Carol Robinson (far right), graduate counseling student, discusses the challenges of academic life. Listening in are (from left) Dominque McPherson, English major; Wilma Calvert, assistant professor of nursing; Priscilla Dowden-White, associate professor of history; Jennifer Culver, graduate counseling student and Anglea Coker, associate professor of counseling and family therapy. (Photo by Jen Hatton)

After transferring to the University of Missouri–St. Louis, Cheryl House found refuge in a SisterScholars-in-Training group. The group lead by Angela Coker, associate professor of counseling and family therapy at UMSL, is a support group for American American female students at UMSL.

“It’s been a place I can come to ask questions, find resources and talk about what issues I’m facing in classes or just in general,” said House, an accounting major.

SisterScholars meets from 12:30 to 2 p.m. every Thursday in 313 Millennium Student Center at UMSL. It is an open support group where students come together to work on academic and personal goals as they move toward degree attainment. Lunch is provided and the group is open to both undergraduate and graduate students.

“It is more than a retention initiative, it is about helping women develop an intellectual identity as scholars,” Coker said. “It’s about not just going through school, but having school go through them. In the group we talk about conducting research, career goals and understanding the politics and nature of navigating through higher education.”

Other weekly topics have included managing stress, multiple responsibilities and accessing campus support services. The group also serves as a vehicle for mentoring students. Several faculty and staff members attend the meetings and share their expertise with students.

SisterScholars, which has existed at UMSL for three years, is funded by the UMSL Graduate School and Chi Sigma Iota and is supported by the Department of Counseling and Family Therapy in the College of Education. Education doctoral students Carol Robinson and Jennifer Culver assist in facilitating SisterScholars.

Visit the Sister Scholar Facebook page or email Coker at for more information.

The UMSL Experience

Jen Hatton

Jen Hatton