Residence Life has created two social support groups for historically underrepresented students living on campus.

With a financial boost from a $25,000 college completion grant, the Department of Residence Life created two new programs to help Hispanic and African-American students living on campus feel more comfortable and confident with their college experience.

About 3,000 Hispanic and 500 African-American students live on campus, and many are the first in their families to attend college.

The Department of Residence Life, part of the Division of Student Affairs, used the grant to create Aggie Familia and AFAM. During activities scheduled every three weeks, student and staff mentors interact with new students to answer questions about the challenges they may be facing.

“The idea is to create new Aggie families,” said Carol Binzer, director of administrative and support services in the Department of Residence Life. “We are creating networks in which students feel safe enough to ask some challenging questions instead of toughing it out on their own.”

During the fall 2017 semester, 242 students participated in the programs and 26 student-mentor pairs were created. Just over 59 percent of those students returned for one or more programs.

“The idea is to create new Aggie families. We are creating networks in which students feel safe enough to ask some challenging questions instead of toughing it out on their own.”

Carol Binzer, Director of Administrative and Support Services in the Department of Residence Life

Tiana Okonkwo, a lecturer with the TAMU libraries, is an AFAM program mentor who shares experiences with students. 

Mentors include other students, faculty and staff members who had similar experiences at Texas A&M. Tiana Okonkwo ’90, visitors and tours coordinator for Texas A&M University Libraries, is an AFAM mentor who has a daughter studying at Mays Business School. Okonkwo knows what many underrepresented students are going through at Texas A&M, since she was one herself. She attended the first AFAM gathering last year.

“The ice-breaker activities, for example, really helped me connect with a student because she had a specific question.” Okonkwo said. “I was able to follow up on her question through email, which gave me another chance to get to know her, and we’ve stayed in touch since then.”

Okonkwo went the extra mile to find the student’s email, answer her question, and create a lasting and mutually beneficial connection. All the Aggie Familia and AFAM mentors show the same Aggie values of selfless service.

In total 27 events have been hosted with 973 students attending.

If you are a student or faculty member interested in getting involved with Aggie Familia or AFAM, contact Carol Binzer at for more information.

Related Res Life Events for Spring 2017

University-Wide Scholarship Writing Workshops
1/23/2018 from 5:30p.m.– 6:30p.m. in Evans Annex 405A
1/24/2018 from 5:30p.m – 6:30p.m. in Evans Annex 405A

CLEAR Relationships
Feb. 13 from 6:30 p.m.– 7:30 p.m., White Creek Modular Conference Building #2 – 0063 (West Campus)

Know and Use your Learning Style
March 7 from 6 p.m.– 7 p.m., Hullabaloo Hall 117A

Family Weekend Reception
April 13 from 6:30 p.m.– 8 p.m., University Club (11th Floor Rudder Tower)

 End-of-the-Year Celebration
April 25 from 6 p.m.– 7:30 p.m., White Creek Community Center Multipurpose Room
Carol Binzer talking with an AFAM student

Carol Binzer, a longtime member of the Residence Life staff  and AFAM mentor, shares her experiences with a new student living on campus.

Department of Residence Life

We offer Texas A&M University students a world-class, on-campus student living and learning experience by providing welcoming, educational, and sustainable community living. The Department of Residence Life is a department within the Division of Student Affairs comprised of more than 60 full-time staff and more than 180 graduate and undergraduate student staff.
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Story and photos by Athlyn Allen ’19
Division of Student Affairs Marketing Intern