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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

University appoints director of transitioning students

Emmly Cherival ’21, Long Huynh ’21 and Fatmata Sakho ’21 talk in the Commuter’s Lounge. PHOTO: MATT BARRETT ’21 / THE HAWK

New position gives commuter students additional support

In an effort to provide more support for commuter students, the university has created a new position for a director of transitioning students.

Nancy Komada, Ph.D., the former director of Adult Student Life, began serving in this new role last month.

Komada’s position falls under the Office of Student Success and will focus on supporting student populations with low retention rates, such as commuter students, transfer students and first-generation college students.

Bella Oliva ’21 was a residential student her first year at St. Joe’s before deciding to commute to save money this year.

As soon as Oliva became a commuter student, however, she said she felt a decline in assistance from the university. She found it difficult to juggle her schedule, stay connected to her friends and get information about clubs and activities on campus.

“For those of us who have to commute, I just wish there was more support,” Oliva said. “I wish someone was like, ‘Hey, I heard you’re commuting. Here’s some resources for you.’ I didn’t get that.”

That has been the experience for Ckyam Saint-Cyr ’19 as well. In her position as vice president of the Commuter Club, Saint-Cyr said she has witnessed just how significant that lack of support has been.

“We’re overlooked,” Saint-Cyr said.

Dan McDevitt, director of Student Success & First Year Experience, said Komada’s new role will give commuter students like Oliva and Saint-Cyr a point of contact, someone who can work specifically to address their needs.

“We haven’t had a solid go-to person for a long time,” McDevitt said. “Now with Dr. Komada taking over, I feel like we’re really going to help these students because they’re going to have that consistent person working with them.”

McDevitt said the university does not keep track of retention rates for commuter students, in part because it’s a population that fluctuates, but he knows that they are at risk for not graduating.

“As a campus where 96 percent of the freshmen live on campus, it’s a group that is definitely a higher risk of not connecting in and not persisting,” McDevitt said.

Komada said her primary goal in the new position is to see students through to graduation.

“It’s to hear their voice and to be their representative as people,” Komada said. “I think sometimes we’re the only encouragement that students have. It’s really a struggle, and it’s really a juggle.”

McDevitt said he thinks Komada’s new position is a step in the right direction.

“Hopefully this is showing them that the university sees you, we hear you, we want to help you,” McDevitt said. “Having somebody now whose role is going to be working with them, hopefully we’re showing them that we’re going to do what we can to make this a better experience for them.”

Daja Walker ’19, secretary of the Commuter Club, said there is a buzz among the commuter population about Komada’s appointment.

“We’re excited to be working with Nancy because it just seemed like nothing was getting done,” Walker said. “Ever since I’ve met her, I just felt as though she’s going to really help us.”

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