Miller Center Reaches Out to Every Rat
Lt. Col. Elaine Humphrey, director of the Miller Academic Center, leads a workshop with cadets Christian Neubaum ’12 and Frederick Dawson ’13. -- VMI Photo by Kevin Remington.
LEXINGTON, Va., March 1, 2012 – Since the beginning of the academic year, S-2 staff members have been working with the Miller Academic Center to provide each new cadet with the resources and skills necessary for academic success.
Elements of this effort included holding Saturday study skills workshops and designing and distributing the VMI cadet success planner, which helps cadets to manage their time effectively.
“With Lt. Col. [Elaine] Humphrey's help, the S-2 staff was trained in the planner's objectives. Each staff member represents a company in the Corps," said Cadet Carrie Wortham '12, regimental S-2 captain. "That company rep then trained the rats and monitored the planners' use throughout the semester. The MAC supplied all of the planners and any additional training.”
Cadet Cabell Willis ’14, an S-2 corporal and the Company B representative, spent time working face to face with new cadets and monitoring their performance.
“The rats have learned that managing time at VMI and succeeding academically are no small feats,” said Willis. “With the help and guidance of the S-2 staff, however, the rats, now 4th Classmen, have developed the skills necessary to ensure their future success.”
"I was held accountable to the program by meeting every week with a cadet facilitator,” said Cadet Wesley Jacobs '15. “I … saw my productivity skyrocket and my stress levels decrease. ”
Humphrey, director of the Miller Academic Center, is grateful for the support that S-2 staff provided through the year.
“Anytime I talk to a member of the S-2 staff, I walk away with information that will help me serve the cadets better," she said. "I really appreciate that."
Humphrey said the purpose of the Miller Academic Center is “empowering cadets to be extraordinary.” Humphrey has been the center’s director since last August. She is building upon 14 years of experience working with students at Virginia Tech, where she served as associate director for research and assessment in the Center for Academic Enrichment and Excellence.
Empowering the new cadets meant bringing out their full potential by providing them with tools that help them succeed during their time at VMI and beyond.
“We helped provide them with a skill-set that would last their entire cadetship," said Wortham. "The staff really tried to focus on addressing individual rats' issues, ranging from 'how can I get a better grade in calculus' to 'how can I manage my time better.'”
Cadet feedback suggests that the VMI cadet success planner has been an effective time management tool.
“One skill I took away from the sessions that was most beneficial to me last semester was the habit of writing everything to be done in my planner, even the tiniest of tasks, and then working to complete all of the them in the most efficient manner,” said John Richards '15.
S-2 staff members’ advice is informed by their own attempts at balancing academics with other commitments.
“The S-2 staff were helpful in the advice they were able to provide from their own experience at VMI,” said Richards.
Having gone through breakout on Jan. 28, the 4th Class cadets will receive a different kind of support from the S-2 staff going forward.
“I see the S-2 stepping back a little bit this semester,” said Wortham. “We can no longer treat the freshman class as a rat mass. So, as cadets, the 4th Class deserves a staff that is available, approachable, and knowledgeable. I see the staff continuing to help the 4ths improve themselves in academics.”
In addition to offering skills and knowledge necessary for success, the Miller Center recognized exceptional achievement among 4th Class cadets.
“After I earned a letter of completion for the program, I was offered a job by the MAC as a cadet facilitator for the second semester, which I accepted,” said Jacobs. “I really enjoy the program because I am learning new skills, helping my Brother Rats, and staying accountable.”
Just as the Miller Academic Center reached out to every rat, Humphrey believes that the Miller Academic Center should be a resource for every cadet.
“Nationally there is the perception that if you get support it's because you're not where you need to be academically. We want to be an academic success unit rather than an academic support unit,” said Humphrey, noting that even Honors cadets can benefit from the Miller Academic Center's programs.
– John Robertson IV