All students need a bit of extra help from time to time in order to set their plans into action and achieve their goals. Academic success, especially within the highly work-intensive environment of New College, can feel unreachable and fleeting. Stress builds up quickly and reaching out for help can sometimes seem difficult, if not impossible. This is exactly where Anjali Cadena, Director of Student Success Programs at New College’s brand new Student Success Center (SSC), aims to step in and make a lasting difference in students’ lives.
The SSC was created with the intention of providing students with three main services: the development of academic skills, an increase in feelings of belonging and connection to the academic arena and guided experience through academic peer coaching. While this office will work alongside the Center for Engagement and Opportunity (CEO) and shares similar, student-supporting goals, the two are distinct success-driven systems that provide New College students with different yet complementary resources.
While the CEO primarily provides students with information and services regarding career planning, internships, research opportunities and professional skill development, the SSC wants to focus on helping students out with setting and maintaining academic goals, accessing support services when needed, becoming more engaged with course materials and getting involved on campus in a healthy and purposeful way. There are four major categories that the SSC’s actions will fall under: college skills support (study skills, time management, minimizing stress, setting goals, etc.), bringing institutional resources to the student (connecting students to the library, Writing Resource Center, Counseling and Wellness Center and other similar services), navigating transitions (attending to students during transitional times such as orientation, thesis year and graduation) and inclusion (welcoming students of all identities, abilities, backgrounds and circumstances).
In addition to working closely with the CEO, the SSC will also be deeply connected to Student Disabilities Services (SDS) at New College.
“Both offices fall within the umbrella of the Department of Student Success and Advocacy, under one director and part of the same team,” Cadena said in an email interview. “[SDS] is also extending its services to maintaining the success needs of our students as another central priority of its work. Finally, the office of SDS will begin to involve more students in a peer support role to meet the social and support needs of students with disabilities through programming, advocacy etc.”
Cadena believes that by making the SSC a new and important component of the services available to students who have been granted accommodations through SDS, students will be able to receive more personalized and consistent support from the college.
“Our work with students with disabilities does not focus on granting/facilitating their accommodations only,” Cadena said. “We [want to] create a coordinated network of services that considers the success needs of individual students.”
Cadena, who joined New College as the Director of Student Success Programs on Apr. 29, 2019, believes in the school’s potential to improve the lives of students who face difficulties achieving academic success.
“This was the only position I applied for because of the forward thinking vision that at New College we seek to make clear and supported paths for every student to succeed in college,” Cadena said. “This commits us to regard every student as an individual with names, circumstances, accomplishments and goals.”
In the past few months, Cadena has worked with a dedicated team to get the SSC up and ready to run. Case Manager Regina Rodarte will fill the role of supporting students in stressful circumstances. She will help manage setbacks they may be dealing with and make sure they can get back on track with as little difficulty as possible. Kaylie Stokes, Assistant Director of Student Success Programs, will help students set individualized goals and learn the skills they need to succeed in a college environment. The SSC will also have two assistant directors of disability services who will assist students with disabilities through approving and facilitating accommodations and providing success skills and strategies. Joe Mayer holds one of these positions while the other remains unfilled.
Last but certainly not least, the SSC is currently working with several New College students as Student Project Managers who will help launch the center and design a student coach position. Transfer student and Catalyst staff writer Kali-Ray Skinner has been working closely with Cadena and Stokes as a Student Project Manager and is excited about the work that she has been doing bringing the SSC to life.
“It’s a really great opportunity for me to learn about program development and work in a team,” Skinner said. “Plus Anjali and Kaylie are really incredible individuals who I feel very proud to be working under. All of us are very passionate about the Student Success Center and the Student Disabilities Office.”
Although the SSC is not open quite yet, Cadena hopes to see it in action in the very near future and is ready to start providing students with services that will improve their quality of life at New College.
“Soon we will officially launch the Student Success Center with trained peers and well-organized, curated resources offered in an office with a fun, upbeat, welcoming, informal vibe!” Cadena said.
Information for this article was gathered from ncf.edu.