New at CSE: Academic coaches aid students in exploring academic and future career options


Brynn Lundy/The Lion's Roar

ACE director Brad Bergeron conducts an ACE session via Zoom in his office at the Center for Student Excellence. Students who are no longer freshmen and do not have a freshman advisor can utilize the CSE’s Academic & Career Exploration program for help in deciding on a major as well as exploring future career options.

The Center for Student Excellence is offering “Academic & Career Exploration,” a new service designed to assist and support students who no longer have freshman advisors through their academic journeys and their career searches.

Referred to as ACE, the services began in Spring 2020, but the pandemic, in addition to the youth of the program, necessitated developments which are being formally introduced this semester. The program provides resources for third-semester freshman through senior year students who seek guidance in choosing a major and assessing strengths and weaknesses.

Brad Bergeron, assistant director for ACE, explained that the CSE created this program for students to reflect on goals and to work through obstacles they are facing.

“Before ACE, if a student no longer wanted to pursue their current major but didn’t know what they wanted to declare, we really didn’t have a place for them to work on this,” claimed Bergeron. “Now, they can come to ACE and meet with an ‘Academic & Career Exploration’ Coach, and we can help them sort through information and figure out what major or career would be best suited for them.”

Bergeron discussed how he and the other ACE coaches approach students who seek their help at CSE.

“ACE Coaches help students who want help reaching their academic goals or exploring careers and majors that best fit their strengths,” explained Bergeron. “Coaches teach students how to gain self-knowledge, sort through pertinent information and take actions that produce satisfying lives.”

Bergeron described the steps students can take to initiate academic assistance from an ACE coach. Prior to the pandemic, students would be able to meet in-person with a coach, but for now, meetings are virtual.

“Students can go to to read about our services and to sign up for an appointment,” said Bergeron. “Coaches reach out to students who fill out an intake form, found on our ACE homepage, and email them a Zoom invite.”

At the homepage, students can also view the descriptions for “Academic Coaching & Career Exploration,” read about each coach on the ACE staff and find other ACE resources, including the online program TypeFocus.

“TypeFocus is a leading developer of online personality types and resources that allow students to take assessments, explore occupations, choose majors that Southeastern offers and find jobs,” stated Bergeron.

Jennifer Whisenhunt is an ACE coach with a focus area in healthcare and human studies. She worked as a freshman advisor for four and a half years before the opportunity arose for her to be on the ACE staff.

Whisenhunt mentioned how key aspects of the Academic Coaching and Career Exploration that ACE provides distinguish it from other student advising sessions on campus. ACE coaches encourage students to meet with them multiple times as a process to identify personal goals and strategies to increase academic success.

“Typically, this involves meeting with students to learn more about what they are wanting to achieve academically and working with them to identify where they can improve to reach those goals,” said Whisenhunt. “The most common themes are time management, study strategies and learning skills. Sometimes these conversations cross over into major and career exploration since these choices are woven into academic performance as well.”

The ACE coach gave a word of advice for students seeking guidance during their collegiate careers.

“There are resources with open doors surrounding students to help them on their journey,” said Whisenhunt. “I would encourage students to be alert, be intentional, be adaptable and reach out when they need the extra guidance.”

Bergeron mentioned a primary objective the CSE had in mind when forming this program for current and future Lions.

“We want students who need extra help and support to have a place to go when they feel stuck or lost,” shared Bergeron. “Since students start in the CSE as freshmen, we tell them to just come back home when they need our help.”