Partnership offers free legal services for MCC students

McLennan Community College is teaming up with Greater Waco Legal Services to provide free legal counsel on campus for students.

The partnership, part of MCC’s Title V Grant Project, is meant to increase student success by strengthening supports for low-income students and minority students. From 1 to 5 pm every Thursday at the Student Life Center, attorneys will do intakes and conduct free consultations. Greater Waco Legal Services founder Kent McKeever said if someone needs further representation, the firm will either offer it directly or connect students to other options.

The nearly $3 million grant from the Hispanic-Serving Institution Program of the US Department of Education was awarded to MCC in 2020 and is broken down to about $600,000 per year for five years. The grant program is meant to boost MCC’s ability to create successful outcomes for Hispanic and low-income students. About 34% of MCC students are Hispanic, and about 70% of all MCC students qualify for financial aid.

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MCC’s Title V project includes a few goals for first-time college students:

Increasing the first-year course completion rate to 85%

Bringing the percentage of students who return for a second year, the persistence rate, to 70%

Raising the graduation rate from 20% to 30%

And increasing transfer rates to four-year schools from 13% to 20%.

“Our goals are to enhance the first-year experience and increase our students‘ sense of belonging,” Title V Grant Director Paula Unger said in a press release. “When students have unrelated legal issues, they will have a harder time focusing on their education. We want this new partnership to help alleviate some of that burden.”

McKeever said in providing more direct access to affordable legal services for students the partnership is meant to ease some stress and help

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Woodruff, student legal services, shares priorities at ASMSU meeting

The Associated Students of MSU, or ASMSU, hosted Interim President Teresa Woodruff at its first meeting of the semester.

Her main goal was to convey to the student body that she supports them. She emphasized she hears the students and wants to ensure that the university is as safe and welcoming as it can possibly b.

She spoke on different initiatives that she has been paying attention to in fields such as diversity, equity and inclusion, and relationship violence and sexual misconduct. She said the university would be breaking ground on a new freestanding cultural center on campus.

After her presentation, two attorneys from Student Legal Services shared about the services they offered. Their priority is helping students on campus with legal needs completely free of cost. Their services also as educate students about their own legal issues so they have the skills needed to handle situations on their own own.

“Prior to engaging in our service, almost 80% of students reported moderate,” attorney Brian Jeffries said. “Afterwards 99% of those respondents said they’d better understand their legality issue.”

Student Legal Services can be found in the Student Services Building on the third floor.

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