Joseph Seal is the Academic Support Coordinator for the Tutoring and Learning Center (TLC) along with the Course Achievement, Retention, and Engagement (CARE) Center. In 2013, Seal attended the Urban Education’s Summer Bridge Program, which he said “changed his life”, as Seal connected with new friends, one who would become is wife, the program enabled him to prepare for college.
In 2017, Seal graduated from Westfield State with a bachelor’s degree in communication with a minor in art. Seal soon after began working for the Banacos Academic Center as a part-time tutoring assistant. “I returned to the Nest and never left,” Seal said. “It’s fantastic.”
Now, as part of the CARE Center, Seal works with Nicole West, Director of CARE, and Majorie Rodriguez, Assistant Director of Student Access and Support, to provide academic support to students who need help with tutoring, finding resources, and engage with the recently developed “CARE packages,” which both feature collaborative and one-on-one workshops focused on cultivating skills such as time management, note taking, professional etiquette, and reading comprehension.
“College is new for a lot of people,” he said. “This is a lot of people’s first time stepping into higher education, so there’s room for growth. There are areas where I felt, from my time as a student, where I thought, ‘I wish I knew that sooner.’
Group collaborations between departments including the Counseling Center, Financial Aid office, the TRIO Student Support Services Program, and the Career Center are important to understand the full scope of his charge at the CARE Center Workshops range from 45 minutes to an hour and include hands-on learning, such as deep breathing techniques and mindfulness. “I want them to feel like the CARE Center is here for them,” Seal said. “We’re open the same hours as libraries, from 8 a.m. to midnight most nights. You really have that opportunity.”
Before the CARE Center was formed in January 2022, Seal said he was often in collaboration with the Banacos Academic Centerto develop Zoom workshops that help students with similar skillsets, though he found that having representatives from the departments themselves would be even more beneficial. “My goal is to eliminate that middleman and have the support coming to them, instead of having the students seek out the support,” Seal added. “We’re expanding even more now.”
The most popular CARE package, Seal said, are the workshops that focus on developing time management skills. Softer skills, such as being proactive and advocating for support, is a close second, since those who seek out resources beforehand have the benefit of practicing those skills for a longer period of time. Feedback from students has also been overwhelmingly positive, with attendees earning scholarships, successfully presenting projects, and polishing resumes for job offers. Besides the CARE packages themselves, the Center offers a variety of resources, including tutoring and one-on-one assistance for students whose needs call for a well-rounded, multi-faceted approach.
“Open the door and come in,” Seal said about the CARE Center. “You will be greeted, and you will be welcomed. It’s a space for everyone.”