By Tamir Moore
There is something new at Delaware County Community College this semester. The new Student Resource Center, which opened on Jan. 13, is a one-stop shop to serve the needs of at-risk students, according to Dr. Kendrick Mickens, director of Student Outreach and Support, who believes more students need help nowadays.
“The time is right now,” Mickens said.
The Student Resource Center has been in the works for several years. Approximately eight years ago, Mickens, assistant professor of business, computing and social science Kathy Schank, and assistant dean of Retention & Completion Amy Williams Gaudioso, noticed several students had food insecurities.
In 2018, the DCCC Office of Institutional Effectiveness polled around 1,000 students.
Twenty-seven percent reported food insecurities and 49 percent said they would make use of a campus food pantry, should one be created.
The Social Work Club then took the lead, providing these students with a healthy bagged lunch every day, according to Mickens.
Mickens reported DCCC students have also revealed the need for support in the following areas: academics, transportation, mental health, family advocacy, expungement and emergencies.
As a result, Campus Life and the Career Counseling Center collaborated to create what is now the Student Resource Center.
The Student Resource Center looks to improve graduation, retention and completion rates for at-risk students because they need the most help, Mickens believes.
In the past, students needed to go to multiple locations to access services, according to Mickens.
“President [Joy] Gates-Black wanted one central place in which students can access a wide range of services,” Mickens said.
In due time, the Student Resource Center was given the green light to begin operating in the Academic Building.
According to Mickens, the Student Resource Center’s location is convenient. “Our location is great because if we cannot help the individual student directly, we can refer them to other services like Campus Life,” Mickens said. He went on to add that although the Student Resource Center has been open for a short time, plenty of students have taken advantage of the new program.
“We had over 100 students come to the Student Resource Center during the first week of operation,” Mickens said. “I see the Student Resource Center, within the next three years, grow and expand.”
Mickens added that the center plans to hire additional staff in the future because more students are expected to utilize it.
Today, the staff consists of Mickens, administrative assistant of the Office of Student Success and First-Year Experiences, Tina Hansford, and several students called peer mentors.
As a part of DCCC’s Mentoring Program, peer mentors get assigned to work at the Student Resource Center. These mentors are students who have completed at least 24 credits of coursework. They are paired up with students to assist them in their transition into DCCC.
“As a part of becoming a peer mentor, you have to work several hours a week in the office,” said Megan Devine, an 18-year-old peer mentor and a business administration major at DCCC.
Devine currently works two-hour shifts each Tuesday.
Devine also mentioned that Mickens debriefed all the mentors prior to the spring semester, outlining their responsibilities and duties.
Another peer mentor, Rolande Ngassam, a 30-year-old science for health profession major at DCCC, handles other key aspects of the mentoring program.
“I do orientations for new peer mentors,” Ngassam said.
Mickens estimates that up to 1,000 students may use the Student Resource Center within the next three years.
Since the center is currently in the early stages, students can walk in whenever they please.
However, plans are in the works to install a kiosk to help regulate students visiting the Student Resource Center at any given time.
Devine anticipates that the mentors will have a major role in the kiosk process.
“Our mentors would be at the front door helping students out,” Devine said.
In addition, the Student Resource Center plans to expand to a larger space in the future.
“With the Southeast Center set to merge with the Upper Darby Center in two years, the consolidation of the new campus allows us for more growth,” Mickens said.
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