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Awards and family: SALT Center events for Family Weekend

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Sofia Moraga | The Daily Wildcat Oscar Lugan mans the front desk of the SALT Center located on 2nd St. and Highland Ave.

The Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques Center will hold its 26th annual Family Weekend Celebration and Awards Ceremony and the first Freshman Parent Breakfast on Friday, Oct. 5.

According to Miller, Family Weekend is important to SALT Center because it is a good opportunity to involve and reunite families, especially because families play an important role in the community.

Recognized and awarded

The Awards Ceremony will recognize and honor “students’ achievement, their engagement, and their persistence,” according to the SALT Center director Gabrielle Miller. The ceremony will also honor partners and donors.

In the ceremony, students are given awards if they demonstrated “something special.” The awards were picked by the learning specialists who advise students.

Hannah Harper is one of the students who received an award last semester. When she asked a learning specialist how she could get an award, the specialist said to her, “We have to recognize you. We have to see you overcome something or show something positive in you.”

Miller said they have some different awards to give to different types of students, for example, awards for active students and independent learners. 

One unique award is Michelle Combs Award. This award was created a few years ago to honor a graduate who died from a motorcycle crash. 

“She had a tremendous spirit,” Miller said. “She was adventurous, excited, goal-oriented, focused student.”

Students who are recognized as having the same spirit as Combs get the award. Combs’ father, who is from northern California, will be in attendance at the ceremony.

Breakfast and family

The Freshman Parent Breakfast is a new event hosted by Mickey and Sheryl Haas, an alumnus and his wife who used to have a student in the program, according to SALT Center marketing specialist Isaac Flater.

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As both, an alumnus and a parent, Mickey Haas and his wife have a unique perspective. They would like to provide opportunities for parents to meet other parents, exchange information and support each other, according to Flater.

Mickey Haas also continues to be very involved with the SALT Center, serving on the SALT Center Alumni Board. 

“He, himself, went through the SALT Center and has remained very, very active in supporting the university,” Miller said. “And now he has a unique perspective as both alumnus and a parent of a current student. So he is very excited to be hosting this event and he is also connected to our alumni advisory group. So we are delighted he and his wife are hosting the event.”

Mickey and Sheryl Haas live in Maine and have two sons attending the UA.

An in-depth look at the SALT Center

SALT Center has provided fee-based support to undergraduate students who have challenges studying by themselves for almost 40 years. Students need to apply once to enroll and they pay each semester to be in the program. 

“All of us learn differently, all of our brains function very differently,” Miller said. “Students who come to the SALT Center tend to know or understand a little bit more about how they learn best, and so we help them be successful here at the University of Arizona.”

Although it depends on individuals, most students apply when they enter the UA and spend two semesters with the support of SALT Center.

“Every story is different, and we like to support students, whoever they are, and help their events,” Miller said. “Most of our students are freshmen and sophomores, but we have a number of upper-division students, too.”

Approximately 700 students are in the SALT support program this semester and studying with learning experts and technologies. 

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Each student needs different support. For example, some students have formal diagnoses of learning disabilities, while other students do not. 

Learning experts meet with students once a week and deal with academic troubles together. Also, tutors with certification help students.

Harper, a sophomore, has used the program for a year. She has used Macs, tutor appointments, specialized classes, and the reading lab.

Moreover, she says she is “a visual learner, and the SALT Center helped her understand materials easier, using their equipment and technology.”

“It was very helpful. It just helped me understand it more,” Harper said. 

The SALT Center also has partnerships with other campus units including Rec Center. The SALT Center especially has strong connections with THINK TANK and the UA Thrive Center because those three are a part of a campus team, called Student Success and Retention Innovation.

For example, if students at the SALT Center need extra help, they may go to THINK TANK for more resources and vice versa. 

Another mission of the SALT Center is to provide as many scholarship opportunities as possible. They work hard with foundations and other donors to financially help their students.

“We have a lot of alumni and families who recognize the support their student received from the SALT Center and want to give back and help other students,” Miller said. “So many students receive scholarships, and that’s a big part of what we do, is the help to raise money, so that anyone who wants to come to SALT Center at any time, the money isn’t an issue.”

According to Miller, although most students enroll in the program for their first fall semester, current UA students can apply now for admittance next year.

For more information, visit the official UA SALT Center website.


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