Sept. 22, 2017
By Bob Fowler
Roane State staff writer
It’s the satisfaction of helping a student find their path forward that makes her day, Roane State Community College’s Wendy Floyd says of her innovative job as a “success coach” for new students.
Case in point: A new student last year was “a little lost and unsure,” Floyd said, except for one thing: He didn’t want to be in the classroom anymore. “He was totally undecided about what he wanted to do.”
Floyd said she suggested “a certificate program that was a little more ‘hands on’ than a traditional associate’s degree.”
The student is now in the mechatronics certificate program at Roane State’s Higher Education and Workforce Training Facility in Clinton “and is doing well,” Floyd said. That program teaches students how to program and maintain complex machines used in manufacturing.
“That was rewarding to me,” said Floyd, herself a graduate of a community college in North Carolina who also holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Tusculum College.
Floyd and other success coaches are now in their second year in the groundbreaking program. Floyd splits her time between the college’s campuses in Oak Ridge and Loudon County.
“I love my job,” she said. It’s especially gratifying when she helps new students from families unfamiliar with the college admissions process.
Floyd started working for Roane State in 2012 doing financial aid processing. She applied for a success coach position late in 2015, started training in January 2016, and the program “went live” in late spring for the 2016-17 school year. First-time, degree-seeking students are assigned success coaches.
“The goal of the success coach is to reduce barriers to education,” she said. That includes meeting with hundreds of prospective Roane State students and helping them with the intricacies of college admission.
After scheduling appointments with new students, she meets with them to review everything from the admissions process to financial aid, from learning Roane State policies to helping pick a college major.
“Sometimes a student may not know what they want to do, but they know they want to transfer” later to a four-year college, Floyd said.
“If they’re not ready to declare a major, we help them with their options,” she said. Tips on assessing careers are offered, and students are often encouraged to do “job shadowing” as they research career fields.
“I help them (students) find resources, and if they run into obstacles they come to me,” Floyd said.
“I’m very excited to see Roane State take such a student-friendly approach,” she said.
Last school year, Floyd said she reached out to 176 first-time freshman students at the Oak Ridge and Loudon County campuses.
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