University of Delaware
Chanel Gaither has established the Minorities Achieving Collegiate Success organization.

Higher ed advocate

Recent alumna runs Minorities Achieving Collegiate Success nonprofit


4 p.m., May 30, 2013--In many ways, Chanel Gaither’s name is synonymous with the nonprofit she started. 

“It’s been a really great resource,” says Synclaire Oglesby, an Honors Program student and biological sciences major from Wilmington, Del., speaking of the Minorities Achieving Collegiate Success (MACS) program. “Ms. Chanel has been my mentor throughout. She understands where I come from.” 

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The first in her family to attend college, recent master of public administration alumna Chanel Gaither created MACS to help others like her navigate all aspects of the college process, from selecting a school, to applying for financial aid, to meeting admissions deadlines, to ultimately thriving once on campus.

Launched in 2004 and incorporated in 2008, the program has worked with scores of high school students from Delaware, and all of them have eventually gone on to college.

Thirty MACS graduates are currently in college -- nearly half at the University of Delaware -- and more than a dozen have already earned their undergraduate degrees. Two alums are currently in graduate programs at other institutions. 

This fall, five MACS students will be attending UD, all pursing education in science, engineering and medical disciplines: three in engineering, one in nursing and one through the Associates in Arts Program, with plans to study speech pathology. 

“Parents really see me and MACS as their child’s advocate,” says Gaither. “Most of the families I worked with have never been through this process before, so my goal is to help them at every step.”

This includes a range of opportunities -- SAT prep, visits to regional colleges, trips to college fairs, assistance with the Common Application, help on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and frequent check-ins with students after they matriculate. 

A recent graduate of the School of Public Policy and Administration’s master’s in public administration program with a focus in education policy, Gaither has worked with UD’s ASPIRE program to give prospective students early exposure to UD. She also served as a research assistant for the McNair Scholars, helping prepare current minority and first-generation students for graduate study. 

Gaither hopes to apply her education and experience to growing the MACS program into something that could one day become a national model. 

“I think college access is one of the greatest issues of our day,” she says. “I want to do my part to help as many students achieve collegiate success as I can.”

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