Lyons calls her efforts the FAB Initiative — for Find, Assist, Believe. Don’t look for pricey FAB stationery, though. Lyons is the initiative.

The speech and theater professor says Howard University, Spelman College, and other historically black institutions have impressive records in connecting their students with fellowships and internships, and a few years ago she decided, “I want Albany State to get into that mix.”

She started by looking for opportunities for her theater students, but soon found excellent prospects in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, too. She knew a cross section of students from her public-speaking class and simply from being, by all accounts, a campus extrovert. By the time she was appointed head of the honors program, a year ago, she’d earned a reputation, on campus and off, as an academic

“Working hand-in-hand with students is a good strategy, as it’s part of the learning process,” Gasman says of Lyons’s intensive coaching.

To scale up the FAB process at other colleges, Lyons says the key ingredients are devoted mentors willing to put in at least four hours of work with each student on his or her essays. If that seems like unnecessary hand holding, Lyons says, it pays off. Those students not only can approach the next application process more confidently and independently, but also can serve as peer-editing mentors themselves.