CASNR Student Success Center's focus remains recruiting, retaining top students
They may not be Spiderman, Superman or Wonder Woman, but for a lot of students in Texas Tech's College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the professionals in the Dr. Bill Bennett Student Success Center are superheroes in their own right, largely due to their passion for Tech, CASNR and agriculture in general.
Elizabeth Bertrand, the first face many students see, is the coordinator for student recruitment. She started working at the CASNR Student Success Center as an undergraduate student in the spring of 2009, then became recruiter for the college in 2014.
As the student recruiter, Bertrand's smiling face welcomes potential students and new students to the big, new world of Texas Tech. "As staff, we have such a huge roll in a student's future and their decision to come to this university," she said. "Even if that's just a handwritten letter or a phone call that we may not even remember making, that has such a huge impact on a student, and it carries over to when they are [enrolled as] a current student."
Bertrand said being able to interact with the potential students and following up with them after their campus visit helps the college with their recruitment efforts and connections with the students. "The efforts done by the Student Success Center is what ties everything together and makes this university feel like home for them," she said.
Serving as the coordinator of scholarships for the center is Cindy McCullough, a behind the scenes presence that helps students make their futures attainable here at Tech. Her duties within the scholarship department include making sure each student who receives a scholarship makes the deadline for writing their thank you notes, managing banquet attendance, and various other requirements each particular scholarship may need.
"My favorite part about working in the Student Success Center is definitely interacting with all of the students," McCullough said. "They can be frustrating at times, as anybody can be, but my favorite part about my job is listening to the students and learning about them."
A big part of students being successful at Tech is knowing what obstacles students may face, and helping them through it. In steps CassiDe Street, coordinator for student retention. A native of Kress, she earned her bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees in agricultural communications at Texas Tech and was hired on at the Student Success Center.
Street coordinates all student retention activities, such as Ag Fest, Ag Pals Program, CASNR Government Internship Program, Red Raider Extravaganza, CASNR Learning Community stakeholder, Early Alert Program, Who's Who, Red Raider Orientation, Popcorn Pop-Ins, Winter Welcome, as well as CASNR's monthly student and faculty newsletters.
In addition, she's the contact for assisting students in finding university resources, internships, and career opportunities, in addition to serving as the advisor for the Ambassadors for Agriculture, an agricultural advocacy student organization. "My job sure keeps me busy," Street said with a laugh. "But I enjoy being able to interact with students and, ultimately, helping them succeed."
Savannah Chambers serves as Coordinator for Undergraduate Programs. Her role is to ensure students are ready to graduate. The Sonora native said she grew up coming to Texas Tech with her family. Being a third generation Raider, she said some of her best childhood memories involved Tech football games and Tech traditions.
"I meet with each student at orientation and talk to them about their major and what they want to do," Chambers said. "Then, at graduation, I get to meet with them again and so it's exciting to see the students change and grow and what they go on to do."
The newest member of the staff is Everardo Macias, CASNR's new Coordinator of Diversity. The Dallas native indicated he will continue in the recruitment of high school students and transfer students for CASNR through a targeted effort, as well as develop and coordinate information and printed literature emphasizing the college's diversity, its programs, centers and facilities.
In addition, he'll be developing and coordinating an undergraduate student diversity retention plan, and collaborating with the other diversity programs across Tech's sprawling campus. Macias will also serve as staff advisor to Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS).
"I'm excited for this new opportunity; to bring all that I've learned over the past four years of working for the Office of Undergraduate Admissions," Macias said.
Separately, Macias will assist CASNR's Coordinator of Student Recruitment, Elizabeth Bertrand, with campus visitors, on-and-off- campus events, CASNR specific events and events organized by Tech's Office of Undergraduate Admissions, in addition to assisting students from a diverse background with financial aid and scholarship applications and opportunities within the university and CASNR. Prior to joining the CASNR staff, Macias served as Senior Admissions Counselor for Tech's Office of Undergraduate Admissions- Dallas/Fort Worth. Macias received his bachelor's degree in Sociology/Criminology and Spanish from Texas Tech (2012). During his time at Texas Tech, he worked for Red Raider Orientation and was involved in Kappa Upsilon Chi.
Meantime, Janie Lopez, the Coordinator of Student Relations, directs visitors to the student success to the appropriate person. Whether you're walking in to visit face-to-face, calling in, or even sending mail, she's probably one of the first staff members CASNR students will interact. "Meeting the students and being able to direct them towards the appropriate person, or helping someone get a start with connecting to this college are some of the best parts of my job," Lopez said.
CONTACT: Cindy Akers, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Programs, College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2808 or firstname.lastname@example.org
0714NM16 / PHOTOS: (top to bottom) Elizabeth Bertrand, Everardo Macias, CassiDe Street, Cindy McCullough, Savannah Leonard and Janie Lopez
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