Raising the Bar on Student Advising
New Navigation Center for Student Success enhances student access to the services that allow them to reach their fullest potential.
It is not unusual for first-year students to struggle at the start of their college careers, but for computer science major Johana Papa ’25, an Albanian native whose first language isn’t English, the hurdles felt particularly daunting.
Looking back, she cannot believe how quickly things turned around when she began working with Stonehill’s Tutoring Services team.
“I wouldn’t have been able to navigate the first year of college without the people who showed me the path through it all,” she said. “Now, as a sophomore, I’ve signed up to serve as a peer tutor. I’m excited to pay it forward and help other students.”
The institution has long given priority to connecting students with the advising needed to maximize the value of a Stonehill education. In addition to Tutoring Services, these resources include Accessibility Resources, Academic Advising and Career Development. To leverage the synergy of these services, Stonehill combined them as part of the newly launched Navigation Center for Student Success.
The center streamlines the advising experience for both students and their network of mentors and guides. The advising teams are better able to work as a cohesive unit with shared resources. Though they are cross trained to ensure students feel supported no matter who is coaching them, staff maintain a deep knowledge of their respective fields.
“Everybody on our team will know enough to offer the first level of support, but they will also know who exactly they should send students to for more specialized assistance,” said Christina Burney, executive director for student success.
The center’s mission is rooted in Stonehill’s Think.Act.Lead. philosophy, which subscribes to the idea that all students should find mentors and guides who push them forward and help them realize their dreams.
“Those mentors are meant to help you identify transformative experiences that Stonehill offers, opportunities to get outside your comfort zone and do things that help you realize who you want to become,” Burney said. “This idea serves as the foundation for the Navigation Center for Student Success. What we’re doing is further operationalizing this philosophy.”
Unique Approach Gives Students a Competitive Advantage
Although many schools boast programs like those offered by the Navigation Center, this campus resource stands out from the pack.
“The fact that Career Development is part of the center makes it unique,” Burney said. “A lot of the time at institutes like this, students only receive academic support, but we want to think more holistically about helping them navigate their Stonehill journey. If our goal is helping them create bright futures for themselves, helping them find a career is essential.”
Monique Kachadoorian ’20 said she owes a lot of her success to Stonehill’s Career Development team. After graduating with a degree in marketing and entrepreneurship, she was hired as a project engineer for Suffolk, the largest construction contractor in Massachusetts. She later transitioned into a supervisory role at Kachadoorian Construction, her family’s business.
“I worked with the Career Development team all the time, whether it was to review my resume or practice my interviewing skills,” she noted. “Seeking out their services gave me the confidence to not only sit in a room with an interviewer and highlight my qualifications but also navigate different environments upon entering a new role.”
Lindsey Walsh ’23 also honed her confidence through collaborations with Stonehill’s advisors. During her first year of college, she struggled to acclimate to the demands of higher learning while living with ADHD. She eventually reclaimed her power with help from Stonehill’s Tutoring Services and Accessibility Resources teams.
“Working with a tutor made me a more confident student. I’ve gained managerial skills that I didn’t have before. And the Accessibility Resources team has helped me craft a plan that’s enabled me to find success here,” said the psychology major, who comes from New Hampshire.
Like Walsh, Valdo Alfama ’22 of Brockton, Massachusetts, dealt with academic challenges after transferring to Stonehill from Massasoit Community College during his junior year. At the time, the biology major was juggling classes with an off-campus job.
“Staying organized used to be a challenge for me. The Academic Advising team gave me resources to develop time management skills. We would come up with a plan at the beginning of the semester and have regular check-ins to see if adjustments needed to be made. I’m so thankful to them,” said the alumnus, who is now working at Siemens Healthineers, a medical technology company.
Strong Start with Endless Growth Opportunities
In the hopes of continuing to enhance the College’s advising services, Burney envisions the construction of a physical space that houses the Navigation Center’s four entities under one roof. For now, the center’s team is focused on providing students with opportunities that not only promote growth and reflection but also allow them to tap into their full potential, no matter their individual goals.
“I think students will appreciate that this center removes the ambiguity surrounding the question of who they should approach for help,” Burney said. “If students are struggling academically, searching for cocurricular experiences or aren’t sure how to talk to a faculty advisor, this will be the place where they can get what they need.”