After multiple faculty members achieved the task of bringing all Pacific tutoring institutions into one location, the next goal was to find a director that would allow the Tutoring and Learning Center to achieve its multiple goals.
The new Director of the TLC Yashica Island feels that this new challenge is one that she is very qualified for and is therefore, the right woman for the job.
“My whole career has been helping students get ready for college,” said Island, the former Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Program Coordinator for Portland State University.
Although Island feels that her experience in higher education institutions prepared her for her new role at Pacific, it is important to note that she also previously had responsibilities with tutoring centers at PSU. Island was the adviser for the tutoring center there and said that her duties were similar to the ones she has now.
But even before she got to the confidence level she has for her position now, Island first had to go through an interview process with several faculty members that she admitted made her realize her own doubts about the position. Not only had Island never been a director for a center like the TLC, but she was also only given one formal interview. This made Island wonder who the other candidates were for the position and how some could undoubtedly be more qualified than her for the position.
However, it was not only the confidence in her career experience but in herself that made Island eventually assert, “If I can just get in the interview, I can sell them,” she said.
Although she may still be slowly getting settled into her new office, a small corner of the TLC that is closed off by two cubicle walls and a door with no handle, Island is glad to say that she was pleasantly surprised with some of the differences she saw between Pacific and PSU.
“It seems more intimate,” said Island, “it’s more like a family than it is a business.”
Alongside the positives of being on a small campus community that allows her to better get to know her colleagues and peer tutors, Island noted that there was another detail that surprised her.
“There are a little more politics than I expected in a small institution,” said Island. She explained that with so much history and tradition upholding the campus, difficulties could often arise in many processes.
One of these difficulties applies to the students that Island will be working with. Because the TLC is a new concept that many students and peer tutors have not pursued before, Island said, “I know I’m going to get a lot of resistance,” and explained further, “some people aren’t good with change, no matter what the change is.”
One of these changes that Island is undertaking alongside the TLC is the process of finding more peer tutors. Island said that it is not always simple to find peer tutors that are a good fit because “students feel that because they know a subject, they can tutor it. But that’s totally not true.”
Island hopes that students and peer tutors can first and foremost build relationships because it is effective in making students want to return and feel “This is a place you want to go and you will be treated well,” said Island.
More specifically, Island understands that part of the basis on which she was hired is her strengths in connecting with students of color and first generation college students. She said that she wants these students especially to be able to look at the TLC see and know, “It is definitely a safe haven.”
A way that Island plans to advocate for these students is by developing the Pacific Leadership Academy because she said that a weakness she has noticed is “someone is not working with the leaders we already have here.” So the goal Island has for the academy is to connect with leaders of any and all campus clubs and organizations to help them find ways to reach out to students and collaborate ideas of how to be more effective leaders.
Island’s new role may be one that has more than one responsibility but she has a positive outlook for what can truly be achieved. She said, “I have felt very welcome coming here.”