Getting Students Engaged: How Tri-C’s Student Engagement Office Plans to Connect Students
It’s Spring semester at Cuyahoga Community College. Tri-C Students shuffle to and from class, and to locations such as the cafeteria and the library. Sometimes, however, students walking across the galleria are greeted by sets of tables, food, and activities. By simply signing a sheet or scanning their Stomp Cards, students get free access to these events, held by the Student Engagement Office.
“We do about two to three weekly events in the galleria or around campus. They’re meant to foster that sense of belonging to campus and to the Tri-C community,” said Jennifer Kubala, Student Life advisor at Tri-C West. She also oversees the Campus Activities Board and works with Student Government.
Students receive emails from Student Life posting dates and times for campus events. Some follow these emails, like Samantha Beeler. “I do pay attention to the emails, because I like talking to new people and see how everyone else is doing.” she says. Other students pass events as they they’re taking place and stop by.
“I do get the e-mails. On occasion I read them, but I’m only on campus once a week, so most of the time I’ll just see what’s going on and I’ll stop by.” says Michael Walker, who lives in Euclid.
Kubala said the situation is much different from when she began her position, as Tri-C still emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic and had fewer students on campus. “Because we had so few students, we were averaging about 15 to 20 students per event.”
That has changed, according to her. “We’re currently averaging about 50 to 60 students per week, so we’re about tripled the number of students that are coming to events.”
Students must enjoy the ability to connect with others and believe the Student Engagement department has been doing a good job. “They do an excellent job doing us, as the student body, altogether in one place and making us really connect and bring us together,” said Beeler. “It’s really nice to form a human connection, especially after COVID and everything.”
“It’s always intriguing, walking in and seeing a bunch of signs and people gathered and whatnot,” said Walker. “I think it’s really good because [there’s] always positive vibes. It’s always trying to bring people together, which I think the world needs a little more of.”
Monica Lwambo, an international student from The Congo who was sitting with Walker, agreed. “We’re talking like we’ve known each other for a long time, and it’s just our first time seeing each other. She commented. “He says his name, and I say mine. I ask him where he’s from, and he asks me where I’m from. That’s the idea, to communicate with other people.”
“What we’re seeing is that students want to be on campus and they want to have more of that interaction, where previously, of course, during the pandemic and then shortly after the pandemic, students really wanted to continue with remote classes until they became more comfortable, with more people having been vaccinated and a safer environment all the way around.” Said Kubala.
The week of February 6, Tri-C’s West Campus hosted Success Week in the Galleria, allowing students to learn about various departments, clubs and organizations on campus.
Student Engagement has further events planned. “In March we’re hosting an author, so we’ll be having the English, Writing and Journalism departments come. [The author]’s a true crime author, so hopefully the Police Academy will come as well.” Student Engagement is also working with Student Affairs, including The Counseling Office, Student Success, and the Enrollment Center. “We’re just continuing to work even stronger with them as we’re all making connections with students and encouraging them to come to events.”
Kubala strongly encouraged students who wanted more information or to be a part of activity planning to reach out to the office or inquire on the Campus Activities Board. “I can send them the information on when we meet. Which we’re getting that rolling again for the end of spring and then into next fall as well. I’m excited that anyone would want to work with us and to be in student engagement and I’m more than willing to talk to anyone at any time about it.”