The Northerner | NKU Hosts Third Annual Student Success Summit
Northern Kentucky University hosted its third annual Student Success Summit on Friday morning, with nearly 160 attendees, including 18 panelists who each spoke about different student and faculty successes, as well as Moon Shot for Fairness, a collaborative initiative and project to close the equity gaps in higher education by 2030.
The event, held on Zoom, began with NKU President Ashish Vaidya welcoming everyone to the event, showing much gratitude to faculty, staff and students for remaining flexible during the current pandemic crisis.
“I just want to say how proud I am and applaud our community for being so focused on not only the success of our students, but also ensuring that we keep ourselves healthy and safe in this environment,” Vaidya said.
The event then focused on the virtual celebration of CARE (Creativity, Appreciation, Resilience, Engagement), where a number of NKU faculty, staff and students were recognized for their outstanding achievement.
Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Bonita Brown hosted much of the event, including panelist recognition.
Director of Recruitment and Retention at NKU’s HAILE College of Business, Olena Pilyayeva, spoke about the Log in in advance mentorship program exclusive to HAILE, where the program has been recognized for its creativity.
This program gives juniors and seniors the opportunity to mentor first- and second-year students through a one-year commitment.
Senior Austin Alwell and second marketing student My Doan both spoke at the summit about their experiences throughout the Connect Ahead program and the opportunities the program has given them so far.
“This [Connect Ahead] just opened my eyes to all the opportunities available in the Greater Cincinnati area and especially here at NKU. It has helped me improve my communication skills tremendously, whether with other students or with other professors, and it has really helped me see what NKU has to offer,” said Alwell.
Alwell is currently an intern at Rudler, PSC and has completed another internship and received offers from many other companies. He said Connect Ahead helped him find the right business for him.
“This program really helped me decide which company is best for me and also gave me the opportunity to choose the company that I think is the best fit for me,” Alwell said.
Doan said the program helped her improve her problem-solving, time-management and collaboration skills. Even through COVID, she has found Connect Ahead’s virtual meetings to be beneficial and supportive.
“I found these skills would benefit me in the long run… The valuable guidance and ongoing support from my mentor really helped me be more prepared and confident in my ability to try new things in the future. when it comes to finding an internship,” Doan said.
Appreciation was later recognized to Director of Special Events Krista Wiseman-Moore and Associate Director of University Advancement Special Events Kara Olding for their event planning skills by the Vice President of the academic advancement Eric Gentry.
“I appreciate their adaptability, their leadership and their determined perseverance,” Gentry said. “From running small and large in-person events to hosting virtual and now hybrid events, they have continued to excel. The greatest example of this is NKU’s largest celebration of student achievement, The Beginning.
The appearance of a celebration as big as NKU’s opening ceremony has changed over the past two years due to COVID-19.
Moore and Olding are a small but mighty team, planning start after start. With NKU’s latest graduations taking place virtually, Moore said the work could not have been done without those working in campus media services and faculty throughout academic advancement.
Meg Hensley, Director of the Student Support Services Unit, then recognized Student Government Association President Aliya Cannon and Vice President Daniel Myers for their resilience, sparking a conversation about mental health. .
Both Myers and Cannon talked about the obstacles they faced throughout college that made them more resilient. The solution to some of the problems they fought to overcome? Build a strong support system around them, filled with those who truly want them to succeed.
Cannon, a first-generation college student, found one of her first challenges on campus integrating into a predominantly white institution as a minority. From there, she began trying to navigate her own mental health journey and encountered roadblocks along the way.
“What I didn’t know when I got here is that we [minority races] We were already a step back because we first had to navigate a mental health journey that no one had told us about because in our culture it’s not something that was practiced,” Cannon said. “So we had to bring all of this trauma and all of this toxic behavior here and unlearn it before we could start to assimilate the knowledge and the lifestyle that I really wanted to have.”
Cannon described her biggest test of resilience as having happened last semester due to the loss of many loved ones close to her, including her best friend, which then slowly affected her mental health and grew worse. accumulated over time.
Cannon said she noticed a big drop in her grades, her ability to get advice, her eating habits, and had suicidal thoughts several times a week.
A recent NKU graduate, Cannon explained that without her support system of mentors, mentees and organizations she was involved in, she wouldn’t be who she is today.
“It’s all of my mentees and mentors that I’ve created through ROCKS, through the various organizations we have on campus, through my sorority that created my family, and my bond that has held me together when I’m on campus. was so far away. Without the student affairs experience here, there would be no Aliya Cannon,” Cannon said.
The final recognition from the summit represented the Commitment, where Electronic Media Broadcasting, Media Services and Nordic Athletics were recognized by Senior Technology Support Specialist Bill Farro.
Farro said about 70% of what media services cover on campus are live sports productions.
Carly Motzer, a public relations major with a minor in EMB, works with athletics and media departments to broadcast games and produce social media content, including college brand standards and marketing efforts. She produced Division I basketball for ESPN+, EPSN3 and regional networks.
Motzer said if it weren’t for EMB 335: Sports Media Production professor Wes Akers and Farro, she wouldn’t be where she is today.
“No matter where the future takes me, my time with live sports production will be a job that I will be proud of for the rest of my life. I am grateful that live sports production taught me my passion and that n t is the second most important thing I learned from this course and the people it brought to me,” said Motzer. “The course taught me that people believe in me and that I am capable of much more than I think.”
The summit then turned to three Moon Shot for Equity panelists from Wisconsin, including Vice Provost Phyllis King and Outreach Program Manager Vicki Turner from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, as well as DeAnn Possehl, Vice Provost Assistant for Student Success at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.
The discussion on Moon Shot, an initiative and collaborative project to close the equity gaps in higher education by 2030, focused on the progress that can be made to ensure that no student, regardless of race, ethnic origin or origin, obtains a higher education diploma. .
NKU has partnered with an education company eBike in 2021 to connect with other universities following the initiative to give everyone a fair chance to succeed throughout higher education.
Towards the end of the event, The Northerner interviewed Provost Matt Cecil, asking how the value of student success has changed from Cecil’s early college experience as a student to his role as Provost. currently.
“I literally had every privilege and safety net possible, but I almost managed to mess it up because I was really unprepared to deal with when things got tough for me, and I only got away with it because a group of people really cared, it was a model of coordinated care long before anyone talked about it that way.
Cecil recounted how he dropped out of college with only 15 credit hours to complete as a pre-med student, then returned to college later, where he studied journalism and history, then completed his graduate studies and received a doctorate in mass communication.
Cecil started his postdoctoral career forgetting the importance of support teams and trying to replicate his experience of the PhD program instead of the support students needed.
That changed once he had to teach an 8 a.m. introductory class in mass communication.
“I quickly understood that this was an opportunity for me to start paying for all the work that people had done for me. I realized that a course like this was as much about helping students understand how to be good students as it was about leading them through the history of mass communication and communication theory,” said said Cecil.
Cecil added how moved he was by the success of students on the NKU campus and how his understanding of student success only began by looking back on his own journey.
The Northerner also asked Cecil how his past roles and current Provost role can help NKU close equity gaps (such as through Moon Shot for Equity) by 2030.
“For me, all about closing these gaps is that we have to be uncompromising. We need to understand that closing equity gaps and increasing retention rates are two different things that require two different strategies. We could be great at retaining students and increasing our spreads, so we have to be very mindful of that,” Cecil said. “What I see at NKU and what’s special about this place is really that we have a group of actors. We have a campus full of these people, like the people who stepped up to help me and that inspires me. I look forward to those times when we can kind of savor the results of this work and those times will only become more frequent as we put this kind of support in place.
The event then returned to President Vaidya for his closing remarks, where he showed his enthusiasm for the upcoming spring semester which begins on Tuesday, January 18.