By Jonathan Baca, Copy Editor | Photos by Jonathan Baca
The old book store on Main Campus has been transformed into a lush, comfortable and more accessible area for students to access a wide range of services, said Executive Director of CNM Connect, Ann Lyn Hall said.
The new space was revealed on Monday, January 21, and combines the offices of CNM Connect, Student Activities, SAGE’s Adult Basic Education and the CNM Call Center into one open and inviting location, with the goal of making it easier for students to access all the services they need, Hall said.
“I think people are really excited about the new space. It really gives us an opportunity to collaborate and expand, and provide additional services for students,” Hall said.
Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, Eugene Padilla said the transformation has been in the works ever since the new book store was being built, and it is part of the larger initiative to expand the role and mission of CNM Connect.
“When the new book store was built, this really gave us the opportunity to renovate this area and make it CNM Connect. It is a great opportunity to bring together a lot of the support services,” Padilla said.
When students first enter, they walk into a large area where the CNM Connect offices are, with access to Achievement Coaches, a comfortable area filled with couches and chairs, and eventually, a computer lab with 29 computers, printers and a copy and fax machine, he said.
Achievement Coach Chioma Heim said achievement coaches can help students with a variety of issues, including life skills and financial literacy, scholarships, and access to resources in and out of the classroom.
“I think it is going to allow more students to come in here and be able to just have a place where they can feel comfortable, where they feel like this is their space. They can use the computers, or just talk to someone who actually cares about their success all around, not just with education, but with life success as well,” Heim said.
Padilla said students can also be screened for benefits like SNAP food stamps, housing benefits, and child care help.
Director of Adult Basic Education, Carol Culver said SAGE’s new Adult Basic Education office is around the corner, where GED and English second language students can get help with registration, Achievement Coaches, and help when they want to make the transition to college level courses.
Culver said the new space is a big upgrade from their old office in Ken Chappy Hall, not only because of the bigger space and closer proximity to the other service offices, but because it makes it easier on their students.
“The main thing that’s important about this move for us is that our students who are ESL and GED students are now entering the campus in the same building that all the other students are. They don’t have to be told to go to this other place, and then they get lost. We’re thrilled about that,” Culver said.
The new Student Activities office is in the back of the new space, where students can go to get their IDs and bus passes, and the new Call Center also has a new, high-tech office in the space, Padilla said
Another major benefit for staff and students is the greater ease that all the offices will have collaborating with each other, now that they are all under the same roof, Hall said.
“I always think that when people are closer to one another, it’s easier for them to collaborate, but even more than that, I think it’s easier for students, and that’s what it’s about. How do we make things flow in a way that makes sense for students?” Hall said.
Culver said that the collaborating has already begun, and now what used to be hard to coordinate, through phone calls and emails from across the campus, can be done simply by walking down the hall.
Students should also be able to save time because they can get everything done in the same place, and can use the new computer lab instead of having to walk all the way to the SRC, Hall said.
The other major goal of the space is to be an area where students feel welcome to just hang out, sit down and relax, Padilla said.
“One of the things we know about student success is that students look for gathering spaces, places where they can kind of sit back, relax, read a book or even do homework, and this provides them with that,” Padilla said.
Couches will be complete with outlets for laptops, and there will even be a collaborative learning area where students can get together to do work on group projects, Hall said.
By creating an inviting space where students feel comfortable, Padilla said he hopes more students will be encouraged to take advantage of CNM Connect, and all the services that have been gathered under the same roof.
“Part of the CNM Connect initiative is to provide integrative support services, and provide a welcoming and nurturing environment in which students feel comfortable when they come to school,” Padilla said.