Q&A with Kelsey Nestel, Student Success Manager

15 October 2021
Kelsey Nestel, Student Success Manager at the University of Hartford International Pathway Program (IPP).

What is your job at the IPP? What types of work do you do with international students? How do you help them?

I am a Student Success Manager. I track student performance in their classes and meet with them regularly to provide support. I also build and run most of the onboarding materials for students and will be teaching a transitions course this fall.

What is your favorite part of being a Student Success Manager?

My favorite parts of my job fall into two categories. I love working with international students. I know what it’s like to be living in and trying to navigate a new country, and I enjoy supporting them in what will be one of the greatest developmental experiences of their lives. Also, I love solving puzzles. How can we partner better with the Bursar’s office or advising? If students are consistently having trouble with some aspect of university life, what can we do to counter or pre-teach it?

When a new student arrives at the IPP, what are your priorities for them? What are the first activities that you’ll do with them?

We focus on preparing and supporting international students during pre-arrival (before they get to campus) and post-arrival (once they arrive in West Hartford). Before students arrive, we’ve tried to focus on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (safety, roof, food) with social engagement and academic readiness as students get closer to their arrival date. Once students arrive, our priority is making sure students feel welcome. We’re working to provide some basic setup in their rooms (like bedding) when they first arrive. It can make such a big difference toward feeling at home when you are coming off an international flight.

Do you have any best practices or tips that you share with international students when they first arrive on campus?

I’ve moved a lot. I’ve found the best way to get engaged (and engaged students tend to perform better academically) is to find a club or organization that does something you enjoy. Through this, you’ll find other people who enjoy the same thing, make friends, and practice your English outside of the classroom.

As a Student Success Manager, how often do you meet with students? What topics do you cover?

I meet with students every other week and weekly with at-risk students. In these meetings we review any alerts I have for them (teacher flags, to-do items, academic skills check-ins) and then review their course grades. If grades have dropped since the last time I saw them, we take a closer look to see if there is any missing work, if there are teacher notes, or if there is a topic they struggled with that needs assistance.

What activities are you looking forward to doing with students this fall?

I love board games and cooking. I’m really looking forward to doing live programming again with students in the fall. I think it is a great way for students to engage with each other and try something new.

How does the University of Hartford support international students overall? What organizations, offices, and/or groups are in place to help make these students feel welcome?

I’m fairly new to the University of Hartford (have only been on campus for a couple of weeks in Summer 2021), so I’m still finding all the resources. There is a caring and compassionate team in International Student Services (ISS) and the Office of Admission, in addition to instructors who actively reach out and respond when I offer support specific to international students.

There is an Asian Student Association on campus, and I look forward to working with them. The campus also has general student support in Tutoring and Writing Centers, the Career Studio, and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).

What inspired you to work in international education?

I have my MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) in English and went to South Korea with the Fulbright Program in 2014 where I worked with high school students and then college students for five years. I know I love the educational community that rises around international education. People tend to be more open minded, flexible, diverse in their own backgrounds and experiences. It’s a rich environment that I feel privileged to be a part of.

Interested in studying at UHart? Contact us to learn more about the International Pathway Program.

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