Just before the end of 2021, Villa Maria’s Academic Affairs Department announced that three of its staff members had accepted new roles within the College.
Laura Pietak has been promoted to Director of the Achieve Program
Laura brings more than 10 years of experience to her new position, 3 of those years being the assistant director for Villa Maria’s Achieve Program. In that role, she worked directly with Achieve students to provide them with the support needed for them to successfully transition from high school to college. She provided mentorship, academic, internship, and career advisement, and helped students connect with the slew of additional support services available on campus. Laura also oversaw the Achieve tutoring staff, developed intervention strategies for students facing academic probation, oversaw testing accommodations, and served as an academic advisor for all first year Achieve students.
“Laura has been hard-working, organized and approachable in her role as assistant director of the Achieve Program,” said Dr. Hartnett. “She has a wealth of experience and knowledge, and has already gained a well-established rapport with students, parents, and non-profit partners. In her new role, Laura will lead and direct the Achieve Program for Students with Learning Differences. She is responsible for planning and implementing the program’s services, supervising its staff members, assessing the program’s effectiveness, and collaborating with faculty and staff to ensure the success of the program.”
Laura received her Bachelor of Arts in History and Adolescence Education and her Master of Science in Adolescence Special Education, both from Canisius College.
Lisa Kraska accepted the role of Assistant Registrar
Lisa has been a valued part of the College community since she joined it in early 2020. In her previous role as the administrative assistant for academic affairs, Lisa helped the College launch its free books program by ensuring that students received the correct materials for each of their courses. She also helped to plan and execute Workforce Development events, including the College’s annual summer camps, and she assisted with other major academic events like Honors Convocation and Commencement. Additionally, Lisa helped to maintain the College’s immunization database record, oversaw front desk operations, assisted with the health screening process, and performed a wide range of administrative tasks.
“Lisa has prior experience working as an assistant registrar and has consistently demonstrated her dedication, organization, and dependability here at the College,” said Dr. Ryan Hartnett, Villa Maria’s vice president for academic affairs. “In her new role, Lisa will assist the Registrar with the maintenance of student records, plan registration schedules each year, coordinate class schedules and room assignments, and help update the College announcements provided to students each year.”
Lisa received her Bachelor of Science in Social Work and her Master of Science in Student Personnel Administration, both from the State University of New York College at Buffalo.
Aryanna Denk has been promoted to Assistant Director of the Achieve Program
Aryanna came to Villa Maria College in 2020 as the lead professional tutor for the Achieve Program. In this role, Aryanna offered one-on-one tutoring to Achieve students in specialized subjects, including creative writing, reading comprehension, literature, and more. She also developed workshops that focused on preparing Achieve students for college, learning self-advocacy, and sharing general tips for success. All of her work was in done in accordance with the guidelines provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Additionally, Aryanna helped to oversee all of Achieve’s professional tutors and rotating peer tutors, represented the College at recruiting events, and helped to create meeting schedules for tutors and students. She has also served the College as an instructor of record for English 103, a writing tutor in the Student Success Center, and an assisted language lab instructor in English.
“Aryanna has made her presence felt in the Achieve area over the past few semesters, both as a tutor, and most recently as Lead Tutor, said Dr. Hartnett. “She has a deep background in the area of disability and has developed a great rapport with our students. In her new role, Aryanna will take on the responsibility of implementing the program’s services, advising and coaching students in the program, assessing the program’s effectiveness, and collaborating with faculty and professional tutors to ensure the success of the program.”
Aryanna earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from Canisius College and her Master of Fine Arts in Fiction from Bowling Green State University.