This fall semester, the Office of Student Success has added two new staff members to their team to focus on recruitment and retention initiatives. Please join us as we welcome Allie Haught and Jordan Schmidt-Gonzalez to the College.
As a West Virginia native and first-generation student, Allie Haught grew up loving WVU and dreaming of attending the university. She was motivated to enroll and have that new experience. Once she began her college career, WVU became home.
Haught completed two internships while a student, one at the WVU Cancer Institute. She worked at the Mountaineer Line at the WVU Foundation as an undergraduate student.
She received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from WVU, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social work in May 2018 and a master’s degree in social work in May 2019.
“It was a great experience to work with other students and alumni of the university. While obtaining my master’s degree, I worked as a graduate assistant for the Center for Learning, Advising, and Student Success at WVU. I instructed the First-Year Seminar course and I was a success coach,” Haught said.
Haught joined the CPASS Office of Student Success at the beginning of the fall 2019 semester.
“In the Office of Student Success, we do our best to make sure CPASS students are on the right path towards graduation and using any resources the university has to offer to make them as successful as possible. We are a great resource for various questions the students might have, and our doors are always open,” she said.
OSS staff offer advising to CPASS students. Each advisor covers different majors. However, OSS staff are available to answer any question any student might have.
“We work together with students to develop an academic plan for the years the students will be with us at the university. We try to guide and assist students throughout their academic journey and we also refer students to appropriate resources they might need,” Haught said.
Haught tells freshmen to start career planning their first year.
“It is never too early to start because graduation will be here before you know it. It is important to start off strong by working hard and utilizing resources. By doing this, students are more likely to stay on track for graduation,” she said.
Haught says that it is crucial for freshmen to begin thinking about how to gain experiences relevant to the career they want. She tells students to use the four years at the university to build a comprehensive resume to help life after college.
For students looking for help in transitioning to college life, Haught says to exhaust every possible resource.
“Transitioning to college life can be difficult and overwhelming. I think knowing about available resources allows students to make a smoother transition while also gaining new support systems. Go to tutoring, office hours and career services. West Virginia University offers many tools to help students be successful and I encourage students to take advantage of everything we have to offer,” Haught added.
Jordan Schmidt-Gonzalez earned both a B.A. in psychology with a minor in kinesiology and an M.A. in kinesiology with an emphasis in sports studies from San Jose State University. She was all in for more sunny California experiences.
But then Schmidt-Gonzalez’s husband landed an excellent opportunity to come to WVU for a doctoral program, so they packed up their lives on the west coast to move to Morgantown. Schmidt-Gonzalez says she’s grateful they did since she’s discovered career opportunities at WVU and believes that Morgantown is a good fit. “It’s one of my favorite places I’ve ever lived,” Schmidt-Gonzalez said.
Schmidt-Gonzalez had just completed her graduate degree before she made the move east. Although she had experience in teaching college students as a graduate teaching assistant and other work involvement in professional sports, she says she did not have much career-focused experience.
Now that she’s officially a Mountaineer, things have changed. This past year, she had the opportunity to work with the Center for Learning, Advising and Student Success (CLASS) at WVU as an academic advisor for pre-health sciences students. “Working in higher education has always been a goal for me coming out of school, so I feel very lucky to be where I am right now,” she said.
Within the CPASS Office of Student Success, Schmidt-Gonzalez explains that the staff is available to help students build their plans of study, give advice and help them find resources or anything else they might need. She says the students’ academic success is important to them. “Students should always feel welcome to meet with our excellent group of knowledgeable advisors,” she added.
In addition to providing tips and direction for university-based resources, students can count on WVU career services specialists, conveniently housed in the OSS office, to provide strategic job planning. Meanwhile, OSS staff helps students in building academic coursework, maintaining their graduation timeline, locating tutoring and connecting with student organizations.
According to Schmidt-Gonzalez, career planning should start early, even as a freshman. She acknowledges that it can be a challenge for students to start college and expect to know exactly what they want to do. “Most students change their major at some point as they are learning what their interests are,” she said.
“The sooner you can get an idea of what you want to do, the easier it is to get there. If a student knows they want to pursue physical therapy within their first year on campus, it is easier to make sure they have everything they need from prerequisite coursework to internships and shadowing hours to be prepared to move into their desired profession,” Schmidt-Gonzalez said.
Schmidt-Gonzalez believes that the earlier students can begin to explore their potential careers, the simpler it will be to transition to a different field of study if the one they have chosen does not match their expectations or interests.
She advises students to get to know fellow classmates, especially those in the same major. “These peers may be ones you have classes with for the next four years. Having familiar faces and good relationships with these classmates can make your academic life easier. They really are your greatest resource as you navigate your classes and can be great a great source of help,” she said.
Finally, Schmidt-Gonzalez offers one more piece of advice for students. Go to class. “Seriously, just make sure you are going to class every single week. I can’t tell you how many students realize that they do better in their classes when they attend. Just being present even when you really do not want to be there will benefit you in the long run,” she added.