Monday, December 1, 2014

Getting to Know: Donna Alexander, Student Success Coach

 Germanna Community College has launched a Student Success Coach Program. The coaches stay with students all the way through their time at Germanna, giving them the help they need to succeed in college and in life.
We'll meet each of the coaches in a series of Q&A profiles--Student Success Coach Donna
Donna Alexander
Alexander works with students at GCC's Fredericksburg Area Campus in Spotsylvania.

·     Where are you from?
I'm from London, Ontario Canada. I now live in Fredericksburg.
·     Where did you go to high school and college and what degrees do you have?
I went to high school in London, Ontario Canada and then attended two years at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario, where I obtained a Medical Administration diploma.  In 2000 I married a Marine and moved to a place I had never even heard of, Beaufort, S.C.  I started working at The University of South Carolina as a program specialist with a trio program.  I started taking courses toward my Bachelor’s Degree.  After my husband retired, he started a second career in D.C. and we moved to Fredericksburg in 2004.  I started taking more courses at Germanna.  After 8 years of assisting students and encouraging them to obtain their education, I decided to resign my position to do the same.  I graduated in May 2014 with my B.S. in Business and Psychology from Liberty University.  I'm deciding on which program I will take toward my master’s.
·     How long have you worked at Germanna?
I worked here from 2004 to 2012 in Tutoring Services; I came back to work at GCC Locust Grove Campus Counseling from February to June, 2014.  I started back on September as a Student Success Coach.
·     What do you like about working at Germanna? About being a Student Success Coach?
I love that Germanna employees are so committed to the academic success of each and every student! It is wonderful to be part of an environment in which we are all working together with the same purpose.
Being a Student Success Coach allows me to spend much more time with students.  I had always felt when I was in tutoring, that sometimes it isn’t the material of the class the student struggles with.  I saw students struggling with confidence.  They didn’t have someone telling them they could do this.  They didn’t have someone cheering them on.  Now I get to actually do this with students, and I couldn’t be happier.
·     What’s the biggest challenge you face in your job?
So far, the only challenge has been getting students to make initial contact.  Once they do and I can explain what my role is in their academics, they are thrilled. 
·     What’s your advice for Germanna students?
Follow directions and go to all your classes.  For instance, if an instructor wants you to complete a paper in a certain style and length and gives you a due date,  give them what they ask for.  Most of all, take advantage of the free resources available when you need help.  You never have to go it alone at Germanna!
·     For students graduating from high school and thinking about college?
If you are thinking about college, go to Germanna first.  You'll not only save a considerable amount of money, but you will become part of a very comfortable environment with staff that are here to see you succeed!  It will make the transition to higher education much smoother.
·     For older students thinking about returning to college?
There is the feeling for older students that they are going to be the only one. Germanna has many mature students and that's why a community college is a great environment for a returning student.  As a mature student myself, I understand the rigors of balancing work, children and life.  Germanna has the resources available to help with that.
·     What misconception does the public have about community colleges and community college students?
I'm not sure, but perhaps they think that community college is not as prestigious as a four-year institution, but with Germanna’s guaranteed transfer admission agreements, it makes sense to start here.  Here at Germanna the classes are smaller and much more affordable.  Also, the resources to help with the transition to college are more personal.
·     Are you married and do you have children?
I'm married to a retired Marine, Denny; and have a 12-year-old daughter, Olivia.  I also have four grown, inherited children (I hate to say step).
·     Fun fact about you?
I love trivia so much that I read trivia books and play Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit on my game system at home. 
·     What’s your favorite book?
"The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe"
·     Your favorite movie?
"Bridesmaids," "The Avengers," and "Raiders of the Lost Ark"
·     Your favorite TV show?
"Game of Thrones" and "Modern Family"
·     Your favorite sport and team?
Hockey of course! The Montreal Canadiens.

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