Kelly Graska, MassBay’s Student Development Administrative Assistant, explains how she is the front line of the Student Development office. She strives to have students leave her desk feeling better and having their questions answered. In trying to solve everyone’s problems, she sometimes realizes that what students actually need is just to be listened to, understood, and validated, which she does for them. She thinks one of the biggest problems for students is that they’re not aware of how many different types of support are available to them at MassBay.
Students will come into Student Development and ask her if we have free personal counseling (yes), or career counseling (yes), or if can they get help with writing a resume and doing a mock interview, etc. (yes and yes!). Kelly also sits on the Student Nourishment and Care Committee (SNACC). She and her colleagues noticed many students were hungry and it wasn’t just at MassBay, it seemed to be a national issue, so MassBay surveyed students and learned that many students are hungry and food-insecure. Kelly will never forget the first SNACC meeting. She remembers about six people sitting in a conference room to decide, together, how to bring the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB), as a mobile market, to campus. They planned every detail for the GBFB to deliver fresh food and figured out how to manage the market that’s held once a month for all MassBay students, faculty, and staff. The SNACC committee is now at a point where it runs so smoothly each month, it just takes one email alert to gather people to dispense bags, volunteer at the market.
“MassBay has such a wide range of students. Some are here because their parents want them to go to college, but they don’t want to go to a four-year school and they’re just appeasing their parents. Some tried a four-year school and it didn’t work out, so now they are just making it work and are very focused. And some students are a little bit older and may have been doing office work for years, but now want to return to school to start a new career. MassBay has so many supports and resources for students that it’s hard to not do well at the college. Students may struggle with personal things going on in their lives and may realize, ‘Okay, I need to take a personal leave’ or ‘take a medical leave.’ There are a number of those students, as well. But MassBay is such a tight-knit community, and provides so much academically and personally, that when anyone working at the college sees a student failing or not doing well, everyone becomes hands-on to do whatever is necessary to help the student.”