First year and transfer students are enjoying the First Stop Office, where they can freely come in and ask for help whenever they need it.
Dr. Karen Violanti – better known as Dean V – is the Associate Dean for First Year Students. Violanti has been working for McDaniel College’s first year students since 2008. When she first started working for the College, she noticed that there was no one-stop support system for first year students. Since then, she has had the idea of having an office where students can get the help in one place.
“Before, students had to go to many different offices on campus to get the help that they needed,” says Violanti.
The first year office was previously located in Academic Affairs. Students looking for help from Violanti had difficulty finding her because she was located in the back of the office. There was also not much office space for her to have meetings with students or even faculty members.
Violanti wanted to have one space where students would feel comfortable and obtain all the information they needed. In order to make this happen, she decided to propose her idea to Dr. Jeanine Stewart, who at that time was just starting her position as a provost at the college.
According to Violanti, Stewart quickly agreed to her idea, and she was very helpful throughout the whole process of finding and then moving in to a new office.
In March, Dean Violanti and her secretary, Edwina May, moved into what was formerly the Center for Faculty Excellence located in on the second floor of Hoover Library.
“The place is very spacious,” says Violanti. “We like to make it as homey and comfortable as possible for students.”
May says, “We absolutely love it. It is consolidated and everyone is in one spot.”
Violanti and May are now able to have First Year Council and peer mentor meetings in this office. May is very happy with this setup because now she and Violanti do not have to find a place or a conference room to hold the meetings, which was very difficult to do. According to May, students use the office on a regular basis to study.
Violanti also talked about where the name, First Stop, came from. She said that a peer mentor from last year suggested the name and Violanti approved the idea because she wants students to use the space as their “first stop” for help.
Violanti said that this is the first year that first year students have had the opportunity to enjoy a space like this one. Students do not always go there just asking for help – they also go to have fun. Every Wednesday, the First Stop office offers cookies and tea for their students. They offer different activities every day, and the space is always open for the first year and transfer students.