Dean of Students Monica Christensen shares with us what’s new at MSM in Student Affairs for 2022–2023, including how to get involved in student life, where to turn if you need help, and about what’s new in health & wellness at MSM.
What are you most looking forward to for this academic year?
Dean Christensen: I am most looking forward to an academic year that feels normal again – I hope that’s what we get!!! Orientation Week was an absolute dream – meeting students for the first time and being able to see their faces! Our Director of Residence Life April Jenkins and her team, including Residence Coordinator Makila Redick-Kirchner, have been hard at work settling everyone into the Andersen Hall residence. We’re all enjoying seeing everyone get ready for a new academic year!
Can you tell us about any key Student Affairs initiatives this year?
Dean Christensen: The Student Success Center has now matured into its second year. We really know what our students want us to offer now. It has been very exciting that the faculty have also come to rely on Vaughn Watson, who runs the Center – they are inviting him to put together training and workshops that will help our faculty meet the learning needs of today’s students. They are also partnering with him to put together training and workshops for students on topics they know students need.
We have a new Director of Student Engagement, Audrey Kajumbula, who with her team will be able to bring back some favorite MSM initiatives that were suspended due to the pandemic, such as Talking Circles, and she is bringing some new ideas of her own to MSM. These are all in the formative stages, but I can’t wait to see what emerges! And on the subject of returning to normal, we hope some of the previous student-run traditions come back that were suspended during the pandemic, such as Student Government’s Fall Formal.
The English as a Second Language Department continues to launch new initiatives. Newly promoted Director Hannah DeBlock has worked with an outside expert to rethink some of the structures and approaches in our program. Last year she piloted training MSM students who are either native English speakers or non-native but with strong English language skills to work with their English Language Learner classmates. MSM will be using this strategy more broadly this year and we hope this will both strengthen students’ English skills as well as help our English language learners connect socially beyond the scope of classmates who share the same native language.
What can new students do who’d like to be involved in student life at MSM?
Kai Santiago, our Student Engagement Coordinator shares the following information for students who want to get involved in campus life at MSM:
“Students are encouraged to follow Student Affairs on Instagram to receive updates about student organization sponsored events. If you’re not on Instagram, we regularly update the MSM website with active student group information. You can find more information about our 10 current active organizations here: MSM Student Groups. Our largest student group on campus, Student Government Association, meets regularly with a representative from each student group, and host an open meeting to all students. We invite you to reach out to SGA’s email to find out more information such as joining a committee, attending an open meeting, or to get to know which students represent your major department! If you ever have questions about starting your own student group, please reach out to Kai Santiago, Student Engagement Coordinator.”
“There are lots of ways to get help and personal support at MSM when it is really needed. Students can reach out to me, reach out to their RA, send a text to Crisis Help Line at xxxxx, or call the Mental Health Emergency Line at 917-493-4000.”
Can you tell us about health & wellness at MSM?
Dean Christensen: Cai McPhee, RN, EdD, runs the Campus Health Nurse Office, assisted by graduate student in public health Thalia Philip. Students who feel ill or encounter health issues come to Nurse Cai, who helps them access the proper resources they need to get care. Nurse Cai, Thalia and two RAs from Residence Life plan and execute health awareness programming. They take an approach that is holistic and proactive and usually also a lot of fun. Nurse Cai can also refer students to Dr. Eduardo Pereira, our physical therapist, when they have musculoskeletal issues that can be treated by physical therapy. Dr. Pereira works at MSM on Wednesdays.
The Counseling Center is composed of six professionals, all of whom work part-time at MSM. All of our counselors have active and respected private practice outside of their role at MSM. Having multiple part-time professionals work with our students give students a range of treatment provider options they would never have if we relied only on one or two full-time providers. This year we have Brian Neff doing clinical coordination who makes sure students who need appointments get connected to a counselor. He also serves as one of our therapists.
MSM provides many opportunities to learn more about maintaining positive mental health, and also responds to emergencies. There are lots of ways to get help at MSM when it is really needed. Students can reach out to me, reach out to their RA, send a text to Crisis Help Line, or call the Mental Health Emergency Line at 917-493-4000.
What should students know about the MSM Student Success Office?
Dean Christensen:The MSM Student Success Center offers tutoring in a wide variety of subject matters, writing support, homework help, training on organizational techniques and workshops aimed at removing barriers to success. Last year’s best-attended workshop helped students to prepare psychologically for juries – generally the most stressful event of the year for students in departments that have juries. The Student Success Center also offers extra support to students in our ESL program who are struggling with their courses and or particular elements of language acquisition. Finally, Vaughn Watson, who runs the center, is just really good at having conversations with students to help them figure out what is getting in the way of their ability to achieve their goals and some strategies about how to make change. Here are some of the support areas of the Student Success Center:
- Organizational Skills
- Educational Technology
- Bullet Journaling
- Pomodoro Technique
- Time Management
We wish everyone at MSM a highly successful, engaging, and fun academic year 2022–2023!