College can be tough to navigate, and students can have a lot of questions about everything from financial aid to tutoring to figuring how to resolve roommate issues.
That is why OSUIT Student Services created a Student Success Facilitator position to act as a one-stop shop for students to get help and advice on where to turn when they have questions and concerns.
Jim Embrey took on the role last fall.
“The way I see it, the job is to help students, especially first generation students who aren’t familiar with college. But we assist anyone who needs help, whether it be tutoring or mentoring or a problem with financial aid or residential life,” Embrey said. “I help get them to the right person.”
Sable Vasquez, special events coordinator, oversees the new position and said the Student Success Facilitator role is primarily a way to increase retention.
“We don’t want students to struggle because they don’t know where to get help or don’t know the resources available,” Vasquez said.
Embrey, who was a first generation college graduate himself, knows what it’s like to navigate an unfamiliar university system.
“I came from a small rural area and I just had to learn on my own,” he said.
He gained more experience dealing with university policies and procedures when his son went to college, and then he started working at OSUIT. Now he hopes he can use his knowledge and experiences to help others.
“Maybe they don’t know the questions to ask. They don’t know their rights; they don’t know where to turn. In a way, we’re advocates. How can I help you and have empathy,” he said, and he feels honored that students trust him with their issues and concerns. “You hear their stories, and everyone has a story. I’m getting a lot out of it personally.”
In the past, OSUIT had a full-time retention coordinator that was grant-funded. When the current state budget crisis hit and grants weren’t reinstated, the university had to face the challenge of how to combat retention rates with no one in that role, Vasquez said, which is when the Student Success Facilitator position was created within the recruitment department.
“We needed a designated person for retention efforts,” she said. “Right now, we’re just raising awareness of his role, but later we will be designing programs for students entering college.”
Embrey started out with OSUIT in the Purchasing Office, but soon felt called to do something else, and that is when Vasquez approached him about the Student Success Facilitator position.
“I’m an extroverted type of guy. I think it was meant to be. I think it fits my personality better,” he said. “Everyday is a new experience, building relationships with people. If you can build relationships, you can do so much more.”
And Embrey doesn’t see himself as alone in working on retention efforts.
“We all do this. We all recruit for OSUIT,” he said. “Those instructors or staff in the programs and schools, if they see someone struggling, ask them what’s going on. Work with them to get them the help or resources they need.”
If you or someone you know has questions or needs assistance, contact Student Success Facilitator Jim Embrey at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 918.293.4913.