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Student Support receives Innovative Program Award

Minnesota State Academic and Student Affairs Division 2016 Innovative Student Affairs Program Award groupDuring a ceremony at Minnesota State Colleges & Universities Academic and Student Affairs Leadership Conference on Thursday, October 20, MCTC’s Student Support Center (SSC) was recognized with an Innovative Student Affairs Program Award. The award recognized MCTC’s SSC for providing a comprehensive menu of services to meet the needs of students when they are facing challenges.“ The SSC is designed to provide non-academic support for students and to give the requisite assistance that addresses fundamental needs and allows students to stay focused on their academic achievement.

“MCTC’s Student Support Center provides for students’ basic needs, including housing, food, safety and support so students can focus on their academic progress and success,” said Avelino Mills-Novoa, Ph.D., former MCTC interim president, who was impressed that more than 3,600 service contacts were made by the Center in the 2015-16 academic year. “ These services include, but are not limited to, crisis response, referral to essential resources, food pantry, snack packs, emergency funding, child care resources, mediation, student conduct and complaints, and student support groups.”

Minnesota State Academic and Student Affairs Division 2016 Innovative Student Affairs Program AwardIn addition to serving students, SSC is a place where MCTC employees can reach out for assistance with student issues or consult about student concerns and crisis. The staff of the SSC are known for their skills in providing for and responding to the needs of MCTC’s diverse population. In addition, the SSC serves as a model for many educational institutions on how to deliver services to vulnerable populations.  During the 2015-16 academic year SSC highlights included more than 1,175 student visits to the food pantry accounting for more than 12,000 pounds of food being provided to students in need, 1,760 snack packs provided for hungry students and 456 counseling appointments to assist students in navigating challenges.

“Receiving this award is a great honor for the Student Support Center,” said Maya Sullivan, director, Student Support & Compliance, Title IX Coordinator. “We have an extremely dedicated team that assists our most vulnerable students – who are often in crisis – on a daily basis.” Sullivan indicated that the students she and her staff work with are facing what seems like insurmountable odds.  Employees on the SSC team do this work because they sincerely care about the students and their success.  Sullivan said the staff understands how unmet non-academic needs can engulf a student’s academic progress.  “Receiving this award shines a light on the hard work of this team and helps us to feel appreciated. It also allows our community to gain an understanding of how important this work is,” said Maya who is grateful for Becky Nordin, dean of students and Patrick Troup, interim vice president of Student Affairs for nominating the SSC for the award. 

The SSC prides itself on having a comprehensive array of partners to extend the reach of its services including: Aeon Housing, Assurance Wireless, Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin County, First Unitarian Society, Hennepin County Health and Human Services, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, The Family Partnership and Think Small and Urban Ventures.

“Happy and healthy students are successful students,” said Hennepin County Human Service’s Ann White who endorsed MCTC’s SSC for the award. “The MCTC SSC is setting students up for both personal and academic success by dealing directly with challenges students are facing that effect their ability to function properly and succeed in school.”

The SSC was also recently awarded a sub-grant in the amount of $75,000 through Community Action Partnership of Suburban Hennepin County. The grant enables the Center to remain strong as it continues its important work.