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OJC Press Release ID: 3083

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

New Staff Hired for Title V AIM Grant


Otero Junior College was awarded a $2.9 million grant from the United States Department of Education that will support the College’s efforts to increase college readiness and success of students, especially those of Hispanic descent and low income students over the next five years.

Shawn Japhet, AIM Grant Project Director, came to OJC as a tutor in 2005. Over her 16 years at OJC, she has been a tutor, Director of Student Success Center and Disability Services and most recently the Educational Resource and Disabilities Services Specialist. She is an alumni of OJC and received her Bachelor of Science in Applied Management from National American University.

Japhet is very excited about the opportunity afforded by the AIM grant of connecting OJC students with a mentor to guide and provide resources for student success. The addition of a case manager and new methods of providing orientation to empower students in their first year at OJC is another perk of the AIM Grant. The AIM Grant focuses on student success including retention and completion.

Japhet loves spending time with her family, participating in outdoor activities, watching athletic events and crafting.

Bree-ann Carwin has been selected as the Retention Specialist. She will be responsible for orientations, student success workshops, building college readiness, career fairs and job placement.

A graduate of Oklahoma Panhandle State University, Carwin majored in Agriculture Education with a minor in Agronomy. Originally from Pritchett, she appreciates and understands the importance of rural schools. The one-on-one interactions for student success is incomparable. Some goals she has are to reach and encourage as many students as possible to achieve their goals and career dreams as well as boost student engagement, progress and success.

Carwin stated, “OJC’s mission involves transforming lives, and expanding employment opportunities. I believe in what OJC stands for and am excited to have a positive impact on students as well as broaden their knowledge on career opportunities.”

In her spare time, Carwin enjoys spending quality time with her family while working on their family ranch. She is very excited to be a part of the OJC team and OJC is grateful to have her.

Melanie Culver will be the Mentoring Coordinator for the AIM Grant. Some of her responsibilities will be to recruit students to participate in the mentoring programs, assisting students find faculty mentors and tracking all the data associated with that.

Culver is a graduate of the University of Maryland – College Park. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre with a Design emphasis. She has experience working in the 16th Judicial District Attorney’s office, as a financial officer, in human resources and as a manager.

In her spare time, Culver, makes color guard costumes for the Rocky Ford marching band, sews masks, ear-saving headbands for nurses and instrument covers for band members. She is married with two sons. She also enjoys hiking, reading and cooking.

“I love having the opportunity to help students succeed at college,” Culver said. “I hope to be able to provide support for those that don’t have it and help increase retention and graduation rates.”

Julie McClure, AIM Grant Case Manager, is a welcome addition to the crew. Her primary roles will be to help develop student support programming, hold one-on-one meetings with students, provide student counseling sessions as needed and assist with project reporting, data collection, maintaining participant records and monitoring their progress.

McClure was born in Phoenix, Ariz. but graduated high school in northern California. She has lived in the Arkansas Valley since 2010. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Colorado State University – Fort Collins, and a Master’s of Education in Occupational Therapy from Springfield College. She had been working in health care as an occupational therapist before coming to OJC. She is excited to work with the students and hopes to have a welcoming space for them to be in.

In addition to her full-time job, McClure loves spending time outdoors with her family, a husband and two children. They love camping and fishing in the summer. She also enjoys running and loves animals, especially her chickens.

The AIM Grant award will be funded by the Department of Education’s Title V Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions program (DHSI). Otero Junior College has been a designated Hispanic Serving Institution since 2001, with over 38% of the College’s student population being of Hispanic descent. The funds from this institutional development grant will be used to cultivate programs so that OJC can better serve all its students and increase performance outcomes.

If you have questions about the AIM Grant or the services provided, please contact program director, Shawn Japhet at 719-384-6862 or email her at

Press Release Photo
Pictured are (l-r): Bree-ann Carwin, Shawn Japhet, Melanie Culver and Julie McClure (on the screen below). This photo is a sign of the times and captures the adventures that we manage day in and day out. These ladies have been hired to work on the Title V AIM Grant recently awarded to OJC by the Department of Higher Education.