Personal connection helps atypical student find her place

Jean Rienzo is something of an anomaly at Eastern Connecticut State University. She’s a 32-year-old single mother who lives off campus and has a demanding full-time job—certainly not the typical student at a public liberal arts university in New England. Still, Rienzo found her place—and succeeded—with the help of a caring, kindred spirit: her advisor.

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Consistent guidance key in navigating the first-year fog

After sailing through high school, Daniela Figueroa almost ran aground during her first year at Miami Dade College. She was overwhelmed by the school’s size and the wide range of choices it presented. Fortunately, the college’s “appreciative advising” program—and the personal bond she forged with her advisor—put her back on course.

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Two educators, a dual role, and a single mission

Lorna Hofer and Kerry Stager aren’t just instructors in business and accounting at Lake Area Technical College; they’re also highly involved advisors. Between them, Hofer and Stager keep close tabs on 80 students at the South Dakota college—not just academically, but personally. It’s a dual role embraced by every faculty member at Lake Area Tech.

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

Ask anyone who attended college more than 10 years ago to name their student advisor, and you’ll likely be met with a blank stare. Ask them what that advisor did for them, and the response is no less predictable—something like: “He told me where to register,” or “She helped me drop a class.” Such an […]

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Sue Headden headshot

The stories in this issue of Focus were reported and written by Susan Headden, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and communications professional with many years of experience covering education issues. Headden, a former staff writer at The Indianapolis Star, also worked nearly 16 years at U.S. News & World Report, ultimately serving as a managing editor. She later held senior positions at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She now works as an independent communications consultant based in Washington, D.C.

Writing | Susan Headden
Editing
| David S. Powell
Editorial assistance | Ruth Holladay
Photography | Shawn Spence and Al Ferreira
Design | IronGate Creative

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