This week, Villa Maria’s Achieve Program hosted a celebratory event and lunch in honor of the completion of the 2021-2022 academic year.
Laura Pietak, director of the College’s Achieve Program, began the event by sharing some impressive stats:
- This semester, Villa Maria College has 34 Achieve students total
- Achieve students attended approximately 2000 tutoring sessions through the academic year
- Attendance rates for Achieve students are about 70%
- 89% of Achieve students earned a GPA of 2.0 are higher in the Fall 2021 semester, and they are on track to do the same for the Spring 2022 semester
- 13 students are registered for Achieve for the Fall 2022 semester; this is already bigger than our freshman class from last year
Pietak credits a large part of the program’s successful year to its 9 professional tutors and 3 peer tutors. “Our tutors go above and beyond what’s required by law,” she said. “I’ve seen tutors running down to faculty offices just checking in to see what they can do to help a student.”
Jill Manka, Achieve’s career readiness specialist, spoke about the success of the Program’s Career Readiness Program, which helps students prepare to transition from college student to working professional.
“Thank you to the four different offices who welcomed interns from the Achieve Program with open arms: Development, Student Life, Admissions, and Career Services,” said Manka. “Despite having full plates, you welcomed students with open arms and helped them understand what it takes to work on a college campus.
The program concluded with the presentation of 4 student awards.
The awards were based on character traits. Winners were selected by collecting votes from Achieve staff, tutors, and students.
The Motivation Award was given to the student who shows how much they want to be in school and at Achieve, and that they want to learn and succeed.
- The 2022 Motivation Award winner is Irelis Reiner, ‘25
The Creativity Award was given to the student who is able to think outside of the box and is creative in all aspects of their lives.
- There was a tie for the 2022 Creativity Award: Ryan Santiago, ‘25 and Zenith Carbin, ‘24
The Organization Award was given to the student who is neat, on time, and has a plan for their coursework.
- The 2022 winner of the Organization Award is Mitchell Law, ‘25
The Team Spirit Award is brand new award that was given to the student who aligns with the College’s mission and values, has shown growth academically and socially, and is someone who advocates for themselves and demonstrates advancement in their career path.
- The 2022 winner of the Team Spirit Award is Emily Cott, ‘23
The decor for the event was also provided by Achieve students. Artwork from Achieve students studying animation, game design, photography and more adorned the walls in the Program’s common area.
An original, student-created sculpture was also installed just in time for the event. Three students — Alannah Frazier, ‘24, Veronica Cousins, ‘23, and Rosie Molik, ’24, — created an interactive piece that encourages students to share what makes them feel happy and safe.
The sculpture is a tree, and all members of the Villa community are invited to fill out a tag with the name of something that makes them happy. The tree’s branches were full of tags that mentioned things like from Starbucks, dance, friends and family, and more.
“It’s amazing to be reminded of the things that one person might find so miniscule means the world to someone else,” said Frazier.
Pietak looks forward to continuing to grow and support the College’s students with learning differences. “We’re excited to have new students and we’re thankful our current students have been so helpful in showing them what Achieve is all about,” she said.
Lunch was generously provided by Chef’s Restaurant, Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant & Banquet Facility, and Metz Culinary Management.