Alumni and Friends | University Community

Betsy Kunstel helps students plan the academic journey that's just right for them

While the lure of living in Athens often inspires alumni to wish they could spend another year here, alumna Betsy Kunstel's job in the College of Health Sciences and Professions is to help students find their Goldilocks time at Ohio University.

She helps students design an individual journey that is just right for them so that they can graduate on plan and on time.

As the college's assistant dean for student success, Kunstel manages a team of Student Services success advisors, "a relatively new group of uniquely talented professionals who are doing top-notch student service work," she said. "We are all committed to working closely with faculty and other staff to ensure students are as successful as possible."

One of the ways they help students plan for success is to help them plan for graduation.

Each new class of students now can opt in to Ohio Guarantee+ and into a customized graduation plan.

Planning for success

"Graduation plans and their associated components like milestones and story builders are especially valuable for students in the College of Health Sciences and Professions, where each of our programs are preparing students for specific careers in health care," Kunstel said.

"We are educating future nurses, social workers, and community health workers, just to name a few of the service-based professions where our students will make meaningful contributions.  Connecting students early with career resources, professional development and community engagement has an immeasurable impact," she said.

"Helping a graduating nurse connect with an externship, preparing an exercise physiology student for a physical therapy graduate program, and ensuring health care administrators secure high engagement internships are all part of why milestones and story builders are so important for our students," Kunstel explained.

OHIO's new advising model, with success advisors and faculty mentors, has created space for students to connect with faculty and staff in more meaningful ways.

"Our success advisors are experts on the nuts and bolts of graduation requirements, DARS (degree audit reports), and campus resources. They are keepers of important institutional knowledge and serve as a guidepost for students throughout their time at OHIO," Kunstel said. "While success advisors offer more hands-on direction for first-year students, they continue to light the way for juniors and seniors who just need to ensure they are on track."

Connecting with faculty mentors

As students get more involved in their majors, "this is where the faculty mentor relationship has space to shine. As students progress through their programs, now they have a formalized relationship to have meaningful conversations with our esteemed faculty who are scholars and experts in their disciplines. While our success advisors can’t speak to what it’s like being a registered dietitian in a neonatal intensive care unit, and what curriculum might best enhance that as a goal career, our faculty can certainly guide students in those meaningful discipline specific ways."

"The faculty in the College of Health Sciences and Professions are some of the most engaging, passionate and bright people I have ever had the privilege of working with. The opportunity for them to mentor without the burden of the business side of lifting holds and making campus referrals is a great benefit of the success advisor and faculty mentor model," she said. "With the adoption of each incoming class into Ohio Guarantee+ and opting into Graduation Plans, we hope to continue to grow our team and foster deeper connections across the college along the way."

While Kunstel is responsible for managing all aspects of the college’s Student Services and Student Success efforts, including academic advising, academic processes and procedures, recruitment, orientation, and learning communities, she knows what it's like to be a student with lots of things competing for their academic time. That's part of the OHIO experience, too.

"If I was coming to the College of Health Sciences and Professions as a first-year student, I would join one of our outstanding college-based student organizations right away! Our student organizations are wonderful places to make friends, establish lasting connections, network and get connected with all kinds of resources," Kunstel said.

Kunstel's "most favorite memories from my time as a student are Open Doors Dance Nights at Casa, playing board games at Donkey, and all of my classes in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies." Kunstel graduated with a B.A. in Women's Studies from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2008 and added an M.A. in Geography in 2016.

Read more about Student Services, academic advising and career resources in the College of Health Sciences and Professions.

April 13, 2023
Staff reports