Student Life expands to create well-rounded student experience

September 8, 2017

Public Relations

Student Life at Palo Alto College leads the charge when it comes to student engagement outside of the classroom. With the support of grants and institutional funds, the department has expanded its personnel and services to provide wraparound resources, in which the staff collaboratively cares for the overall well-being of individual students. 

“Student Life really focuses on student clubs and organizations, engagement, the co-curricular experience, and that hasn’t changed. What we’ve added are the additional resources,” said Carlos Cruz, director of Student Life. 

The department is expanding with the help of three grants, Project Impacto, Healthy Futures of Texas BAEBSAFE, and The Healthy Hub Project. In December 2016, the College held the grand opening of the Student Health, Advocacy, Resources, and Engagement (S.H.A.R.E.) Center (Student Center 101), which serves as the hub for many of the new Student Life resources including the Goodwill Clothes Closet, food pantry, physical and mental health services, and social services. 

Aside from the physical space, Student Life also received grant funding to expand from a team of three people to a team of 15, and they plan to add nine additional part- and full-time positions during the upcoming academic year. With additional staffing, the department has also added programming for financial literacy, career advising, service learning, nutrition, and tutoring. 

“[The additional personnel] allows us to give more one-on-one interaction,” said Cruz. “Now we are providing in-depth service where we can case manage and provide data that these things ultimately improve student success and improve their retention and persistence.”

The services offered by Student Life can be summarized in four buckets:

  • Health and wellness services include free personal counseling, a mobile health clinic, and reproductive health (BAEBSAFE).
  • Advocacy includes financial literacy training, such as budgeting and emergency loans; and career preparation services, like resume assistance and mock interviews.
  • Resource includes access to healthier food options through the food pantry, free professional clothing in the Goodwill Clothes Closet, and social services through Daughters of Charity, such as health care referrals and utility assistance.
  • Engagement includes volunteer opportunities, service learning, various campus events, and involvement in student clubs and organizations.

While students are gaining educational knowledge in the classroom, the additional resources will help equip students with the skills needed to be successful day-to-day and remove barriers that may prevent a student from continuing their education.

“Ultimately, it’s giving students a more well-rounded experience,” said Cruz. 

All of the services are centralized in the Student Center building, so students can visit the S.H.A.R.E. Center (room 101), Office of Student Life (room 124), or Healthy Futures of Texas BAE-B-SAFE (room 129) to learn more about the resources available. 

“Centralizing the services for students is a big benefit,” said Delilah Marquez, director of the Project Impacto grant. “A student can go to any of these offices, and the peer advisors know where to take them.”

For more information, visit the S.H.A.R.E. Center located in the Student Center, room 101.