New UWT office provides a safety net for struggling students

The Office of Student Advocacy and Support — UW Tacoma’s newest program designed to support students — opened its doors winter quarter of 2018. The new office is organized under the Department of Student Engagement and will provide individual guidance and support to students who are struggling — academic and otherwise.

The new office — utilizing a case management approach to assist students — represents a partnership between Student and Enrollment Services and the social work and criminal justice program. Some of the major concerns were homelessness, food insecurity and other issues students may face which hinder their academic goals.

Roseann Martinez, assistant director for Student Advocacy and Support, was charged with both case management and designing the program. Martinez, a professional social worker, will be the person of contact, helping students who seek assistance through her office.

Graduate student interns from UWT’s social work program will be joining Martinez in June of 2018.

“My job is to help students overcome barriers that would prevent them from achieving their academic goals,” Martinez said.

When working with a student, Martinez focuses on four fields of need: physical and mental health, basic needs, social needs and academic needs.

Depending on the individual student’s needs, they could be pointed in the direction of on-campus services — like the Student Counseling Center, financial aid options, UWT’s Pantry, student organizations and the Teaching and Learning Center — along with numerous off-campus and community resources.

Martinez explained an important goal when working with a student is assisting them in navigating both campus services and community services.

“I am going to help you find resources and support to assist you,” Martinez said.

The Office of Student Advocacy and Support allows students to work collaboratively and personally with a case manager. Martinez emphasized the importance of personal advocacy and support for students who are struggling.

A student struggling in any of these areas can approach the office directly or be referred by someone else — such as a friend, faculty or staff member. The student will be asked to provide background information on their current situation and indicate any need in the aforementioned four areas.

Martinez will provide the student with personal support, collaborate on goals and act as an information point for various on-campus and off-campus resources. A follow-up appointment will be scheduled to check on the status of the goals discussed in the first meeting and to provide any additional help.

Students simply need to ask for help to receive all of the support and resources of Martinez and the Office of Student Advocacy and Support.

“There’s no shame in getting help,” Martinez said.

She wants students to know that asking for help is a strength and her office will provide a safety net for UWT students.

If you or someone you know could use the support
offered by the Office of Student Advocacy and Support,
visit their website or fill out an online referral form at:
catalyst.uw.edu/webq/survey/stusuppt/346410

PHOTO BY MEILING SPROGER
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