By Joe Cote
For Anthony Boucher, the COCE Student Advisory Board is a way to make life better for other students earning their degrees online.
Boucher is one of two returning members of the 15-person board formed in 2015. Boucher described it as performing many of the same functions as a student government group.
“Our purpose is to serve as the voice of the online student population in relaying questions and concerns to the school administration, as well as to engage and encourage students to use their voice,” Boucher said.
More than 1,600 students applied for the 13 open spots on the board, up from 643 applications in 2016.The new board members include Elis Cobb, Jason Cutter, John Ellis, Joie Gibson, Clay Howell, Devan Hunter, Stephen Lynch, Dawn MacDonald, Lisa O’Malley, Katherine Robinson, Jennifer Scott-Madison, Manuela Soares and Becky Tidberg. Joining Boucher as a returning member is Tracy Jordan.
Jordan said being a member of the Student Advisory Board is all about listening to other online students.
“As board members, we find it imperative that we listen to student feedback, inform change, raise awareness (of) the student body and increase student engagement,” she said.
Boucher sits on one of the board’s three subcommittees, on Academic Excellence; subcommittees meet regularly outside of the monthly full board meetings. An annual board retreat is held at SNHU’s Manchester campus.
Jordan said the experience was “life changing.” She particularly appreciated being able to meet and talk with President Paul LeBlanc and advisors, Career employees and other administrators. It also gave board members a taste of what it’s like to go to school on a traditional campus.
“I was allowed to see the sports field, sleep in a dormitory, eat at the dining hall, do homework at the library (and) get a student ID,” she said.
The board completed a number of projects, notably two SNHUconnect open houses, a Staff Appreciation Day on social media in November and a student survey, the results of which will be presented at a virtual academic town hall in June, Boucher said.
An Overlooked Resource
Board members are also leaders in SNHU Connect. They facilitate conversations online and are a conduit to SNHU administrators and employees. Boucher said that function would be even more valuable if more students knew about the Student Advisory Board and its function.
“I believe the SAB is vital, but students are too often unaware of its existence and what it can offer,” he said. “We are a direct pipeline to the school administration. You can ask us anything, and if we don’t know the answer, we know someone who does.
Boucher said he takes his role on the Student Advisory Board so seriously partially because of how important SNHU has been in his own life.
“In an institution with approximately 80,000 students, most of whom are ‘non-traditional’ online learners, to be one of 15 students chosen to represent this population is an immeasurable honor and none of us takes it lightly,” he said. “We do our best to make online learning feel less like an isolated experience and as much as possible like that ‘SNHU family’ that it truly is.”