Creating Community Among Students at Altierus Career College
Guest Post By James Nemeth, Student Communities & Engagement Specialist, Altierus Career College
My role as Student Communities & Engagement Specialist at Altierus Career College (Altierus) is an experimental, but promising one. It’s funded by ECMC Foundation with the purpose of learning how to bring students, faculty and staff together in new ways—like building campus support structures through social media, bridging the offline and online student experience, and fostering peer-to-peer help on the educational journey.
To achieve results across all campuses, I regularly travel to Tampa, Atlanta, and Houston where I play an active role in supporting the students, faculty, and staff. Bringing new initiatives to life requires a degree of campaigning and awareness building. For example, I recently organized social media campus events to promote our campus lounges. The event included food, music and fellowship. From these events, we saw an increase of 10%-30% new lounge members. I often socialize ideas with the Ambassadors to solicit their feedback and make sure I am on the right track.
I recently conducted a teambuilding exercise for the Ambassadors at the Norcross campus. I asked them to break into groups of three, which they did with a bit of hesitation, unsure of what was coming next. I stated that the rules were simple: they needed to build a paper airplane as a team and the first team with an airplane to take flight would win a candy bar. A collective sigh of relief came from the room as the Ambassadors determined that this would be an easy task. I then explained that each person could only complete one step in the airplane-making process. At that moment they realized that not only were they going to have to build a paper airplane with speed, skill, and precision, they would have to work together to accomplish the task. At the end of the activity, the takeaway for the Ambassadors was that through effective communication and teamwork they can accomplish anything and even seemingly small or simple activities can add up to have an impact.
Being able to make a difference in our students’ lives is a true passion of mine. The lounges have created a positive culture that helps with retention, student success and Ambassador development. Currently our Ambassadors represent 10% or more of the total student population at the campuses. Ourtarget goal is to reach 30%. If 30% of the campus students were Ambassadors and they are direct extensions of student success, the campus as a whole will see improvements in student retention and graduation. It is an honor to build communities within our social media channels and work with our Ambassadors. I am energized by catching the ‘ah-ha’ moments and seeing an idea turn into a reality; these are some of the biggest rewards that come with my position. I am thankful for these daily opportunities and truly can never have a bad day at work when so much good is happening.