UPIKE’s ACE (Academic and Cultural Enrichment) Program can help you by providing comprehensive student support from orientation to graduation. ACE is a federally-funded TRIO program focusing on the success of first-generation students, ACE’s goal is to improve student academic performance and increase retention and graduation rates while educating students on the importance of financial wellness. 

ACE meets this goal by offering students a wide range of services, including: 


  • Academic and transitional skills coaching 
  • Academic counseling and tutoring 
  • Financial counseling and literacy 
  • Peer mentoring 
  • Study skills development 


  • FAFSA renewal assistance 
  • Goal setting 
  • Major and career exploration 


  • Career fair opportunities 
  • Mock interviews 
  • Occupational etiquette 
  • Resume writing 


  • Graduate school application assistance 
  • Post-graduation career planning 
  • Post-graduation financial planning 

Additional services 

  • Laptops available for student use in-office 
  • Scientific and graphing calculator check out program 
  • Two private meeting/study rooms 
  • Free print/copy/fax/phone service 
  • Grant aid 
  • Jump-start transition program 
  • Personal counseling and referral service 

Application Information

The ACE Program offers a variety of support services and programs aimed at helping eligible students excel in college. To be accepted to the ACE program, you must meet at least one of the following criteria:

1.     Be a first-generation college student (neither parent has a bachelor’s degree)
2.     Meet income guidelines (determined each year by the U.S. Department of Education)
3.     Be a student with a disability

Please note: all ACE participants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and be enrolled or accepted at UPIKE for the upcoming semester.

As an ACE participant, you’ll spend approximately six hours each semester participating in program requirements.  You can utilize ACE as much as you need.

After completing the intake process to become a member of ACE, you will be a member for the remainder of your career at UPIKE. Students will be required to meet each semester with the Academic Coordinator to engage in academic planning and goal setting to help ensure they make timely progress toward graduation.

Ace Application


Newly enrolled ACE participants will have the advantage of being assigned an upperclassmen as a peer mentor to help them navigate the processes and experiences associated with being a first-generation college freshman.  Mentors and students will build a relationship that will enhance the ACE participant’s first year experience.  


Every November 8th, the ACE Program spotlights ACE students during the National First-Generation Celebration Day with a series of events including a dinner for students, faculty, and staff who identify as first-generation.  ACE collaborates with campus offices to provide activities showcasing our first-generation students throughout the day.  Through this initiative, ACE encourages the campus community to understand the barriers first-generation students encounter on their journey to earning a college degree.  By involving the campus community, ACE helps students find advocates from every department so they feel supported and understood.   

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ACE invites all newly enrolled first-year ACE participants to apply to participate in the JUMP START program held every year one week prior to UPIKE FIRST WEEK activities and requirements.  Twenty-five commuter and residential students are selected to get a jump start on their college success by moving into their assigned dorm room early (if applicable).  Students participate in activities designed to assist in getting a jump start on meeting faculty and staff, making new friends, building a connection with their peer mentor, and completing the freshman service project early.   Scan the QR Code below to apply:

Ace Alumni Events

The ACE program annually invites alumni that graduated from UPIKE and the ACE program back to campus to spend time with current ACE students. Below are some photos from past events.


LEADS Initiative

Leadership Engagement Achievement Development Service

ACE participants can also apply for membership in the Leadership Engagement Achievement Development Service (LEADS) Initiative. As a LEADS participant you’ll have the opportunity to meet community leaders in business, education, government and healthcare. LEADS focuses on supporting you in becoming a leader at UPIKE and in your community, while instilling you with a sense of belonging. All activities and workshops are designed to enhance your personal character and develop self-esteem to help you succeed in life and your future career.

  • Become more connected with their community
  • Build valuable interview skills
  • Create professional resumes
  • Develop professional connections to community leaders and organizations
  • Engage in volunteer service opportunities to foster a spirit of giving back
  • Learn about the community and gain knowledge of available career options
  • Obtain job shadowing experience
  • Receive professional attire to use for interviews

Student Testimonial

“I have enjoyed ACE so much during the past three years. ACE has helped me in so many ways with guiding my studies and providing support through difficult situations. ACE is where I have made most of my friends. ACE is my second family.”



Cecil Williams

(606) 218-5717

headshot of cecil williams

Shena Shepherd

Project Coordinator
(606) 218-5718

Kay Burke

Academic Coordinator
(606) 218-5719