Faculty Q&A with SJVC Temecula’s Dean of Student Services Tammy Moriarity
Tammy Moriarity has worn many hats during her 10-years with SJVC. They include Student Learning Resource Coordinator, General Ed Faculty, Faculty Coach and First Contact at the front desk, sometimes balancing two areas of responsibility simultaneously. The common thread was always one of support. If someone needed it, she was there to provide it.
Staff and faculty teamwork is the solid base she builds upon. “It’s important for us to develop those relationships, to stay connected on the Temecula campus,” says Tammy. “It’s why we all work so well together. We know each other, and you always want to help your friends.”
In her former role as Academic Coach for SJVC’s Southern region (Ontario, Hesperia, Lancaster and Temecula campuses), Tammy assisted ground students taking online courses and helped students navigate the format for online learning. “It was my responsibility to help keep students on track,” she says.
Recently promoted to Dean of Student Services for the Temecula campus, Tammy has broadened her level of student support for both online and ground students. “I try to find out what is going on in their lives that might be preventing them from completing their assignments and, if needed, help find someone to tutor them,” she offers. She has many resources of support for a variety of obstacles students may face.
Tammy does not wait for a struggling student to seek her help; she watches for signs, follows progress information and communicates with staff and faculty in order to intercept a student’s crisis-in-the-making.
What are some of the red flags that identify students who are starting to falter in their program studies?
If there is poor class attendance and grades are starting to slip, I get involved. It’s important to listen (to a struggling student) and develop trust. They have to feel safe with you to share their life. Then, it’s not just me solving their problems, it’s empowering them to come up with solutions to solve their problems. I’m just pointing them in the right direction for help. It might be a tutor, better planning or resources in the community. If outside help is needed, I give them the phone number, but they have to make the call.
How much support does the college provide when a student stumbles?
Our Financial Aid department, Admissions Representatives, faculty and Career Services department are all one big safety net of support. During a student’s first mod, Admissions calls once a week. Retention visits help build a rapport. And, if there’s still a problem, we come up with a plan to increase support. We don’t hand off the baton without a plan for successful resolution.
What kinds of problems are your students sometimes facing?
Many of our students still have kids at home (CoVid restrictions) and are trying to manage their Zoom calls and schoolwork. Someone might be on the edge of homelessness. For several months it’s been a struggle all around. Stress levels are intensified.
When they are overwhelmed and feel like giving up, I ask them to remember why they are here. They were so excited at orientation when a different career would mean a better life for their kids, and their families would be so proud. If they can get back to that passion that brought them here in the first place, it might help them to get through whatever that rough patch might be.
What is the college’s philosophy of student support?
It’s students first all the way. It’s our Temecula campus culture to have a common goal of student support and student success. It is safe to ask other SJVC team members for help. And everybody is willing to help. I love that.
What is your professional and personal commitment to student success?
I’m available morning, afternoon and evening and will answer the call for help from students in any model (of their program). I think communication is huge; developing rapport is huge.
Whatever plan of support we have in place for a student I make it a point to circle back around to check its progress or see that it is solved. Faculty is involved and we identify resources, then we follow through and close the circle. I’m coming back to the student and saying, “Hey, how did that work out for you?” And, if not, “Let’s try something else.” They understand that we are here to support them.
How wide is your reach of support?
Temecula has 525 students moving from 400 online. I would like to think I will connect with all 525. And I will support those who need it, whether a quick classroom ‘hello’ or a focused attention on someone who is struggling. I want to do it all. That’s my job. At our awards ceremonies and graduations, I want them to be proud of their successes.
I love what I do every single day. I love coming to work, who I work with, the rapport I have with students and seeing them successful, seeing them graduate.
What is the best possible outcome for your students?
Some of our students are the first in their families to go to college, the first to graduate. Sometimes they’ve been told all their lives that they’re going to fail. But when they graduate, they walk away with hard skills and soft skills and leave with a sense of confidence.
Sometimes I bump into them at the grocery store. They get so excited. They tell me they had a great experience (SJVC program), or they talk about their externship – and so many got hired by those extern sites.
It’s like we tell them at their orientation: “Stay focused, remember where your passion came from…and graduate! They have to believe it to succeed.”
How does SJVC create an atmosphere of student, staff and faculty support?
In general, this has been a tough time (pandemic, online classes, return to part-time classroom instruction). But we cultivate a sense of family and there is always someone to talk things through with.
When Richard Moriarity (SJVC Clinical Medical Assisting faculty member) and I got married last May (mid pandemic) we ended up having our wedding on Zoom for our 180 guests. We also streamed it for our SJVC family. Each person we work with was a part of our story together, and I was happy that so many of them were able to ‘join’ us on our special day. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Our RN to BSN program is a Bachelors degree completion option for Registered Nurses.