June 05, 2014
Service centers focus on transfer student success
Over the past year, we have been working more closely with our colleagues at the region’s community colleges to enhance opportunities for students who want to transfer to SIU.
Among the keys to our partnerships are the SIU Service Centers we operate at seven community colleges. The SIU employees who staff these centers make the process of transferring as seamless as possible. They help students pick a major, make sure their course credits will transfer, and let them know about the many programs and services that will help them succeed at SIU.
I attend meetings and events at the community colleges, including John A. Logan in Carterville. It is clear from my conversations with Anita Gentry, coordinator of our service center there for the past three years, that she a great ambassador for our university. She also is an effective mentor and advocate for the students -- especially because she has been in their shoes. Anita grew up in the Marion area, graduated from Johnston City High School, and attended John A. Logan before transferring to SIU. She earned her bachelor’s degree in social work in 1999.
“I want students to be successful here and I want them to be prepared for SIU so they don’t experience transfer shock like I did,” she said. “They are used to their community college surroundings. When I transferred, I spent so much time learning how to navigate the campus that it was hard to learn about everything that is available to you. The entire time I went to SIU, I paid for a gym membership in Marion because I didn’t know my student fees included the Student Recreation Center. No one told me, and I didn’t know to ask.”
Before she became the service center coordinator, Anita held several social work positions, including working with teen parenting programs in Williamson County’s high schools.
“I worked with teens, their parents, sometimes their grandparents, high school administrators and guidance counselors,” she said. “You had to get the whole picture, you really had to get to know the student and their circumstances. That’s true here as well. I have to find out more about the student than just what courses will transfer.”
She also stresses participation in student organizations and activities at SIU, because we know student engagement is important to academic success.
“I didn’t know about clubs and organizations until my last semester at SIU, so I make sure they get involved,” she said. “So many transfer students go to class, get in their car, and drive home. That’s what I did, and that was unfortunate.”
I also know that Anita brings the experience and expertise of being a mom to her professional role.
“When I went back to school, I had a 2 year old,” she said. “There are lots of non-traditional students on the Logan campus, and I have a passion for them. I really want to make sure they’re connected. I share my story with them; I want them to know they can do it.”
I appreciate Anita’s emphasis on relationship-building with our future Salukis and with our community college partners. As we often say at SIU, we are powered by relationships.