University of Missouri-St. Louis Bridge Program
In short, what do you do?
In my role, I support the daily management of the Office of Precollegiate Student Services, which includes maintaining collaborative relationships with local schools and community organizations, planning and executing student and parent programs, after school clubs, college preparation workshops, as well as assisting in the professional development of full-time and student staff members. Our office provides educational opportunities and resources that demystify the college going process. I am extremely fortunate to be a part of a team that is dedicated to the educational empowerment and success of St. Louis area students and parents.
After working in higher education for over 12 years, where do you see progress being made in terms of access to higher education, and what are the major challenges that remain?
In general, there is a more widespread awareness of the importance and possibility of post-secondary education. The message of the necessity of higher education has come to the forefront over the last decade in the way of national and local taskforce and initiatives. The investment in broadening students’ understanding of the educational opportunities available to them has been evident in students’ overall knowledge and post-secondary aspirations.
While overall awareness has increased, significant challenges remain that impede students’ ability to pursue degree attainment. Affordability and the overall academic preparedness of students’ continue to be major hindrances in students’ achieving their collegiate dreams.
In our increasingly digital world, teenagers often get labeled as technology addicted and lacking interpersonal communication skills. What’s your assessment, and what is your approach to connecting and building relationships with the students you serve?
Those of us born prior to the digital age have been forced to embrace this era as an extension of everyday life if we want to reach our students. We’ve had to learn to speak their language. Incorporating digital learning with curricula essentially encourages the development of skills needed for future scholastic and career aspirations.
Though getting students to “unplug” can pose a challenge, our program uses it as an opportunity for exposure to real world scenarios such as; college admissions updates, testing practice and feedback, syncing deadlines through calendars, and setting up job search profiles. Bridge continues to reinforce the importance of traditional interpersonal communication and effective writing techniques while also showing students how to make their online presence work to their advantage.
What is the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?
Kindness should be the norm not the exception. There’s no prerequisite to show compassion – everyone deserves it. We are not responsible for how others treat us, only for our actions and sentiments. I’ve learned that people may forget what you said and even what you did, but few forget how you made them feel. There is always an opportunity for kindness.
Tell us about your involvement and work with Pointe of Surrender Dance Studio.
Pointe of Surrender is a full-service Christian dance studio located in St. Louis North County. I have the privilege of facilitating workshops on various topics such as; self-esteem, empowerment and purpose as well as serve as a Mentor.