What is Student Services? According to Jill Popwell, Director of Students Services at the Jacksonville campus, “Student Services is the department responsible for ensuring students have what they need to graduate.” This encompasses a lot. Student Services provides academic advisement and access to community resources (food, transportation, housing, etc.). In addition, Student Services also works with the campus’ mentorship program the Ambassadors, and they host numerous student appreciation events throughout the year.
Much of Jill’s job includes is tracking and monitoring students’ academic progress, attendance (especially if it is tied to funding) advise on what steps they need to take to graduate successfully. Sometimes, her job gets more personal than just academics. At times, students need to discuss an issue, and she is there to help. While Jill’s main focus is working with currently enrolled students, she also works with students who drop out or take time off before graduating and tries to get them back on track as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Jill wishes that more students would reach out to Student Services so they can access resources and connections. Too often she calls a student to ask why a student hasn’t been coming to class only to hear he or she lacked a resource like transportation or a part time job. Her response to students who may find themselves in that circumstance? “WE CAN HELP!!! But we need to know what their need IS so we can meet it.” Student Services have connections to resources. Students just need to ask.
Jill likes getting to know her students individually. She knows that many of them worked very hard to overcome great obstacles to get to graduation. That’s one aspect of the job she loves, but there are many more. While she doesn’t like to see students struggle, she gets satisfaction when they are finally able to master a skill or knowing she helped a student become successful when they had nowhere else to turn. Jill is also proud when graduates come back to tell her about the money they are making, how much they love their lives and how glad they are that they went to TWS. If you asked her, Jill would tell you, “I truly have the best job in the company.”
Is it an exaggeration that Student Services can be the unsung heroes of Tulsa Welding School? Maybe, but they are nonetheless an important aspect to help students achieve their goals.