Going back to school after a 22-year hiatus was terrifying. Trying to keep up with in a college-level math class was discouraging. But at the age of 40 and with children as her peers, Melanie Orton entered a college class for the first time and was completely floundering.
Lost and confused by the subject, a topic she hadn’t touched since Ronald Regan was in office, Orton knew she needed additional help outside the classroom. Cue the Student Support Center.
Orton, who at first was barely able to begin college graduated at the top of class in 2005, went on to secure her master of accountancy in 2007 and was heavily recruited by several accounting firms, all because of the help and support she received from the Student Support Center.
Located on the second floor of the Sharwan Smith Student Center University, Center personnel dedicate their careers to ensuring Southern Utah University students, like Orton, know that no matter their struggle or disability he or she will receive the required support so that a diploma is a guarantee.
The Student Support Center provides a myriad of services and amenities for students to ensure a smooth transition into college, a few of these programs include developmental and introductory math and English classes with no more than 16 students in each, math tutoring, academic advisement, and supplemental financial aid resources.
But most importantly, according to John Shafer, academic support coordinator with the Student Support Center, the critical aspect of these services is not that it is available it is how it is delivered to students.
“There are hundreds of students who would have never graduated if it was not for the services rendered at the Center,” stated Shafer. “All personnel are completely invested in seeing the student succeed and ensuring that they know there are people who care.”
The Center currently totes a 50 percent graduation rate for their students, which Shafer stated is exceptionally impressive comparing the numbering to that the state of Utah, which only has only a 27 percent graduation rate.
Shafer further described that all of their students are at risk, meaning majority are either first generation college students, from low-income families, or receive little to no financial or emotional support from their families.
Along with students that lack financial or emotional support, the Center boasts a strong, and very influential, program for students with disabilities. Headed by Carmen Alldredge, the Center offers services for students with hearing and vision handicaps as well as veterans who have difficulty writing or mobility, or students who have ADD.
The Center is gives additional support to students that eventually becomes a catalyst to them receiving a degree.
But it’s not just the SUU community that knows that the Student Support Center is advantageous for a student to reach their academic goals, the regional Association of Special Program in Region Eight (ASPIRE) has recognized Shafer with the Art Quinn Memorial Award for his 13 years of outstanding service for SUU students.
SUU’s Student Support Center is a part of the ASPIRE program, which is a federal entity belonging to TRIO. A federal education program, TRIO is a national college access program and gives students aspiring to go to college or who are already in college aid, whether that be financially or academically. The TRIO program started more than 45 years ago at the federal level and now serves students from low-income or first-generation college families and students with disabilities at universities, high schools and middle schools across the nation to empower them to complete a post-secondary degree.
If you are interested in how the personnel within Student Support Center can guide you to a degree, whether that be academically or financially, visit one of their amazing faculty members in the Student Center, room 206.