Faculty voice:

Jenn Arbogast: Advancing scholars, assisting students

March 28, 2018

Jenn Arbogast (above right) is an academic specialist in the Social Science Scholars Program in the College of Social Science.

As the academic coordinator for the Social Science Scholars Program, I do a lot more than simply tell students what classes to take, as the name might seem to imply.

My job encompasses a large range of responsibilities, including connecting students with on-campus resources, working with communication staff to keep students well-informed, reaching out to prospective Scholars and the alumni who do so much for our students and assisting in planning and budgeting for the yearly study abroad trip. The most important aspect of my job, however, is simply stated: looking out for our students.

Working with the Scholars and seeing them succeed is what makes my job so rewarding.

Each year, we invite around 20 new Scholars to join the program, and with each new cohort comes an entirely new set of ideas, passions, fears, challenges, opportunities and potential. It’s my job to help foster their aspirations while making sure that anxiety is kept to a minimum, both in their personal and academic lives.

Our scholars are some of the most active, involved students on MSU’s campus, but sometimes that makes them prone to feeling burned out or overwhelmed. If there are any problems in their lives that are causing them distress or to lose confidence, my door is always open, and I am always happy to help guide them through whatever challenges they face or identify other resources that are available to them.

But, of course, keeping the students academically on track is important, too, and that’s another aspect of my role that I take very seriously. As I said earlier, the Scholars are a heavily engaged group, and they go above and beyond academically: it is entirely normal for our students to be double-majoring in subjects even out of our college. Many are also seeking external volunteer, extra-curricular and internship experiences pertaining to their major. I’m here to help with any and all of those things.

In addition, I help to assign mentors to them – both community mentors, who are usually MSU faculty or alumni established in a field matching the student’s interest, and peer mentors, who are some of the junior and senior Scholars who volunteer to lend a hand to those just starting out.

Assisting them in finding their way on their path towards graduation and connecting them with resources and opportunities along the way will set them up for a much more successful future, while also allowing for a diverse range of experiences while they’re still here at MSU.

After being a part of this program and working with the amazing people who make it happen and the awesome students we do it for, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Though it is always busy and sometimes stressful, to see our program take off and our students succeed, makes it all worthwhile.

I’m so proud to be a part of the Social Science Scholars Program, and I can’t wait to meet the fifth cohort that will be arriving in the fall.