MAY 4, 2022 — Two pennies may not seem like much, but for first-year students in UTSA’s University College, two cents are starting to have a larger meaning.
The Two Cents for Success tradition is centered around two pennies. The first penny symbolizes the wisdom that students have accumulated throughout their lives. The second represents the experiences, ideas, hopes and fears that encompass their “self.” Together, these pennies signify the “two cents” that students will always have to offer and that they will carry with them as they continue through college and through life.
The tradition originated in the university’s Academic Inquiry and Scholarship (AIS) course in 2019. On the final day of classes each semester, a small ceremony takes place where AIS faculty members explain to students the meaning behind Two Cents for Success. Professors then hand out cards that have an inscription of the tradition and two pennies attached.
“The Two Cents tradition follows you throughout your lifetime, providing you with opportunities to succeed by allowing you to receive and offer information you have learned as a student,” said Mehak Marwaha, a senior in the UTSA College of Liberal and Fine Arts and a current peer mentor. “Since my freshman year, I've been able to use the tips and methods that my professor provided me in my AIS class throughout my academic career and beyond.”
As a peer mentor, Marwaha says that she now offers her “two cents” to assist students with challenges similar to her own and directs them to the educational resources available at UTSA to help them complete their degree.
AIS is part of UTSA’s First-Year Experience, a program that is designed to help first-year students have a smooth transition into college and build a foundation for academic success. Throughout the semester, AIS students explore majors related to their interests and engage in career exploration. The class is required for all first-time freshmen students enrolling at UTSA with less than 30 credit hours.
Rebecca Schroeder, associate professor of instruction in the University College, and John Kainer, a former faculty member in the college, created the tradition. As professors at a relatively young university, Schroeder and Kainer recognized that they were in a unique position at UTSA to build new and meaningful traditions from the ground up.
“Traditions are an integral part of college for many students, and they help promote a sense of community by allowing students across the years to have a shared experience,” Schroeder said. “We wanted to start something that would leave AIS students with a strong feeling of belonging and would remind them of all they have learned and accomplished during their first year at UTSA.”
AIS faculty plan to grow the tradition in the future by holding penny collection drives around campus so current Roadrunners can tangibly contribute to the incoming class’ “two cents.” They are also incorporating a virtual message board using Adobe Creative Cloud Express, where AIS students can leave advice for future freshmen to read during their first week of classes. Additionally, Schroeder hopes to eventually expand the Two Cents for Success ceremony.
“Currently, the ceremony occurs either in-person or virtually depending on the class modality,” Schroeder said. “We would love to host an event outside of the classroom that would welcome all AIS students and take the tradition to a new level.”
The University College serves all UTSA undergraduate students by positively impacting undergraduate education, encouraging scholar development through exploratory programs, and promoting lifelong learning through dynamic, engaged curriculum and research. In addition to AIS, the University College includes the Multidisciplinary Studies degree program, the Writing Program, and the Air Force and Army ROTC programs.
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