Millersville University strives to be the kind of institution prospective students are excited to join. Through innovative programs, engaging extracurricular activities and supportive faculty and staff, there are many reasons a student might choose to join the campus community. But staying engaged, and overcoming personal challenges, is a separate, and equally important task. This is certainly true this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial tensions we are currently witnessing. These events have drastically changed the lives of our students and our students’ needs to stay academically resilient.
Here at Millersville, the Academic Resilience Initiative is an innovative advising and retention initiative designed to help students persist and graduate college despite the odds. In an era of increased social media communication, the initiative is dedicated to developing short, personal video clips from Millersville faculty and staff to share their stories in the hope that students will be inspired. The goal is to expand this initiative to include stories of resilience from alumni as well. Knowing what those around you have been through, can help to put your own experiences into perspective and show you what’s possible to overcome to improve your circumstances and to make the world a better place.
“Narrative storytelling is an effective tool to inspire student success,” says Dr. Margaret Mbindyo, assistant professor in the Department of Academic Advisement and Student Development. Her research and passion for student success is at the base of this initiative.
“When faculty and staff share their own personal struggles, students are able to understand and connect with them better, and are empowered to build their own academic resilience,” she continues. “When students know their professors went through something similar to them, they are more likely to seek more help not just in class but outside of class.”
Resilient students are characterized by:
- A deep knowledge of who they are, where they are coming from and where they are going
- Being able to accept a new reality
- Having a positive outlook on life even though it may be hard sometimes
- Proactively dealing with challenges, problems and setbacks
- Admitting they need help and seeking assistance when they need it
- Attending to the demands of their academic/work and personal lives successfully
- Being flexible
- Shunning negativity and embracing positivity
- Taking the time to reflect and moving forward empowered
- Having a sense of self efficacy
- Pursuing mutually respectful relationships with others irrespective of their background
- Being goal oriented and having a sense of purpose
“Now, more than ever, when students cannot physically interact with faculty and staff, it is important for those emotional bonds to remain strong,” says Mbindyo.
Students can watch videos, access helpful information and learn more by visiting the Academic Resilience webpage, which also has links to academic resilience resources. Faculty, staff and alumni who are interested in being interviewed for an Academic Resilience video should contact Mbindyo at Margaret.Mbindyo@millersville.edu.