Story by Lauren Brooks
The transition to college can be a challenge. For Stephanie Djuzeu Wandji, the initial adjustment was particularly difficult. The Cameroon native had recently immigrated to the United States and for her, attending Kettering College meant being separated from her husband and young son who stayed behind in Virginia.
“I was so lost at the beginning—everything around me was new,” says Djuzeu Wandji, a recent alumna of Kettering College. “I had so many questions, but I didn’t feel comfortable saying them out loud until I met Bev Ervin in the Academic Support Center.”
Hundreds of students each year come to the Academic Support Center for services that include peer tutoring, learning style assessments, and help with stress management and test-taking skills. The center opened in 2002 and is led by Bev Ervin.
Visitors are greeted warmly and often given baked goods. Those who seem particularly stressed might even chill out with the center’s “emotional support animal,” a giant, stuffed teddy bear.
“Bev and I really connected, and soon I felt like I could ask her anything,” said Djuzeu Wandji. Other caring faculty members took an interest in Djuzeu Wandji, and before long, Kettering College began to feel more like home.
That sense of home and being part of a family is a common theme among Kettering College students, who come from different cultures, academic backgrounds, and phases of life to prepare for careers in medicine. Longtime faculty and staff members say it’s always been that way.
“Faculty and staff got to know the students by name and created real friendships with them,” says Stella Freeman, who has worked at the College since 1982. “Many students, now, have families and are working while still getting their education. The school works to meet the needs of today’s students, and the emphasis on creating a caring atmosphere is still there.”