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Here to Help

April 22, 2022

Patti Beck, Coordinator of Academic Support Services
Patti Beck, Coordinator of Academic Support Services.
Patti Beck, Coordinator of Academic Support Services, talks with some of DSU’s tutoring team, including Vinny Campbell, Jonny Derenge, Tyler Thomas, Ryan Morganti, and José Magaña.
Patti Beck, Coordinator of Academic Support Services, talks with some of DSU’s tutoring team, including Vinny Campbell, Jonny Derenge, Tyler Thomas, Ryan Morganti, and José Magaña.

Patti Beck is here to help students, a motivation that has been the theme throughout her entire career.

Straight out of college with a Dakota State music education degree, she spent 10 years as a band instructor, helping students learn the joy of music.

She returned to the DSU campus to assist college students, first as Assistant Director of Financial Aid, then in Career Services, as part of the Student Affairs Department. Beck is now the Coordinator of Academic Support Services, overseeing tutoring and supplemental instruction, which is housed under Academic Affairs.

“In this role with Academic Affairs, it feels the most like ‘teaching,’” she said. Beck and her team of tutors help students with their coursework but also work to improve students’ study skills and time management.

“I really like finding students the help they need to be successful,” she said. “The Trojan Tutor team is trained to assist students in moving from thinking ‘I can’t do it’ to ‘I can’t do it yet,’ and to find ways to do that.’”

She also acts as a liaison for students. “If somebody comes in with an issue and I can’t answer it by myself, I know where to get the answer and make it happen.”

Beck has always put effort into finding new ways to make things happen for the benefit of students. She worked to create DSU’s first early alert system, a method for faculty and advisors to communicate with students who were struggling in class. It also notified the Student Success staff, who would reach out to the student. The program was homegrown and award-winning.

“In 2008, we presented our early alert program at the WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) conference and won the WOW (WCET Outstanding Work) Award for Excellence in Education programs.” The university now uses a mobile app called TrojanConnect to help students thrive, but the original program “shows we had the right idea.”

Beck was also instrumental in making sure DSU’s tutors are certified. These students are already subject matter experts, but to better learn how to communicate and work with people, they also receive training through the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA), and its International Tutor Training Program Certification (ITTPC).

“We are a certified program, so students can know that our tutors are experienced, but also approachable and friendly.”

And when COVID-19 changed the format for tutoring in Spring 2020, making all sessions virtual instead of mostly in-person, she was proactive. Beck contacted ITS, who found a free program to help them go from about 80 online tutoring sessions to over 600. This was very successful and now takes place through TrojanConnect. Now that in-person sessions are again offered, it has been surprising how many on-campus students prefer to schedule online sessions.

This reflects what she finds unique about the DSU environment. “Students are comfortable with technology because they need to be. Our students so easily move into new technology. They just are fluid with it.”

Her advice to any DSU student is simple. “Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, because on our campus, we’re here for you, no matter what help you may need.”

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