By Jordan Unger
Nicole Kent-Strollo stepped in as director of Student Outreach and Support at Youngstown State University last month where she will work directly with students to ensure their success and stability.
Mike Reagle, assistant vice president of Student Success, said Kent-Strollo will talk students through their physical and mental issues and provide them with the resources they need to stay healthy and remain in school.
“This person will take on those caseloads to be able to follow up with students who are this close to dropping out, but are also this close to staying if they get the right resources,” Reagle said.
Director of Student Outreach and Support oversees the previous duties of the Ombuds position, which was removed when YSU moved away from supplemental pay for faculty to capture costs in full-time positions. Reagle said the need for the position was addressed after faculty came to the department about students living in their cars.
“We know we’ve got some students here who are struggling with housing, we’ve got students struggling with food,” Reagle said. “Much of what we do here on campus is [to serve as] a bridge to larger resources in the community, but we just didn’t have a person who could follow up with people.”
For many students, school can become the easiest thing to back down on when crises arise, Reagle said.
“What happens is a student [misses class for personal issues] and doesn’t notify the faculty member,” Reagle said. “The faculty member doesn’t know, so now [if] the student has missed class for a week, it’s going to automatically affect their grade.”
He said the director of Student Outreach and Success will serve to bridge these gaps between students and faculty.
Kent-Strollo said helping students has always been her passion.
“This is something that I have really been doing informally for a very long time,” Kent-Strollo said. “It was a no brainer.”
Kent-Strollo graduated from YSU with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 1994 and received her Master’s Degree from Kent State University in 2002. A certified nurse practitioner, she came back to YSU to teach when the nurse practitioner program started in 2011. Kent-Strollo said over 20 years of experience will help when assisting students.
“I’m not diagnosing,” Kent-Strollo said. “I’m not doing those types of things, but it’s inherent that I know that stuff so I can say, ‘Hey … what I would do is get checked out for this,’ or ‘Why don’t you just make an appointment just to make sure that this isn’t going on.”’
In addition, Kent-Strollo has served as an assistant coach of track and field at YSU before taking the role as Student-Athlete Welfare and Development Coordinator. Brian Gorby, YSU head track and field coach, said Kent-Strollo is deserving of the new position.
“It’s always been about the welfare of the kids,” Gorby said. “She takes incredible time out of her own schedule. She’ll always put everyone else in front of herself.”
It is ideal that students come to her, regardless of how big or small the issue is, Kent-Strollo said.
“Life happens, and I am honestly here to just assist them getting through some of those tough times,” Kent-Strollo said. “If we don’t know what to do right then, we’ll find out.”
Reagle hopes that conversations with Kent-Strollo will help students find ways to solve issues without dropping out of college.
“For most students, the educational piece is the long-term piece that gets you out of where you are now,” Reagle said. “It gives you the opportunity for a better future and when students drop out here, the chances of coming back are much, much less if [they] can stick it out.”