Average 6-year graduation rates for engineering students at our large, public engineering institution are 64%. 6-year graduation rates for underrepresented minority students and first-generation students are 44% and 53% respectively, well below our college average. Many programs currently exist with the goal of improving student persistence and retention. In order to “crack the retention code”, this large engineering institution is hoping to determine not only the main causes of students leaving engineering, but also what causes a student to stay. In the spring of 2017, the diversity center in the College began a project to capture stories of graduating seniors and student leaders. During this NAMEPA presentation, we will present several student stories and break them down to the critical factors that led to student success. One theme that will be highlighted is the power of students supporting other students, both formally through near-peer mentoring, and also informally through student society interaction and empowerment.