October 29, 2013
Purdue Profiles: Jane Brooks
Jane Brooks, coordinator of the Student Success Center at Purdue North Central. (Purdue North Central photo/Karen Prescott)
Jane Brooks is helping to redefine the term "success" on the campus of Purdue North Central. As the coordinator of the Student Success Center, Brooks works to ensure that students meet their academic and professional goals.
Brooks describes her position, which she has held since 2010, as the ideal mix of what appeals the most to her in a job -- education, student advocacy and policy development. Through her work, Brooks says, she wants to help her students become what they want to be and sometimes what they don’t know they want to be.
What is your history with Purdue?
I attended both the North Central and West Lafayette campuses. After traveling and completing my doctorate, I came back home to Purdue to work as a lecturer in anthropology at North Central.
What is the Student Success Center?
The Student Success Center is in the Purdue North Central Library. Located within the success center is my office, the tutoring area and a separate testing room. During the week, we offer drop-in tutoring in a variety of subjects. Our tutors are peer-tutors. The tutoring sessions are led by the students’ needs.
The success center also houses the majority of our accommodated and assessment testing. The center also houses new student orientation. My team and I are among the first to welcome incoming freshmen to our campus and to our mission. Most importantly, we are welcoming them to a new role in their lives -- being a college student.
What is your role at the center and how does it benefit the campus community?
I think that my role is to oversee, manage and, when necessary, get into the nitty- gritty of student success and retention on our campus. What I do benefits the campus on multiple levels. I am always, first and foremost, about the students here. I am a champion of our campus and system in the larger community. My passion for education is demonstrated in new student orientation and in every class, program, policy and meeting in which I play a role.
I have put a lot of myself into new student orientation. Like any fledgling program, it has needed some nudges and coddling along the way. The benefits? They shine in our retention data. Although it is early yet, we are seeing some decent progress in the last year in fall-to-fall retention data as well as fall-to-spring. It is difficult to say that this positive progress is the result of any one initiative. I believe it is the result of multiple programs and interventions that are simultaneously supporting students toward the same goal; however, several of the retention initiatives have been located in my area, which makes me very proud of the work I do.
What are the biggest rewards for you in your current position?
The biggest reward in my position is seeing a student succeed or watching them use skills that I helped them hone. Like anyone, I have bad days at work. In the past, when I was exclusively in the classroom, I would call them "bad teacher days." These are the days when the message that I wanted to get across seemed to not sink in or they went awry. The students are usually still satisfied with how the class went, so it is more about my own self-reflection based on my expectations.
The odd thing about those kinds of days though is that I always seem to walk back to my office and there is a thank-you note in my mailbox or an email from a former student. Those moments remind me, and reaffirm for me, why it is that I do this job. I love being an educator inside and outside the classroom.
What changes have you seen at Purdue during your time here?
At PNC, I have seen many changes over the years. The most important one to me is the shift toward a very student-centered institution. My area has revamped or created programs and policies to help students down a clearly delineated path to graduation. I have also witnessed the rebirth of PNC as a four-year institution. We now offer multiple bachelor’s degree programs that create more opportunities for the students in our area. Service-learning is also now an important component of PNC’s class offerings. It is nice to see our students learning to be engaged in their communities as well as in their classrooms.Writer: Chris Adam, 49-62296, email@example.com