Since the beginning of Rizz's service in July '15, the college has moved toward innovating and institutionalizing C2C in a number of creative ways. The new C2C supervisor Tari Blaney took the program under her wing and stepped into a new role as the Director of Student Advocacy at CSCC. C2C was then moved from being a program administered by the Center for Advising, Support and Exploration to its current home in the newly formed department of Student Advocacy. The Student Advocacy Department is a great fit for C2C because it exists to identify ways that the college can better meet students’ needs, help students navigate institutional processes, and continually improve student support services, all with the goal of improving students' college experience and thereby student retention. This can be challenging on a community college campus where many students are transient and low socio-economic (SES) status, often balancing multiple responsibilities outside of school such as working one or two jobs and/or raising children, and sometimes dealing with hardships like food insecurity, homelessness, unreliable transportation and lack of affordable childcare. However, this is where the C2C program can really shine, as its purpose is to ensure low SES and first-generation college student success by offering peer-to-peer support, connecting them with campus and community resources that will meet their needs, and engaging them with service, professional development and leadership opportunities. Finding innovative ways to meet the unique needs of vulnerable populations of students is the C2C specialty and with this new partnership there is an institutionalized platform C2C can utilize to continue to identify and advocate for these students’ needs.
The roles and positions within the Student Advocacy Department are taking shape. In addition to the C2C program Student Advocacy recently gained the help of AmeriCorps members Sarah Katz and Nicole Martin to serve as College Completion Coaches. Funded through the Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC) and the Ohio College Access Network (OCAN), Sarah and Nicole have joined the team to provide direct service to students through individual coaching sessions and college success workshops on a variety of topics, including time management, study skills, navigating institutional processes, self-care and financial literacy. Sarah and Nicole are useful additions as they help fill the need for direct services when Peer Advocates are not available to do so and moving forward they will be helpful in strategically organizing service projects related to the social issues the campus community is facing. A third surprise addition to the Student Advocacy team is Maria Latschar, the Ohio Campus Compact (OCC) AmeriCorps VISTA who helped develop the Connect2Complete program at CSCC. Maria has been the VISTA developing the C2C program at Columbus State for two years and has done such an amazing job that CSCC has hired her as a Student Advocacy specialist after her second year of service ends this November. As the Student Advocacy Department team continues to build, Rizz knows they will be able to fight poverty even more effectively through collective efforts and will continue to support low-income and first-generation college students as they encounter systemic barriers and personal challenges to their success. Stay tuned to OCC news to find out what CSCC C2C has in the works; with the energetic and passionate team that is in place spring and summer semester are sure to be a more fruitful time than ever for C2C at Columbus State.