PSY Academic Advisor Noël R. Lugo Receives 2024 Initiative of the Year Award

May 29, 2024 - Shelly DeJong

A close up portrait of Noël R. Lugo outside. Congratulations to Noël R. Lugo, psychology academic advisor and coordinator of undergraduate diversity programs, on receiving the 2024 Initiative of the Year Award from the Office of Undergraduate Studies within the College of Social Science. This award acknowledges two programs that Lugo launched this year supporting undergraduate students, and honors Lugo’s commitment to student success and initiatives within the college community. 

“Noël Lugo has done a fantastic job at creating new programming for the Psychology Undergraduate Office this year and has really improved our initiatives for our underrepresented and first-gen students,” said Sarah Handspike, director of advising and undergraduate services. “They wanted to reach students where they are at and not make assumptions that they already know how to be successful at college and what needs to be done to further their education after the 4-year degree.” 

Lugo understands the difficulties of navigating higher education. Lugo was a first-generation student who stopped and started school several times before finding support in the McNair Scholars Program, a TRIO program that helps students prepare for doctoral programs. This support was instrumental in helping them navigate the graduate school process and helped show the impact programming can have on nontraditional students. 

The first program that Lugo launched at Michigan State was PSY Academic Coaching (PAC) to support students close to or on academic probation. During individual bi-weekly meetings, Lugo worked closely with students to identify barriers to academic success, set goals, and build academic skills. During the fall 2023 semester, 75% of the students increased their cumulative GPAs and 92% were able to avoid academic probation. 

Next, Lugo introduced the PSY Grad School Series which included over a dozen workshops and presentations aimed at helping students prepare for and navigate the graduate school application process. Drawing from their own extensive TRIO background, Lugo supported many first-generation students who had questions about graduate school. The advising office reported that many students who began in the first sessions continued attending more advanced sessions throughout the semester because they found them so beneficial.  

“It was a joy and honor to watch both PAC and Grad School Series participants walk the stage during Michigan State’s commencement ceremony,” said Lugo. “I’m so proud of these students and I’m grateful to be recognized for the resources I've created to support them.”