance Hamm: How has empower™ impacted your program?
Kent: empower™ has significantly streamlined our processes. Initially, we dealt with paper applications, which could be tricky due to errors and missing information. empower™ showcased the application online, highlighting mandatory fields and allowing document uploads. This transition from paper to online had its challenges, like the inability to save applications in progress. After recommendations and discussions, this feature was added, making the application process smoother.
The ability to collect all data in one platform, whether APR or GPAs, has made our operations more efficient. It’s a significant leap forward.
Terrance Hamm: How do you explain empower™ to someone considering using it?
Kent: I describe empower™ as a robust platform that covers everything you need, from online forms to documentation. It handles applications and secondary documentation seamlessly. The user maintenance feature allows staff to edit and comment, providing flexibility.
I also emphasize the excellent support from empower™. Submitting help desk tickets for assistance, whether for day-to-day functions or APR data issues, results in timely and effective responses. A colleague at a state university has experienced this support firsthand.
During a first-generation-to-college celebration, my colleague shared her positive experiences with empower™. We’ve since collaborated, and I’ve guided her through making changes to the APR and other functionalities. Using empower™ is proving invaluable as we navigate our new program.