By Kaycee Gnatowski, Academic Advisor
Five Questions is a regular feature in which we interview a College of Online and Continuing Education staff member. In this issue we talked with Online Community Specialist Helena Iaquinta.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
I mostly work with the online clubs; we have 11 recognized clubs right now. In addition to those 11 clubs, there are six honor societies, two of which I am acting as the advisor for. Each day I get a range of emails, anywhere from 25-100, from students asking about benefits and club information. I also spend a lot of time training staff here on how to articulate information and how to present it to students. Currently, I am working on the COCE Leads Conference; we are thrilled about this. We have so much support from Academics this year and are so happy to have faculty present and helping students. I also like to ride my scooter around the building to say hi to people and form new connections and relationships.
How does your team contribute to student success?
The biggest “light bulb” moment for us is seeing that transformation of our students, who go from being shy to wanting to become involved in an online club or organization. I think we do an intentional job of making sure our students know the resources available and making sure they create relationships with other students and feel supported throughout the journey.
You work primarily with online clubs and honor societies. Do you have a favorite?
I would never be able to choose — that would be like picking a favorite child! I love to see how each club works together, and they all have something different about them. I remember hearing someone say they were so excited to hear about the Nerds Unite club, because it makes them feel okay to be a nerd. Then you have the Psychology club, which is one of our largest clubs. Also, The Society of Athens club is constantly coming up with crazy topics that they just want to talk about with other people and see what their thoughts are. I love seeing how much each group has grown, and in the past year we have doubled our member numbers. I can’t pick a favorite because I love them all, and I am excited to see the new ones coming out.
What do you wish students knew about SNHU’s online clubs and organizations?
When you look back on your college experience, you don’t always remember the books you read or the teachers because you were so immersed in the content itself; it really is all about relationship building. Since there is not the option to go to a concert hall with friends or to try out for an athletic team, SNHUconnect is your space to meet up with peers. Online students are not calling them their online pals, they are calling them their legit friends. We have actually surpassed 10,000 active students per month, all talking about their pets, their families and engaging with others.
What is your biggest on-the-job triumph?
I can converse with students on a daily basis and give them my full attention. Online education at SNHU opens doors for students restricted by time constraints and physical barriers, without requiring them to sacrifice having a quality education.