The Cultural Resource Center added to their staff this school year with the hiring of K’Mia Clarett as the student success coordinator.
Clarett, who worked with AU last year as an Americorps member, was offered the position because she was a valuable member of the CRC team last year.
“The university felt that, though she was working for an external agency [last year], she would still continue to add value,” said CRC Director Mike Thigpen.
Clarett worked as an event coordinator at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Anderson prior to her position at AU. In the past, she has been an integral part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration at the Paramount Theatre.
“We need to continue to develop retention, help students see the value of AU, but help them navigate the waters of AU,” Thigpen said.
The hope is that hiring a student success coordinator will help students to grow while at AU.
The timing of Clarett’s new role couldn’t have been better, with one of the largest incoming student classes in recent history.
When asked about her role, Clarett said that her duties are “diverse.”
One of her main focuses is the 21st Century Scholars, students who have earned a four-year scholarship through the state of Indiana. She will help to ensure that their retention rate is sustained.
“Since I’m under [Thigpen’s leadership], I’m now helping the Massey Scholars, making sure they are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, as well as helping with some of the international students,” Clarett said.
Part of her role is tracking students’ grades and making sure they’re meeting the requirements to maintain their scholarships.
Her varied roles involving student success often overlap because many of the Massey Scholars are 21st Century Scholars as well.
“I help admissions a little bit, making sure that if students start here, they finish here,” she said.
Essentially a spokesperson for the students, her role involves making sure students feel at home away from home.
Thigpen stressed the importance of giving students “the tools they need.”
He believes that students need to have access to their financial information, whether that’s a loan, grant or scholarship details.
Students also need a niche in the community so they have a feeling of belonging and connection on campus, such as involvement in sports teams, social service or cultural clubs.
“Students should also be able to grow spiritually throughout their years here at AU,” he said. “The goal is to make students feel like we have given them layers of support.”
Clarett wants to have face-to-face conversations with students and get to know their needs.
She said that students seem to struggle academically, specifically with time management. To help students in this area, she will lead a time management workshop on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at 2 p.m. in the library computer lab.
She will also lead a financial literacy workshop in the spring semester to help students grasp the loan process and to increase knowledge of financing during school.
“We want the office, or the school in general, to have a holistic approach, where you can come in an office and we will give you everything you need, or point you in the direction of someone who can help you,” she said.
Whether on or off campus, Clarett wants to be there for the students in any way possible, including helping students with campus necessities like toiletries or obtaining proper clothing for the weather.
She would like to help, she said, “Even if it’s a winter coat for an international student who comes from a warmer climate and is not prepared for the winter. We want students to be together mentally, physically and in all aspects so they can do well and thrive on campus.”
Her office can be another home to students—she has free snacks, bottled water and an open space for students. The office is in the bottom of Decker, office suites 10-13, where the Human Resources office was previously located.
There will be a 21st Century Scholars orientation and welcome back event for the scholars on Thursday, Sept. 13 from 6-7 p.m.