Starting strong: A small army of staff want to help students succeed
They’ve been planning it for months. Staff and student volunteers organize Canada’s largest one-day orientations, called Imagine and Create, plus activities for international students (Jump Start), and residence life.
But support for university life goes well beyond the first day. Here are a few staff who work year round to support students.
How do you spell relief?
When UBC Enrolment Services awards advisor Michael Wong calls, new students breathe a big sigh of relief.
“Without question it’s one of the most personally rewarding programs we are involved in as advisors,” says Wong. “We see a direct correlation between financial peace of mind and academic performance.”
Wong manages Entrance Awards for UBC’s Vancouver campus, a financial assistance program for students who need this funding to attend university. Recipients are assessed on their ability to transition to university, family circumstances and financial need, some receiving up to $10,000 each year. For the 2012 winter session, UBC Enrolment Services will disburse more than $450,000 in Entrance Awards.
Wong and his fellow advisors help recipients with financial planning and information on how to connect with UBC resources such as counselling, academic coaching, and career services.
“I’m so proud of the students who have come through the program and have gone on to do great things,” says Wong. “What makes this group of students so exceptional is that they have met the requisite admission requirements while overcoming severe hardship and personal challenges. A common thread is that these challenges have made them only more determined to give back.”
A healthy mind
Dr. Rob Lloyd-Smith
Celebrating his 30th year of service this fall, Dr. Rob Lloyd-Smith has been on campus longer than most of his patients have been alive.
Splitting his time between Student Health Services and the Allan McGavin Sports Medicine Centre, Lloyd-Smith, a sports physician by training, treats students for anything from ski injuries to mysterious rashes. He wants to help them make the most of these transformative years.
“It’s a time of great change and excitement both intellectually and emotionally, and it’s a very stimulating and rewarding population to work with,” says Lloyd-Smith, who adds that some of the common concerns are related to transitioning from home to independent living.
While sexually transmitted infections continue to be a mainstay —“the challenge is in translating a wealth of sexual health information into practice”—mental health has emerged as a key concern for many students, sometimes masked by physical symptoms.
“We have an advantage as campus-based physicians to spend more time on average than general practitioners with students, giving us the opportunity to dig a little deeper,” he says. “But more students are becoming aware and seek help specifically for mental health concerns.”
While encouraging the incoming class to enjoy campus life, Lloyd-Smith offers a simple rule for good health: 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week “doing whatever you enjoy.”
Born to create
Some people stare glumly at a computer all day. Not Adam Goodwin. His job is to enhance students’ experience by helping them connect and have fun outside the classroom.
As student event coordinator with Student Development and Advising at UBC’s Okanagan campus, one of Goodwin’s projects this year is Create— the annual new- student orientation held in September.
Goodwin first arrived at UBC’s Okanagan campus as a student in 2007, graduating in the first bachelor of human kinetics cohort in 2011. He worked, volunteered and lived on campus, building connections and discovering a passion for student affairs and higher education.
After graduation, Goodwin landed a job with Athletics and Recreation in event management and promotions, moving into this new position in July. Goodwin says one of the things he likes best about his job is seeing students evolve.
“It is such a rewarding experience to watch how much our students develop and grow over the course of an academic year,” says Goodwin.
When asked about the advice he gives UBC’s Okanagan campus newbies, Goodwin says, “I tell them to let university surprise them, keep an open mind, reflect, and take chances.”