Student Support Specialist
Student support specialists provide case management support and intervention to students experiencing significant challenges. This includes academic and personal.
$45,000 - $80,000+
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Coordinator of Student Support at a University
I was born and raised in Montreal, QC. I am from an English-speaking Afro-Caribbean family and I attended a French elementary and High School. After High School (2005), I attended an English CEGEP (college in QC) for 2 years before I began my BA in Sociology (2008). During my studies, I always wanted to help people in conflict with the law. I started volunteering with Corrections Canada at a local halfway house for women. I was able to secure part-time occasional work there, while also working part-time at a call center. My mother was a single mother so I had to contribute financially while at school.
I thought after gradating with my BA, I would have been offered full-time or more regular hours at the halfway house but this was not the case. I ended up quitting and working full-time at the call center. It was for the Bank of Montreal. After a year of this, I decided to re-apply to school (I hated working for a bank), I applied for an MA in sociology at 2 different schools. I only got accepted into 1, and I relocated to Windsor, ON to complete my studies (2012).
I first secured employment as an Employment Counsellor (2013) for a French community college where I worked for 2 years until my dream job put out a post looking to hire a Probation Officer. In 2015, I started working for the Ontario Public Service as a Probation Officer for over 6 years.
I realised after 5 years of being a PO, I did not want to be in the career anymore. The systemic and structural issues were too much for me and my mental health and I started actively working on a plan to exit this field.
Throughout my professional career, I continued to volunteer in the community, creating a lot of connections and growing my network of contacts.
In 2020, I applied for a job at the University of Ottawa as a Coordinator of Student Support and I was successful. Although I did not have any direct experience in this field, I had a lot of transferrable skills and a lot of related volunteer experience that helped me to be a successful candidate in this role.
I did not choose this profession, the profession chose me.
What is your educational background?
BA in Sociology at Concordia University
MA in Sociology at the University of Windsor
What are your daily responsibilities?
• Provide case management support and intervention to students experiencing significant challenges. This includes academic and personal.
Serve as point of contact to mobilize support and address students’ needs by advocating and facilitating student access to supports on campus as well as community resources.
Liaise with various campus services such as Counselling Services, Academic Accommodations, Academic Support Service Unit, International Office, Residence Life, Faculties, and other campus and community resources and partners.
• Facilitate training sessions for faculty and staff on key topics related to student support such as mental health, trauma-informed care and sexual assault disclosures.
What advice would you give to the 15-18 year old version of yourself?
Don’t assume the worst.
Communicate openly and effectively. Set boundaries.
Let go of your past. You are not your mistakes.
Cut people off you need to.
Take care of your mental health. If something is negatively impacting your mental health, create space between you and that person or thing. This includes relatives and close friends. Moving away helped to improve my relationship with my mother.
You will never know unless you try.
It takes more effort to think about the worst thing that could happen than it is to think about the future possibilities.
When one door closes, another one opens.
Nothing everything you think you want or think you need is meant for you.
Provide 1 0n 1 support to students
Offer workshops aimed to build student achievement and overall well-being
Provide valuable resources to students and act as a liason between services and the students
Employed by educational institutions (Colleges/Universities)
Some are self employed
The work can be very rewarding. Watching the development of students improving overtime.
Attributes & Abilities
Analytical and problem-solving skills
Organized & detail-oriented
Leadership (GPP3O) (Recommended)
Designing Your Future (GWL3O) (Recommended)
Cooperative Education (Recommended)
*5 Additional 4U/M Courses For University Candidates*
Student Support Specialist
Have a questions about this career?
(647) 968 – 3304
4 Aquila Court
Etobicoke, ON M9W 5J2