Dr. Charmaine T. Cruise in the Academic Advisement Center. Photo credit: Charmaine Cruise.
By Angel Adegbesan
Within 10 weeks of her appointment as the director of the Academic Advisement Center, Charmaine Cruise has already started making changes. She came to York with plans to improve and upgrade students’ interaction with the advisement center.
Cruise wants to implement “untraditional” ways to advise students. She wants to shift the culture of how academic advisors see themselves and how they are looked at by the students. She hopes to increase four-year graduation rates by providing excellent academic advisement.
“We looked at the information available and saw our numbers were low,” said Cruise regarding the incoming freshman students. “What we needed to do was build relationships. We would invite them to York College generating excitement about being a part of the Cardinal family. It helped us to get a greater turnout. We’re going old school, and we are being proactive about calling and connecting students with their choice which is York College.”
One of her plans for getting greater turnout at the Freshman workshops involves integrating students into the workshops so incoming freshmen can become inspired via a peer relationship. Cruise said the plan is to use students and alums to give testimonies in the workshops to help release incoming students’ tension and inspire them to grow.
“We went from four students out of 20 to 17 students out of 17, and sometimes 20 students out of 20,” said Cruise.
There are over 60 workshops planned for the next academic year from April 26 to the last week before classes officially start in the Fall 2018 semester.
Another plan is to reach students through mobile advisements. Cruise believes advisors will be easily available to help students in different places on campus and cater to their needs. Yet another plan involves redecorating the waiting room area at the center. Cruise said the aim is to create a space that represents college spirit and student-friendly support for academic advisement.
Cruise brings more than 15 years of experience in student retention, academic advisement, career services and transfer services to York. She has worked at both four-year and two-year institutions, including CUNY’s Guttman Community College and Hostos Community College.
Cruise earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and completed her Master’s in Management and her Doctorate in Education at Regent University with a focus on institutional accreditation. Cruise has extensive practical experience overseeing different types of advising models.
“I enjoyed it,” said Fabiola Cameau, a college assistant for the academic advisement center and former York student who has participated in the freshmen workshops. “This is my first time doing it. I enjoyed helping students one on one and choosing their schedule. I wish I could do more.”
“I have a lot of mentors in my life,” said Cruise. “I believe in doing great work because your work will speak for you. Your empathy will also speak for you. Be both. I try to be both with my staffs and students.”
Lelosa Imasuen, a college assistant who is involved in the advisement process of incoming freshmen, said the advisement center has not had a director since she started working there more than two years ago.
“[Cruise] has been revamping the place and she is bringing a different kind of energy,” said Imasuen. “I have gained more responsibilities and I feel like I will be able to move up. It is kind of like building you up to be responsible.”
Imasuen also acknowledged that the numbers of incoming freshmen getting advisement has been increasing.
“Lots of people focus on destination and just getting from A to B,” said Cruise. “But it’s all about enjoying the journey. I love the work that I do, supporting students and developing staff. I’m hoping to build more connections with the community.”