KEY Center Offers Tools for Student Success

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keycenterby Eric Jensen

The wooden sign above the door says “KEY Center,” but it’s really a home away from home for 152 Victoria College students. KEY stands for Knowledge, Exploration, and You, a fitting combination of the goals set for the student services resource center.

“We want our members to feel like they are at home,” said Pam Neuman, Director of Victoria College’s KEY Center. “We want them to feel comfortable here, to know the staff – and they do. We want to be here for them.”

Students can use KEY Center services for free – the computer lab, printing, school supplies, paper, notebooks, folders, binders, fax services, and laptops to check out.

Students can use the many free KEY Center services once they are accepted into the program, such as one-on-one tutoring, financial aid assistance, transfer information, and academic advising. The KEY Center is funded to serve 152 students and has a waiting list of others wanting to join.

“The KEY Center is funded to serve students who meet the guidelines set by a grant from the Department of Education,” Neuman explained. “Students fill out an application, and we review it to make sure they qualify. We have a review process to help us select from the applicants, since we often have more students apply who would like to be members.”

The KEY Center’s goal is to have at least 25 percent
of its students graduate with an associate degree.
Last year, 48 percent of its students reached that goal. Also, 90 percent of KEY Center students returned to school the following fall.

Helping Neuman to reach and exceed these goals are full-time employees, Counselor Magali Silva, Academic Advisor Joy Sixtos, and Administrative Assistant Ana Hernandez, along with six part-time tutors.

“KEY Center members sometimes have obstacles in their paths to success,” Neuman said. “We do what we can to eliminate these obstacles, or at least get students around them. Our goal is to see them graduate or transfer within the four years they have to utilize the KEY Center.”

Neuman and her staff don’t have far to look for the latest KEY Center success story. Victoria College’s new nursing instructor, Katie Walpole, is a former KEY Center member.

“She was very successful – she got through her Associate Degree in Nursing, and now she’s teaching vocational nursing courses,” Neuman said.

“The KEY Center was a big part of my success while I was enrolled at VC in the nursing program,” Walpole said. “I was able to complete a career plan, which helped me stay on track and remain goal-oriented. I learned my academic strengths, and the KEY Center offered tutoring for any area of weakness.”

Walpole was more active in social events on campus while enrolled in the KEY Center and was awarded scholarships to help offset the expense of tuition and books.

“I am proud to return to VC where I hope to offer the same support and positive encouragement that I received,” she added. “I hope to help current and future students start their own success stories.”

As part of its services leading to student success, the KEY Center offers enrichment events each semester. These include workshops on financial literacy, time management, test anxiety, study skills, and note taking.

Located on the first floor of Johnson Hall on the Victoria College Main Campus, the KEY Center is open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Thursday, and Friday and stays open until 6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to meet students’ requests for more evening hours.

One of the KEY Center students is Devon Williams, 27, who said he is bouncing back and forth between business management and business marketing studies.

Williams estimates he spends roughly 20 hours a week at the KEY Center. While there, it’s “study-study-study and homework-homework-homework.”

“I never sit around,” he said. “The only time I’m sitting around is when I’m eating, and then I go back to homework.”

Williams gives the KEY Center excellent grades for its tutors and other support services, and he said his grades have improved since becoming a KEY Center member.

“There are always tutors here,” he said. “I can have one-on-one time for an hour if I have any questions about any math or literature. If I have any personal problems, I can always talk to the advisors who help us work through our problems and give us advice.”

Last semester, Williams introduced some of his classmates to the KEY Center because “everybody needs help with their studies or at least someone to talk to.”

To help ensure student success, VC offers:

  • Tutoring
  • Academic Advising
  • Career Exploration
  • Transfer Assistance
  • Student Success Workshops
  • New Student Information Sessions
  • Strategies for Success Course
  • Veterans Services
  • Disability Support Services
  • Supplemental Instruction

About the KEY Center:

  • The Center is grant-funded through the Department of Education and originated under the TRiO program, which began in 1964 under President Lyndon Johnson.
  • The Student Support Services program was named the KEY Center in 2001, the first time the grant was written for Victoria College. It is funded to serve first-generation college students, low-income students, or those with
  • a disability.
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