Celebrating Academic Success

Academic Success Center Reception Desk

The Academic Success Center at Minneapolis College is well known on campus for its commitment to providing a safe and comfortable learning environment that fosters respect. The Center is committed to helping students learn more effectively and independently, and believes every student can succeed.

As each fall and spring semester draws to a close, the College recognizes the hard work and dedication of the Center staff and volunteers who encourage student success. In 2020, the pandemic brought greater cause for celebration of this work.

“When classes shifted to an online format last year, our staff and peer tutors collaborated with students, faculty members and departments to transition our services to the online educational environment,” said April Hanson, director of the Academic Success Center. “We employed a variety of technological resources so we could provide virtual tutoring services in a range of subjects including writing, math, biology, nursing and chemistry.”  

According to Hanson, 40 peer tutors, 5 volunteer tutors and 4 staff tutors offered more than 1,340 hours of academic support to students during the fall semester of 2020. Online tutoring was quickly made available for individuals and groups and embedded tutors supported virtual Information Technology courses as well as on-campus English classes.

Hanson’s eyes shine when she talks about students who reach out to the Center for support. “It takes a great deal of courage for many students to ask for help,” said Hanson, who loves observing that moment when the light bulb of learning sparks for students. “The Academic Success Center provides a safe space for students to connect on a peer-to-peer level to obtain mentoring, coaching and learning in a safe space.”

“The ITEC 1150 Programming Logic and Design course is open to students with no experience in coding so it can be a steep learning curve for some of our students,” said Mary Bock, faculty member. “We have embedded tutors present during class to support learning and students can sign up for individual sessions. As a result of having tutors in the classroom, there is less waiting for help, and class can be divided into smaller groups, where people are more likely to speak up. Tutors also have a different way of explaining things, which often results in things clicking more easily.”

Bock believes there is a significant difference when students get help walking through new concepts versus trying to make it on their own. “Many struggling students take a leap forward with tutoring assistance.”

At the start of the Academic Success Center’s recognition event, Brian Lindell, writing, psychology and addiction counseling tutor was remembered for his dedication to the Center. “Brian was a tutor, mentor and leader at the College,” said Hanson, noting that he graduated in 2020 with a degree in Addiction Counseling. “In addition to being a volunteer tutor, he was involved in the student senate and the Collegiate Recovery Program and could often be seen on campus inspiring others to reach their goals. Our hearts go out to his friends and family for their loss.”

The recognition event is a tradition and on-campus semesters have concluded with a potluck celebration and presentation of awards. In an effort to create the celebratory and sharing atmosphere following the online semester, Center staff collaborated to send care packages to all of the student tutors and volunteers.

During the virtual event, the student tutors, volunteers and employees were congratulated for their work, accomplishments and honors received. Special recognition was given for superior professionalism, exceptional communication, versatility, empathy, participation in training, reliability and greatest demand for tutoring.

Three students were distinguished with the John Heinrich Education Award for their outstanding work as tutors. Youssef Ibrahim, ITEC tutor; Makayla Richards, nursing and biology tutor; and Juniper Django, reading, writing, logic and music tutor received the honor along with a $100 honorarium.

“I am proud of the work of our students and staff,” said April. “Without their hard work and dedication, the Center wouldn’t be possible.”

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