Support, Opportunities, Advocacy and Resources for Nontraditional Students

The mission of the CASL SOAR program is to increase access to post-secondary education for nontraditional adult learners in the metro area experiencing socioeconomic challenges by providing Support, Opportunities, Advocacy and Resources for returning adult students.

The program facilitates admission to the university using a holistic model and retains admitted students by offering a wide range of academic, financial, and personal support.

In partnership with local human service organizations, the SOAR Program is a tangible representation of the university’s Metropolitan Vision, “to bring the knowledge resources of the university into engagement with the needs of the people of southeastern Michigan.”

It’s never too late to be what you might have been.

- George Eliot

  • About Us

    Research shows that attaining a college degree is one of the most effective ways to increase earnings and improve one’s standard of living. However, attending and graduating from college is not just a tangible way to become economically secure, it also enriches lives, increases self-confidence, and models the importance of education for families and communities.

    The CASL SOAR program provides a pathway for returning adult learners to attend UM-Dearborn who would not be able to do so without the financial and academic support the program offers. Students in SOAR are generally referred to the university by local human service agencies, community organizations, or community colleges. First year SOAR students attend part-time, receive a tuition reduction, and get assistance with purchasing textbooks.  Students also benefit from academic and personal support that continues throughout their tenure as UM-Dearborn students.


    Additional advantages of attending UM-Dearborn as a SOAR student:

    •  Mentoring by peers, faculty, and staff

    •  Specialized academic skills workshops and student support workshops

    •  Assistance with finding and navigating campus and community resources
    • Ongoing collaboration between SOAR students, faculty, and community partners
    • Opportunities for academic enrichment
    •  Engagement with a cohort of other non-traditional adult learners
  • Learning Outcomes

    Engaged SOAR students will:

    • Learn to successfully navigate university systems
    • Identify and utilize university and community resources to enhance and enrich their academic experience
    • Improve reading, writing, note-taking, and exam preparation strategies
    • Become adept at using technology to access and communicate information
    • Enhance communication skills to foster productive relationships with faculty and peers
    • Acquire relevant leadership skills
    • Seek out peer, faculty, staff, and community mentors to build a community of support
    • Set realistic goals for academic progression toward degree completion
    • Develop and implement a career entry or advancement strategy

    Adapted in part from Sedlacek, W. (2004). Beyond the big test: Non-cognitive assessment in higher education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • Staff and Advisory Board

    Lila Amen
    District Community Liaison
    Dearborn Public Schools

    Hoda Amine, Ph.D., LMSW, CSW
    Director of Dearborn Counseling Services

    Lisa Andrews, M.A.
    CASL Advising
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Francine Banner, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor, Sociology
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Suzanne Bergeron, Ph.D. 
    Associate Professor – Social Sciences
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Susan Cushnier, M.A.
    Director, CASL Academic Outreach
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Ivy Forsythe-Brown, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor, Sociology
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Susan Gedert, B.A.
    CASL Marketing and Digital Content Specialist
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Roma Heaney, M.A. (Chair)
    Director, Institutional Research
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Martin J. Hershock, Ph.D. (ex-officio)
    Dean, College of Arts Sciences & Letters
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Ellen Judge-Gonzalez, M.A. (ex-officio)
    Director, SOAR Program
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Lisa Martin, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor 
    Women’s & Gender Studies, Health Policy Studies
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Pam McAuslan, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor 
    Behavioral Sciences – Psychology
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Judith Monroe, M.A.

    Gerald Moran, Ph.D.
    Professor – Social Sciences
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Saleemah Morris
    SOAR Student Representative
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Cheryl Powell, B.S.
    Associate Director – Financial Aid
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Rebecca Richardson
    Program Assistant – SOAR Program
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Britta Roan, M.S.
    Senior Career Counselor
    Career Services
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Trisha Schlaff
    Special Events Manager
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Ofelia Torres
    SOAR Student Representative
    University of Michigan-Dearborn

    Esther Lee Wyatt, M.A. 
    Wayne County Community College

UM-Dearborn SOAR Program
The SOAR program and the staff helped me merge back into campus life.
SOAR student, 2014

SOAR Program

CASL Building
Back to top of page