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GPI - Allison Chisholm, Associate Director of Academic Success at CASA 

Courtesy of Allison Chisholm

By Dylan Pichnarcik

Asst. News Editor

By Alexis Schlesinger

Editorial Staff

What is your academic and professional background?

I graduated from Framingham State in 2011. I have an undergrad degree in sociology and a minor in psychology - and then I worked at Framingham State part-time for about a year. I then,  went to grad school at Merrimack [College] to get my master’s in higher education in 2013. Since then, I’ve been in CASA (Center for Academic Success and Achievement).

Did you know you wanted to return to FSU after you graduated?

Yes, I think I had decided later in my undergraduate career that going into higher education was something that I wanted to do. I came to Framingham State. I started as an education major because I thought I wanted to be a classroom teacher. Then I thought about it more and I decided, “Oh, I don’t think I really want to do that.” But I still wanted to work in education. Then, seeing different folks on campus and the jobs that they did, I thought working with college students was something that I could really be good at and enjoy. I always wanted to work in education and then I decided higher education was something I wanted to do when I got my master's and was looking for jobs. Working at a state school was really important to me because I felt that I got such a great education at Framingham State. So while I was definitely open to working at Framingham State, I definitely wanted to stay within the state system. But the stars aligned and there was a job available in CASA. So I applied and got it! So I was happy to come back. 

What is a unique program currently offered by CASA? 

We host a lot of different programs. Obviously, part of my job is overseeing all of the tutoring that happens here in CASA - so professional math and writing tutors who are available during all the hours that CASA is open, and our student subject tutors. We also offer supplemental instruction, which is course-specific.  We also do things that I am not directly involved in. Some of my other colleagues do a lot of work around students who are in their first semester of college - and we do some first-generation programming. So I can’t highlight the best thing here, but I think that’s kind of the beauty of it. There’s something for everyone - whether you want to receive tutoring in a certain subject area, you want to be a part of some of the Generation One initiatives, or whether you want to work in CASA, or even just utilize the space. 

What is one aspect of your job that is unique?

Something that is a little bit newer, I think, is that I oversee all of the Rams 101 first-year seminar peer mentors. This past fall was the first year that we offered all Rams 101 first-year seminar sections. So we had 27 sections in the fall. That’s been a newer part of my job the last few years which I think is unique. I like working with them because I’m hearing what’s going on in their classrooms and giving them some information to share with their first-year students to help them get acclimated to Framingham State. In this position, I get to work with a lot of different students. There’s not one particular subset of students that I work with. I work with students who are high-achieving academic leaders who are tutors for us, or mentors. I also work with students who are still trying to find their way in college and might be on academic warning their first semester. I have good conversations with them to help them try to set goals for the future - to help them achieve that. So I think that’s also unique.

What is something students would not expect about you? 

I think probably that I’m a reality TV junkie. We talk about it as a staff, but I love The Real Housewives and “Below Deck” and all of those silly shows. That's probably something people might not expect. I like to cook and bake. 

Are there any new programs that are going to be implemented in the future?

A lot of things are just ongoing. I think one of the things that will be coming up over these next couple of weeks that students should keep an eye out for is on their Starfish accounts. We help coordinate something called early academic alert. So faculty have the chance to voice any early concerns that they may have about a student's progress. So I would really encourage students to sign into their Starfish and look for what we call flags. What we would hope for is students would then have conversations with their faculty members. If they did raise a flag, if it’s about attendance, or if it’s about missing assignments, that then opens the door for the students to have a conversation so that they can get back on track. Then in CASA, we do a lot of student outreach around Starfish flags so if a student hears from us, or if we invite them in for an academic coaching meeting, [students] know that it’s not meant to be punitive. We really just want to hear about what’s going on and help them set goals to overcome those things. So that’s the kind of stuff coming up over the next couple of weeks - that they’ll be hearing a lot about.



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