Spotlight Series: Jennifer Flores
February 22, 2021
For college students, a sense of belonging has been known to impact academic success and emotional wellbeing. When it comes to student engagement outside the classroom, Student Life leads the charge at Palo Alto College.
During this time of remote learning, when the need for student engagement has never been greater, Jennifer Flores, Interim Director for Student Success, and her team at Student Life have adapted to connecting with and supporting students through a virtual space.
“I think it’s essential that we have an outlet for our students, specifically during this time because we can’t be on campus,” said Flores. “We have a lot of individuals that are at home, not able to get out as they normally would. There is a lot more that our college has to offer outside of the classroom, and that’s where Student Life comes in.”
Student Life offers engagement opportunities like volunteerism, service-learning, college events, and involvement in student clubs and organizations.
“We are very fortunate to have a creative and collaborative staff on board at Student Life that works with other departments across the college to ensure we have student engagement outside of the classroom,” said Flores.
The team has taken the lessons learned from the transition to remote operations and student feedback from social media polls to infuse innovation into their programming. This has resulted in the introduction of Social Circles, a weekly digital social hour where students can socialize, network, and develop professional and interpersonal skills.
Through the Social Circles series, students have the chance to participate in various activities, including food demos, fitness hours, health and wellness tips, conversations with PAC counselors, and career readiness. Beyond that, the team has made a concerted effort to support students’ mental health by bringing stressing the importance of self-care and enlisting the help of PAC counselors.
“During these events, the students have made comments about how they really look forward to this [Social Circles]. It helps with their mental health because they get to talk about a variety of topics,” said Flores. “We’ve invited our mental health counselors to come in and guide those conversations.”
Additionally, Student Life has integrated into their programming social justice and equity sessions to support PAC’s Access, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity (AIDE) committee – part of a districtwide initiative at the Alamo Colleges District to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Last fall, these virtual sessions covered a range of topics like the future of policing and systemic racism in higher education, among others. Though, for Flores, the conversation doesn’t stop there.
“The basis for the AIDE committee is to bring awareness to various topics of social justice,” said Flores. “Our goal for the spring is to really dive in and have those conversations with our students, faculty, and staff.”
Student Life will be hosting several AIDE committee events that provide ally training to support students of diverse backgrounds and build an understanding of implicit bias. Additional programming highlights for the Spring semester include Women’s History Month, a virtual job fair, pop-up market volunteer opportunities, various Social Circles events, and Meet the Coach sessions with PAC Athletics.
The team will also continue their partnership with AARP to provide their members with free virtual workshops focused on healthy and active lifestyles. More information on these workshops can be found on the AARP website.
To stay up to date with Student Life, visit the Alamo Experience website, follow them on social media via Facebook @PACStudentLife and Instagram @PAC.StudentLife, or contact them by emailing PAC-Studentlife@alamo.edu.