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Student navigator program helps newcomers steer towards success

With the college experience bringing an array of academic, personal, social and institutional challenges, a new student could feel intimated and need some navigation.

The Student Navigator Program at Algonquin College is available to students who need direction around the college. Students who seek help from this program are paired with a student navigator matched through common interests.

“We want the program to be a personalized experience,” said Rox Chwaluk, student engagement officer at Algonquin. “Peer-to-peer connection is so important to us. Having a personal relationship with the students allow the navigators to go above and beyond.”

The program launched its pilot in the winter of 2017 and saw immediate success when it came to student engagement. “Student navigators are good-hearted people who want to see people succeed,” said Chwaluk.

All of the navigators are students at the college and nobody knows what a student is going through better than a fellow student. The navigators are able to relate to the students because they were once in a very similar position.

“Our goal is to guide the student in the right direction,” said Justin Bumgardner, second-year business marketing student and navigator. “Students seek help and we’re here to help them.”

The program currently employs 20 student navigators. The majority of navigators have held various leadership roles within the college before getting involved with Chwaluk and the program.

According to Chwaluk, student navigators are trustworthy, good problem solvers, helpful, organized and most evidently, great time managers, as they have to help navigate six to seven students on top of their own course load.

“The program gives us a great foundation to grow and flourish as people,” said Bumgardner. “We have found success so we want other people to be successful. There’s nothing more rewarding than helping someone who needs the help.”


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