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A Strayer student and her coach team up for success

Strayer University students are driven and motivated, but we all benefit from support on the way to achieving our goals. Strayer’s student services coaches provide personalized guidance for students from the first day of class through to graduation.

From courseload planning to navigating financial aid or overcoming personal challenges, coaches often serve as part counselor, part cheerleader, and part mentor—someone who can help when needed.

To learn more about what makes a successful coach-student relationship, Scholar spoke with Student Services Coach Tiffaney Palmer, who’s been working with Strayer students for more than six years, and alumna Tomeka Small (BBA ’19), who is a supervisor of regional administrative operations at the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

Q&A

How does the relationship between students and their coaches support academic success?

Tiffaney: I’ve often thought of pursuing a college education as a journey, and just like any journey, it helps to have a specific destination in mind and a clear path to follow. Coaches can help students clearly identify their goals and the steps needed to get there.

Tomeka: Having a supportive person on your side, especially when it’s someone within the academic community, really helps. I took my Strayer courses online, which was a little intimidating at first. You have to overcome a few barriers if you are used to a physical classroom, and it takes some learning to understand the technology. But being able to call or email someone and talk it through helps you greatly.

What did you find to be the key to success in your working partnership?

Tomeka: It’s really on each student to make the most of the relationship. Coaches are great about checking in, but you have to tell them when you are struggling or need advice. And, you have to be willing to receive the information and guidance from your coach. They are truly working in your best interest and will help you along your journey.

Tiffaney: Tomeka was the determining factor in her own success. I watched her sail past her goals and she impressed me significantly along the way. I still speak about her because it really was just so inspirational to see how she took the reins and made the program work for her.

Tomeka: Our relationship was great because we trusted each other. I trusted her to give me the information I needed, and she did. She delivered.

Tiffaney: I agree. When students take our guidance and put it to use, the path just opens up—they can see their objectives and goals and the necessary work to achieve those goals. Working with those students is a dream—I love to see them succeed.

What stands out to you when you look back on the student-coach experience?

Tomeka: When I started at Strayer, I was solely focused on getting my bachelor’s degree. But Tiffaney talked to me about how I could also earn an associate degree without deviating from my path, which was great. It was wonderful to have someone helping identify opportunities I didn’t even know were available.

Tiffaney: In my view, college is about exploring yourself and the world around you, finding what interests you, and making it work in your favor. When you seek to add to your own experience, instead of just trying to get the grade, that’s when you find success. That’s what happened when we discussed an associate degree with Tomeka—how could she take full advantage of the Strayer experience? She met this new goal with excitement and was able to take full advantage of the Strayer experience.

How did coaching play a role in your career path, Tomeka?

Tomeka: Once you experience a mentorship like this, you want to be that person for others, which is what influenced me to apply for the supervisor position I hold now. Sometimes, you see things in people that they don’t necessarily see in themselves. I would love to inspire someone like Tiffaney inspired me.