“Innovation is messy – you can’t be afraid to get your feet wet or your hands dirty”
Since June of 2013, I have served as the Director of Academic Support Programs and the Holman Success Center (HSC) at Eastern Michigan University. Prior to that time, the HSC originally offered services for Success Coaching, Tutoring, and Supplemental Instruction. During my tenure thus far I am very proud to say that we have expanded those original services to include Peer Mentoring, Academic Skills Workshops, Eagle Study Tables, the Eagle Rewards Program, and complete integration of the UNIV and EDGE Programs. During this expansion of services, we facilitated tremendous growth by nearly tripling the number of students that were previously supported by the HSC. Additionally, it was realized despite consistent budget reductions through aggressive process and procedure streamlining and implementation of custom built, innovative technologies to support our students.
Out-of-the-box thinking is something we make consistent use of and is highly encouraged within the HSC. As an example, we designed, developed and implemented a customized mobile app attendance tracking system that has thus far registered over a quarter of a million attendance scans representing over 300,000 hours of tracked student attendance activity across all of HSC services as well as external departmental campus events. This valuable data has been critical towards numerous engagement and retention studies by providing insights into such metrics as a student’s academic habits and his or her GPA.
Three years ago I came up with a creative solution to mitigate budget reduction impact on our services is a program I created called “Bottles For Books”. This highly successful program was established to provide in-need students with the requisite materials that they may not be able to otherwise afford. Returnable bottle and can receptacles are distributed throughout numerous areas of the campus and the money raised through our collection efforts allow us to purchase commonly needed textbooks for students to check out in our designated study tables area. Each semester, the Holman Success Center purchases nearly $3,000 worth of textbooks that students have indicated a need for through the program.
Another significant achievement that I am most proud of is the 2017 establishment of a scholarship fund (the Edge scholarship) for academically at-risk first-generation students with financial need. My team and I became increasingly frustrated at the number of academically excellent, first-year students who remained at risk of dropping out of college because they cannot afford to enroll. For these hard-working students, an outstanding bill of $500 can be insurmountable. We recognized an ability to make a highly significant impact in some of our student’s lives with minimal financial commitments and were inspired to make this scholarship a reality. In the fall of 2017, we helped 6 students keep their higher education goals alive and remain enrolled at the institution by providing financial support that helped cover outstanding balances from their Fall bills.
Based on the shared vision and collective efforts of myself and the HSC staff, I am honored to say that I was awarded a Distinguished Achievement Recognition Award for Student Engagement and Success. This award recognizes efforts that foster an environment where students have opportunities for purposeful learning and involvement, maximizing their educational goals. It focuses on creating and expanding purposeful learning opportunities outside of the classroom, developing comprehensive and systematic approaches to improve services and processes that enhance student persistence and preparing students to successfully and meaningfully interact with people from diverse backgrounds. All of these ideals represent the core mission of the HSC and we strive to improve our ability to deliver them with each successive semester.