Student Success Center Supports Leadership Development Through Students Helping Students

Student Success Center Supports Leadership Development Through Students Helping Students
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For years, the Student Success Center has served as a valuable network of resources for students across campus looking for academic and personal support and advocacy services. And while the number of students the center has served over the years is notable, the number of students the center employs each year is equally remarkable. The Student Success Center stands as one of the university's largest employers of students, helping them develop valuable leadership skills as they put their campus experiences to use helping their peers successfully navigate the various challenges of college life.

This fall, the Student Success Center has welcomed 203 students into its support and mentorship network. For some areas of the department, such as embedded and peer tutoring, the number of student employees is a center record that reflects the growing size and needs of the university's student population. The center employs students in various roles, including supplemental instruction leaders, traditional academic tutors, academic coaches, embedded course tutors, ambassadors, peer mentors and more. 

Students who take on roles to support the mission of the Student Success Center learn valuable skills they will be able to take with them beyond their time at the university. In training for their positions, student helpers develop leadership skills, assertiveness, empathy, listening, communication skills and more that help them excel in the classroom, in graduate and professional programs, on the job and in interpersonal relationships.

Both undergraduate and graduate students make up this year's student support team. Every academic college is represented, and students in nursing; biological sciences; and health, human performance, and recreation are the top three departments students call their academic homes. Over half of the students employed by the center are Arkansans, and nearly 20 percent are first-generation college students.

Students working in the department are also some of the most academically accomplished on campus. The team boasts an impressive 3.71 mean GPA, and nearly 41 percent are enrolled in the Honors College. The team is composed of Honors College Fellows, Governor's Distinguished Scholars, Eagle Scouts, campus RSO leaders and community volunteers. Many students are actively engaged in student organizations across campus and intern with companies outside of the classroom.

The students helping students model the Student Success Center employs is one that has been shown nationally to be a powerful learning practice leading to better academic outcomes. Students often have a better idea of what ideas and concepts a peer may struggle with than an instructor might, and often, a peer may be able to explain a concept in a way that is relatable to another peer.

"Personally, students helping students means lending a helping hand for your peers' success and lifting each other up, so we all come out on top in the end," said Braden Byrum, peer academic coach and senior double majoring in accounting and finance. "College is a difficult time for everyone, some more than others, so I think it's important to be kind, empathetic and uplifting. This can be through academic, professional or even emotional aid that every student needs from time to time."

In speaking to the effectiveness of the students helping students model, Ethan Brown, a supplemental instruction leader and senior in political science with a pre-med focus, also added, "This model works because there are so many different ways that students can learn. The most effective way for a particular student might not be the way that was presented by the professor, but it might just be one that they learn from a fellow student."

"Anne Raines, senior director for academic initiatives, and her team have done a remarkable job growing our student leadership model in the Student Success Center. We are a better center and campus because of our student leaders and the work that they do to assist thousands of their peers each year. Students on both sides of this model benefit from the approach, which is why 'Students Helping Students' is a central part of our center's mission," said Trevor Francis, associate vice provost and director of the Student Success Center.

To learn more about the Student Success Center, visit success.uark.edu. For students interested in employment opportunities with the center, visit success.uark.edu/about-us/employment to learn more.

Contacts

Trevor Francis, associate vice provost and director
Student Success Center
479-575-7627, tafranc@uark.edu

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