Perspectives on Student Success

Different paths, same extraordinary results

Learning practical skills through research experiences. Engaging in the arts. Serving as an ambassador with the Career Development Center. Living in the Exploratory Studies Village as a resident mentor. These are just a few of the outstanding opportunities students have explored within the Division of Academic and Student Affairs at NC State University. Our students may belong to the same pack, but their paths to success are as vibrant and varied as the programs and services we offer. NC State senior Michaela Rikard found her path to success through the Office of Undergraduate Research, which provides mentored research experiences to students. As part of a collaboration between the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Biomedical Engineering Department, she is working on a project dedicated to pulmonary fibrosis, specifically looking at how stem cell therapy can be used to regenerate healthy lung tissue. The research is currently in animal models, but her goal is to see it through to human clinical trials.

“The Office of Undergraduate Research supports students in finding these opportunities, pairing them up with mentors, offering grants, and they even hold a symposium every semester that’s specifically for undergraduate students to present their research,” says Rikard. “It’s been a wonderful growth opportunity for me. I’ve had several graduate school interviews over the past couple of months, and it just makes the process so easy because I have all of this research experience I can talk about and connect with at these interviews.”

NC State graduate student John Miller IV found his path to success through Arts NC State, which provides a dynamic offering of dance, design, music, theater, and crafts for students and the surrounding community. After graduating in the spring of 2015 with a degree in psychology, Miller began work on a master’s degree in the Higher Education Administration Program. As an undergraduate, he was a dancer in the Panoramic Dance Project, which gave him the opportunity to take technique classes, work with prominent guest choreographers and teachers, and perform choreography he helped create. His participation embraces one of the key points of Arts NC State – a student doesn’t have to major in the arts to be an artist.

“Not only did it help me grow artistically and academically, it helped me grow professionally.”

John Miller IV

“Engaging in the arts really allowed me to explore the intersection of arts, philosophy, and business. It really helped me critically think in my classes, it expanded my appreciation of art forms, and I was able to improve on my wellness, both physical and mental. It connected me with the community and really increased my sense of belonging,” explains Miller. “Not only did it help me grow artistically and academically, it helped me grow professionally.”

NC State senior Todd Goldfarb found his path to success through the Career Development Center. In addition to providing such resources as ePACK (a system for locating internships and entry-level jobs) and a co-op program, the center employs over 20 students to work as career ambassadors. Goldfarb, who is studying industrial engineering, served for three years as a career ambassador, presenting at such events as residence hall programs and sorority and fraternity programs on topics ranging from resume writing and career fair prep to interviewing skills and center services. He also represented the center at career and information fairs around campus.

“It’s been great. It’s been my family. It’s made the big NC State feel small,” he says when talking about his role within the center. “Not only has the Career Development Center helped me, it’s helped those around me. I’m able to connect with my colleagues and classmates and share the message and the tools and the resources.”

NC State junior Peyton Holmquist found her path to success through Exploratory Studies, a program focused on first-year students who want to explore different majors, and the Exploratory Studies Village, a living and learning community dedicated to first year Exploratory Studies students. She discovered an interest in communication and, after completing the program, she became a resident mentor, an upperclassman who has experienced the program firsthand who lives in the village with the students and acts as a resource.

“This program really allowed me to find my passion and figure out that studying communication is a lot more what I’m interested in,” Holmquist explains. “I think the best way to describe it is a concentrated, intentional community. It shows the balance between student life and also in the classroom.”

These students engaged in programs available at the university, finding what worked for them and exemplifying the idea that student success means different things for different students. It’s amazing to think of the infinite paths to success available to all students at NC State. What’s even more amazing are the sentiments echoed from these students’ stories: “I can talk about and connect…my sense of belonging…it’s been my family…a concentrated, intentional community.” Different paths, different focus, same feelings of connecting and belonging. It does all seem to go back to the pack.