On the road to success: Summit helps students find their way at Rowan

On the road to success: Summit helps students find their way at Rowan

Rowan's first Student Success Summit helped students learn about abundant resources available to them. Helping students on the road to success are (from left) Denisha Lucio, Ereaunna LaCava, Cole Evans and Makenzie Rey.

Utilize campus resources. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Take care of your physical and mental health. Get involved. Embrace learning. Find your “why.”

Those were some of the takeaways for nearly 70 Rowan University students who attended the first-ever Student Success Summit, presented by Student Support Services and Accessibility Services.

Held in Savitz Hall, the day-long summit brought together professionals from across the Glassboro campus, who outlined resources available to students—from success coaching and career advancement to tutoring, accessibility services, mental health services and more.

“Build relationships with everyone in this room,” Bob Bullard, assistant vice president for professional success, told students in his morning keynote address. “I haven’t met anyone at Rowan who doesn’t want the best for you. We want to empower you and we are excited to see all the awesome things you will do.”

Empowerment was the vibe of the day as students moved from session to session, meeting with campus professionals in small, friendly groups.

Greg BirenEngaged learners

In a session on learning how to learn, Greg Biren (at right), chair of the Department of Health & Exercise Science in the School of Nursing & Health Professions, said successful students are active, engaged learners who embrace intellectual challenges.

“Your teachers are here because they want you to be successful,” said Biren. “Make sure you’re continuing to put the effort into learning. Be active and really think about what your professor is teaching. I challenge my students because I care.”

Mental health hygiene

A few doors down in Savitz Hall, in a session focusing on mental health hygiene, Brittany Auleta, coordinator for Healthy Campus Initiatives in the Wellness Center, urged students to focus on making mental health a priority. She shared tips for doing that, including meditation, deep breathing, and having an attitude of gratitude.

“Putting ourselves first is one of the hardest things we all struggle with,” Auleta said as she urged students to write down a small, tangible goal focusing on mental health. “Mental health takes work.”

Career Advancement

In another session, Karen Siefring, assistant director and internship programs developer in the Office of Career Advancement, said the office helps students from Day 1, not just when they’re getting ready to graduate.

Quoting national statistics, Siefring said only 26 percent of college students utilize career services offices on their campuses. That’s unfortunate, she said. Career Advancement helps students with selecting a major, career exploration, internship/experiential learning, resumes, mock interviews and job search coaching.

“The whole world of jobs is available to you,” Siefring said, adding that the office works with current and incoming students, students at all of Rowan’s campuses, and with alumni.

Other summit sessions focused on learning differently, presented by Lee Plenn and John Woodruff from the Academic Success Center and Accessibility Services,  and asking for—and accepting—help, presented by Allison Baker, academic adviser in the Rohrer College of Business.

Student voices

Student panelStaffed in part by a robust group of students who serve as success coaches and tutors at Rowan, the summit included a resource fair with representatives from a host of campus organizations. The day ended with a lively student panel (at left), where, with openness and clarity, juniors and seniors shared their own Rowan experiences.

“Use the resources the University has to offer,” said senior Kyle Heyman, a senior finance and modern languages and linguistics major, who also is pursuing graduate studies.

“As a freshman, I was in the Advising Center a lot. You have to take that initiative,” continued Heyman, a campus tutor. “The services are meant for you…to put you on the right path.”

Everyone’s path is different, noted senior biological sciences major Benedicta Sarpong, who also is pursuing the Bantivoglio Honors Concentration in the John H. Martinson Honors College.

“You don’t have to follow anyone else,” said Sarpong, herself a peer tutor. “Know that everyone has their own path. Focus on yourself.”

Junior sports communication and media major Daniel Collins said he found strong mentors who helped him navigate Rowan, keeping him organized and upbeat. He got involved, he said, and, when he struggled, he found help, including at Rowan’s Wellness Center.

“I do Chill and Chats at the Wellness Center. I’ve done them every week since I was a freshman. The resources are really helpful,” Collins said.

Finally, junior math education major Rachel Bonhomme said campus involvement has been key to her success thus far.

“Do basically anything, even if it’s getting an on-campus job,” said Bonhomme, a student tutor and success coach who also is in the Fencing Club. “You’ll find friends and that will make your college experience.”

Abundant resources

While first-year students take “Rowan 101: College Success,” a seminar course that introduces them to University services, the Student Success Summit was a way to reinforce those services through active engagement with professional staff and students, according to Erica Conway, student success coordinator in the University Advising Center. A hundred Rowan students work as peer tutors and success coaches, she said.

Ahead this fall are a host of other student success initiatives, including:

  • The Success Workshop Series with sessions focusing on self-advocacy, smart goals, personal finance and other topics;
  • Structured Study, twice-weekly study sessions that provide consistent, distraction-reduced opportunities for students to commit to academics;
  • And the Student Mental Health Conference on Nov. 15, presented by Healthy Campus Initiatives.

Those services are in addition to the Rowan Success Network, which helps students connect with faculty, learn about resources and make appointments for academic support personnel; Student Success CoachingTutoring Services; and the Writing Center, among other services.

Finding motivation

Senior Sarah Knight attended the summit for a pep talk of sorts, both for academics and self-care.

“It hammered home the message that everyone can get help and that asking for help isn’t something to be afraid of,” said Knight, a psychology major. “This has given me that extra drive I need to finish school.”

Everyone needs to find their “why”—the one thing that gives them purpose, Bullard told the students.

“What is your why?” he asked the students. “That is going to be the motivating factor for your success. We want you to dream big.”