SANFORD, FL Allan Rumer likes to work on cars.
That’s why he wants to get an Associate in Science degree in Automotive Technology at Seminole Community College. But navigating the college admissions process can be confusing, especially for first-generation college students, and the Sanford man’s efforts kept stalling.
On his first day of classes, he discovered that he wasn’t completely registered – “probably my fault,” he says. A few days later, he learned that it was too late for him to pay for his books with financial aid.
“I was very frustrated,” says Rumer, 21. He knew where to turn, though: to Steve Curfman, one of five Career Program Advisers at SCC whose mission is not only to recruit students but also to make sure they get the help they need to complete their education.
SCC has used part of the money it receives annually from the federal Carl D. Perkins Postsecondary grant to fund Career Program Adviser positions in five areas so far: Automotive, Nursing, Health Professions, Information Technology, and Business and Legal Studies. The most recent grant award was $566,704.
“We’re step in to help students manage difficult situations,” Curfman says. “It’s a lot of coordinating with other departments.”
In the case of Rumer, that meant talking to officials in financial aid, registration and the book store.
If not for Curfman’s efforts, “I don’t know what I would have done,” Rumer says. “I probably would have been really lost. Nobody in my family has been to college. Nobody else knows what to do, so I
need someone like Steve to help me figure it out.”
Career Program Advisers like Curfman (seen here flanked by two SCC students) offer support to students, helping them overcome obstacles in completing their programs of study.
“I look at the transcripts every semester to see if they’reslipping up anywhere,” Curfman says. “If they didn’t pay for a class, I get involved with that. If they’re having grade problems, I talk to the instructors, and if they need to be connected with people in the academic lab for remedial work, I set that up. At any one time, I could be working with a couple of hundred students.”
His efforts have resulted in more successful students and higher graduation rates. For instance, the graduation rate for students with an A.S. in the Technicians Automotive Career Training track was 15 % in 2003; in 2007, it was 57 %.
Instructors say Career Program Advisers are invaluable.
“If I have a student who’s trying to register, I can’t leave my class to walk him through the process, but Steve can,” says Bill Weber, a professor in SCC’s Automotive Service Technology Program.
“You just pick up the phone and say, ‘I have a student with a problem,’ and Steve will take care of it.”
Students like Jason Rodriguez know the advisers are there to support and guide them. Rodriguez, 21, thought he was set financially for his fall classes.
“I had saved up money for school,” Rodriguez says, “but my car blew up on I-4, and I had a bunch of expenses. So I wasn’t able to pay for the class.”
After verifying that Rodriguez was working hard in his classes, Curfman got the Lake Mary student’s fees waived for part of the semester.
“He’s constantly fighting for us,” Rodriguez says. “He definitely jumps through hoops for us.”
SCC’s Automotive Program, with its state-of-the-art training center, teaches the industry’s latest skills using the most advanced technology. For more information, visit www.scc-fl.edu/automotive, or