High Potential Program
The High Potential (HP) Program sets the standard for excellence and leadership at Saint Mary’s College of California
The High Potential (HP) Program/TRIO Student Support Services provides access to education for dedicated students from traditionally underserved groups in higher education and is designed to foster student success by drawing on the strengths and resiliency of first generation and/or low-income scholars as they transition from high school and beyond.
The High Potential Program/TRIO Student Support Services office is open Monday-Friday from 9 AM- 5 PM. Our services are delivered both in-person and virtually to support the needs and modalities of our students.
HPSS, a TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program is partially-funded by a federal grant ($253,032 per year from 2020-2025) from the U.S. Department of Education.
High Potential Program Details
Success Coaching – All HP students are assigned a dedicated Success Coach in the High Potential program for monthly mandatory individualized coaching sessions to help ensure steady progress toward academic, social, and personal success. Our Coaches hold master's degrees in a counseling-related field.
Workshops/Trainings – HP students are invited to participate in on- and off-campus workshops and trainings that support their academic, professional, and personal growth. These opportunities change each semester based on the current needs of HP students. We offer graduate school info sessions, mental health workshops, career planning, and professional development training.
Priority Registration – All HP students who continue to make academic progress and are in good standing with the program will receive priority/early registration.
Summer Academic Institute for Leaders and Scholars (SAILS) – All incoming first-year HP students are invited to participate in an intensive two-week summer residential program, gaining an opportunity to meet professors, coaches, and peer mentors. The activities and classes focus on academic, psychosocial and cultural development as well as forming a close bond with peers. SAILS is an extremely comprehensive and rewarding experience for first-year students to experience college life before the semester begins, but it is not mandatory. Students who participate in SAILS are better prepared for the upcoming school year.
Peer Mentor Program – First-year and transfer HP students are assigned an HP Peer Mentor. HP Peer Mentors offer academic, personal, and professional support in the form of regular check-ins throughout the students’ first year at Saint Mary’s (transfer students also receive support through a dedicated transfer advising cohort). Students entering their second, third, and fourth year are invited to apply to this paid leadership position. Peer mentors also host “town hall” events to give HP students the opportunity to be involved, learn about offerings, host socials, and provide feedback to the program, as well as facilitate biweekly study group tutoring sessions. Meet the Peer Mentors.
HP First Year Advising Cohort – Incoming first-year HP students enroll in HP FYAC, a one credit course for both fall and spring semesters of their first year. This course, taught by the student’s faculty advisor and HP staff, provides academic support and guidance to set a solid foundation for high academic and personal achievement. Faculty and staff assist students with essential academic skills such as time management, study habits, using campus resources effectively, and tracking self-progress.
FAFSA Guidance & Financial Literacy – All HP students receive support filling out the FAFSA, advocacy from the Office of Financial Aid, and annual financial literacy education workshops.
Tuition Scholarships – HP Students who demonstrate financial need are eligible for grant aid of up to $2,500 per year. Students must be Federal Pell Grant eligible and this award amount is subject to change depending on the students' financial circumstances. This scholarship money is renewable as long as students remain in good academic standing and are actively participating in the HP events.
Moonlight Scholarships - Each year eight HP students- four first-year students and four rising seniors are selected to receive Moonlight Scholarships courtesy of private donors, HP alumni, and two-time Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali ‘96. Moonlight Scholars receive $2,500 (first-years) and $5,000 (rising seniors) in tuition support. Learn more about our current Moonlight Scholars here.
Material Resources - In addition, HP students are eligible to receive textbook scholarships, technology loans, school supplies, food, professional clothes, lending library, and emergency funding.
High Potential Program Staff
Director of High Potential, TRIO SSS
Assumption West 103
Joy Aburquez (she/her)
Associate Director & Lead Success Coach
Assumption West 101
Gaby Bermudez (she/her)
Outreach & Engagement Success Coach
Assumption West 102