UCA Celebrates First-Year Success of BEAR Life Program

BEAR Life program participants on a field trip to Clinton Library.

BEAR Life program participants on a field trip to Clinton Library.

The University of Central Arkansas has announced the successful completion of the first year of the BEAR Life program. This grant-funded initiative has made significant strides in supporting and empowering students, culminating in notable achievements throughout its inaugural year.

The BEAR Life program, designed to foster academic excellence and personal development, welcomed 80 students in its first cohort. These students demonstrated remarkable commitment and resilience, achieving an average GPA of 2.8. This accomplishment reflects the program’s effectiveness in providing the necessary resources and support to help students thrive in their academic pursuits.

Key highlights of the BEAR Life program’s first year include:

  1. Comprehensive Academic Support: Participants received tailored peer and professional coaching, contributing to their academic success.
  2. Holistic Development: The program offered workshops and seminars focused on personal growth, career readiness, and financial literacy, preparing students for success beyond the classroom.
  3. Community Building: BEAR Life fostered a sense of community among participants through team-building activities, peer mentorship, and social events.
  4. Faculty and Staff Engagement: UCA faculty and staff played a crucial role in mentoring and supporting students, creating a nurturing and inclusive environment.

“The success of our first year is a testament to our students’ dedication and our staff’s unwavering support. We are committed to continuing this momentum and expanding our reach to support even more students in the coming years,” said Nadia Eslinger, director of the BEAR Life program.

UCA was awarded a $1.6 million grant through the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) with the U.S. Department of Education to support this new initiative for first-time, low-income students during their first year. Bear Life is a five-year program that aims to decrease the achievement gap in retention and persistence rates for low-income students, improve their academic performance and increase their sense of belonging. Low-income, or Pell grant-eligible, students comprise more than 40% of UCA’s student population annually. 

Eslinger said that looking ahead, the BEAR Life program aims to build on its initial successes by increasing enrollment, enhancing program offerings, and further strengthening its support network for students. The continued support from the SIP grant will enable the program to reach new heights and positively impact the academic journeys of more students at UCA.

Visit BEAR Life to learn more about the program and future initiatives.