Houston,
31
March
2020
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10:57 PM
America/Chicago

Every UST Undergrad Gets Personal Success Coach

If you are a University of St. Thomas undergraduate student and your phone is ringing, answer it because a UST personal success coach may be on the line to check on you and your well-being.

That is one of the value propositions of a St. Thomas education – a place where the professors and staff know your name and care about your personal success.

Continuing on that tradition, University of St. Thomas is boldly launching an online “Celt Success Coach” model.

“While our daily lives and our students’ semester has changed drastically, we UST staff members – over 50 volunteers spanning 15 different departments – hope our message of caring and commitment to the students remains consistent in the days and weeks ahead,” Program Operations Coordinator Shundeez Faridifar said.

50 Personal Success Coaches to Call All UG Students

While UST’s faculty members continue to teach, mentor and support our students in this online learning environment, upwards of 50 staff members in Student Affairs and other departments across the University are being trained to serve as the personal success coach for every single undergraduate student.

“Serving our students is the heart of who we are at University of St. Thomas, and this unprecedented challenge is allowing us to truly innovate and lead boldly in the realm of student success,” David Hao, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, said.

The Celtic Coaches will be assigned to and support our students for as long as we are providing 100 percent online instruction. “The Coaches will contact and virtually meet with students almost every week to ensure the well-being of each and every one of our Celts,” Hao said.

Success Coach Patty Amaya Likes Bringing Hope to a Student’s Life

“Serving as a Celt Coach has provided me an opportunity to help students during this time,” Amaya said. “The City’s requirement to stay-at-home can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection. Students lives were changed instantaneously, and they have struggles and frustrations. I am excited to be a part of something that can bring a little bit of hope to a student’s life.”

The Celt Success Coach Program will begin as early as this week.

“After talking to dozens of students with a variety of situations and needs at the moment, the common thread between them all is how appreciative they are to hear that the University cares for them and wants them to be heard during this challenging time,” Faridifar said.

Nursing Student Kailee Mann is grateful that UST reached out to her.

“The call from my UST Success Coach staff member, Shundeez, was a pleasant reminder that the UST community never fails to make everyone feel welcomed and safe,” Nursing major Kailee Mann ’23 said. “Talking to Shundeez about how my past few weeks have been and the problems I've encountered as we've gone virtual felt good to share to someone that I know will want to help improve my situation. I do feel that UST has their students' backs in these tough times, as I've seen many different forms of reaching out throughout the community-- from social media, the MyStthom App, and phone calls like the one I had yesterday. It felt good to know that someone from UST was thinking about me and concerned with how I was doing, since social distancing and this pandemic can call for emotional and uncomfortable changes for everyone.

“Although I didn't request or need any resources, this call still helped me to remember that this isn't any vacation; school is still in session and everyone is in this together in order to receive the great education we're here for,” Mann said.

Biology Student Cecilia Nguyen Says UST has her Back

“Getting a call from a UST Success Coach yesterday made me feel as the Celt community was personally reaching out to me,” Biology major Cecilia Nguyen ’21 said. “I know during these circumstances, many professors, faculty, and staff are busy trying to make adjustments on top of doing their job, so I appreciate that they took the time to contact me and ask how I was doing.”

“I do feel like UST has my back during these times. The professors are understanding if we have some technical difficulties and encourage us to reach out to them if we have any questions or concerns. Due to our school having an app, many students are connecting to one another on there to ask for help or to voice their concerns. I believe that having the app allowed us to easily communicate with each other and post updates or even a photo to cheer us all up during this difficult time,” Nguyen said.

“I planned to continue my courses even before the call, but the call made me realize that the university is doing everything that they can to provide resources to students that need it the most. I know sending a mass email to the students does not guarantee a response from every student that needs help. Although calling every student may not be efficient, it provided a quick response from students and allowed those that were reluctant to admit that they needed additional resources from the school to voice their concerns,” she said.

“Personally, my family and I have all the resources that I need to continue being successful within my courses, but that does not go for every student within the university,” she said.

Celts Care Program Launched During Harvey Hurricane Continues Now

This Celts Success Coach program falls under the Celts Care initiative umbrella, which was launched to support its faculty, staff and students after Hurricane Harvey. Community donations helped buy laptops, replace books, give financial assistance and offer labor for cleanup.

The University President Richard Ludwick and other University volunteers picked up the phone during that devastating time and called every enrolled student.

These programs demonstrate how UST supports and cares for its community in times of need.