ABERDEEN, S.D. – As Northern State University’s new coordinator of retention services, Andria Moon is making sure NSU students receive the support they need to succeed.
Moon began July 9 in the new position, which is part of Northern’s overall efforts to increase student retention and graduation rates. These were identified as areas for improvement in the campus strategic plan and by consultants who visited campus in January.
Moon, a first-generation college student, said the connections she made with other students, faculty, and staff helped her to succeed in college.
“We need that here,” she said. “We need to make sure students are getting connected.”
Moon’s job will be to help make those connections for Northern students. She will coordinate retention initiatives at NSU, working hand-in-hand with University College staff and career counseling professionals.
A native of Mauston, Wis., Moon and her husband, Josh, Northern’s athletic director, have two sons: Brady, 4, and Kellen, 1. Moon got her bachelor’s degree in elementary education/early childhood at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She got her master’s degree in educational technology and doctorate degree in educational leadership at Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
Moon has held teaching positions from early childhood up through the collegiate level. At Northern, her duties will include advising students and teaching a first-year experience class. Moon also served as the assistant director of admissions at CMU – a role that dealt with recruitment and retention.
“I very much love working with students,” she said. “I have a real passion for helping students succeed.”
At NSU, Moon is in charge of learning the new Starfish program and training faculty and staff. This program, which the South Dakota Board of Regents is implementing at all South Dakota public universities, will replace NSU’s "early alert" system. Starfish will flag students who are showing cause for concern – low attendance or grades, for example. Faculty and staff can then refer students to Moon for more assistance. She will meet with these students and connect them with the services they need, such as tutoring or counseling.
Moon’s goals include improving Northern’s retention rate, especially from freshman to sophomore year – the period that has been identified as needing the most improvement. She also hopes to improve the referral process and the communication surrounding it. She wants to make sure that faculty and staff members know to whom to refer students. Then, once a student receives the needed services, she wants to make sure that the faculty or staff member who made the report receives an update.
The overall goal, she said, is for students to graduate and succeed.
“It’s more about the big picture,” she said. “We want them to be successful.”
While having a “point person” is important, retention is the responsibility of everyone on campus. Everyone on campus can help, Moon said, by focusing on customer service – being friendly and approachable and making students feel welcome and supported.
“Northern is such a positive, caring environment,” she said. “So we just have to keep that going forward.”