Meet Lily Russell, Graduate Assistant for Academic Support Services

Lily Russell
Lily Russell

Lily recently joined Penn State World Campus as a graduate assistant for Academic Support Services. In this blog post, she shares some insight about her role in assisting students with math and other academic resources.

Can you tell us about yourself and your background?

I’m from Prospect, PA, which is in Butler County, about an hour north of Pittsburgh. I graduated this past spring from Cedarville University, a small university between Dayton and Columbus in Ohio, with my B.A. in psychology. I am currently studying at Penn State to get my Ph.D. in school psychology.

How do you assist Penn State World Campus students in your role?

Primarily, my work at Penn State World Campus focuses on the Math Essentials program and helping students find out if it is a good fit for their math preparation needs.

Can you explain some of the services offered by the Penn State World Campus Academic Support team?

The Academic Support team offers a wide variety of services. We offer support in more than 90 courses, across a number of academic domains. A newer service that we’re excited about is our SmarterMeasure consultations. Incoming students take the SmarterMeasure assessment as part of the New Student Orientation process. My colleague, Kim Weisner, reaches out to students about consultations in which they discuss their areas of strength and concern as well as strategies that may be helpful.

Can you talk a little bit about the opportunities for students who participate in Math Essentials?

The Math Essentials program is an instructor-led, noncredit program that is designed for students who will be taking Math 4, 21, or 22 in the upcoming semester. Math Essentials occurs before the beginning of every semester (fall, spring, and summer), and it begins 4 weeks before the start of the new semester.

The Math 4, 21, and 22 courses all use a learning courseware called ALEKS 360 (which is from the same company as the ALEKS placement assessment, but it is not the same). One of the really great opportunities in the Math Essentials program is that students get to begin working in the ALEKS 360 courseware 4 weeks before the course begins. However, the ALEKS 360 courseware does have a fee associated with it (approximately $135), so we do not recommend that students participate in the Math Essentials program unless they will be immediately taking a course that will use the ALEKS 360 courseware.

Students who are interested in brushing up on math skills for an economics course, a statistics course, or a math course that doesn’t use ALEKS might want to check out Khan Academy. Additional resources are available on the Penn State World Campus Academic Support website.

Can you share any success stories from students who have utilized the services of the Academic Support team?

A group of students just went through the Math Essentials program and, in the post-survey, I was really excited to see how many told me that participating in the program made them feel less anxious about their upcoming math course and more confident about their math abilities. All of the students who filled out the survey agreed that they felt prepared to take their upcoming math course. We have also heard from many students who have found the support to be incredibly beneficial. Even though it is a new program, students really appreciate and seem to find useful the information that Kim provides in her SmarterMeasure consults.

What’s your favorite part of being a Penn Stater?

The feeling of being a part of something bigger and making a difference. With both my graduate program and my work with Penn State World Campus Academic Support, I have a very tight-knit group of people that I work with who feel like family. I love that I can work in that atmosphere and yet, still be a part of something much bigger and be able to make a difference on a much larger scale.