Accessibility a goal for new program

A new director on campus said she wants to energize her department.

The Exploratory Student Advisement University College Center is a new program as of Dec. 3 that combines the former Center for Academic Success and the Pre-Major Advisement Center and aims to help students with undecided majors. Veronica Williams was named the director of the program and said she is excited to see the new department grow and develop during the next few months.

The Buffalo, N.Y., native, was a first-generation college student and mother when she attended D’Youville College in Buffalo.

“I was and still am highly motivated,” Williams said. “Being a young mother never stopped me from being in school and working three jobs all at the same time.”

Williams said she worked 10 years in retail management before going back to school to complete her master’s degree in personnel administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She most recently served as the director of the Twenty-First Century Scholars Program at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind.

“I am so excited to rock this department and get to know all of the students and staff better so that we can work as a unit to help the students succeed,” Williams said.

She said the department’s goals are to collaborate with staff and operate as one unit that provides quality services to students in the program so they can get the education they need.

She said she hopes her relatable background and energetic personality will help students feel comfortable when they talk to her.

“I have an open-door policy,” she said. “I want students to come and talk to me whenever they want to, even if it’s just to say hi.”

Adrienne Gulley, developmental skills training specialist at the Exploratory Student Advisement University College Center, said she thinks change is good, and she is excited to see what plans develop with the program.

“I think having a director from outside of SIU is great because she can bring new ideas to the university, and she might be overwhelmed with all she has to do this first week. Good things are still happening,” Gulley said.

Gulley, who was an advisor in SIU’s former Center for Academic Success program, said she thinks students have greater needs when they come to college.

“A lot of our students have financial issues, are first-generation students and sometimes come into college with a mindset that they won’t succeed because that’s what has been instilled into them all their lives,” she said.

Gulley said she hopes that the combination of the two departments will strengthen the support provided to students.

Jessica Jones, a senior from Rockford studying history, said she went through the CAS program when she was a freshman, and she thinks the combination will mean a fresh start for everyone involved.

“I didn’t always love the program when I went through it, but looking back, I think it was extremely necessary,” Jones said. “I still talk to my mentor, and as a freshman, she really helped me figure out how to balance school and a social life back then.”

 

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