College Success Advisors Help Students Remove Barriers, Achieve Goals

Kari Kaufman advises a student in the Student Services computer lab posted on Thursday, April 22, 2021 in  College News

Enrolling at Hawkeye Community College was a bit of a reset for Abigale Freiburger. A 2016 graduate of Dubuque Senior High School, she started taking classes at a community college near her hometown with the intention of becoming a teacher. After a year, that career path – and that college – didn’t feel right.

“I was all over the place for a bit because I didn’t know what I wanted,” Freiburger said. She took a year off to think about her direction, and when her partner moved to Waterloo, she moved with him and started taking classes at Hawkeye.

“Immediately, I knew I loved Hawkeye,” she said. “If I could go there and get a four-year degree, I would.”

Freiburger was overwhelmed by the support she felt on campus. College was intimidating, and navigating everything from financial aid to schedules could feel overwhelming. At her previous college, she’d felt more or less on her own. That changed at Hawkeye.

“When I came to Hawkeye and I said, ‘I don’t have help, I don’t know what I’m doing,’ there was always someone there to help, to check in, to make sure I had the information I needed,” she said. “I loved that. I never felt like a nuisance asking.”

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One of those people is Kari Kaufman, part of a team of academic/college success advisors who help students with everything from mapping out their academic plan to connecting with campus resources.

“A lot of advising has to do with looking at the big picture,” Kaufman said. Most conversations begin with a student’s academic plans, then move to their life outside the classroom. The better she understands a student’s individual needs, Kaufman says, the better she can help remove barriers to their success.

“Sometimes students are working full-time jobs or caring for family,” she said. “Sometimes they’re just nervous about starting their first semester or returning to college after a break. I want to be sure to take all of these issues into account as we plan the student’s schedule so they have a schedule that’s reasonable for them to complete successfully and the courses are offered in a format and time of day that works best for them.”

Kaufman’s guidance also helped Izacc Quisling find focus. As a first-generation college student, the Buffalo Center native wasn’t sure what direction he wanted to take, or even where to start.

“I was really, really lost – I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Quisling said. “My sister was the only one who had gone to college, and my parents had never really done anything like that before.”

Excited to be away from his small hometown for the first time, Quisling didn’t spend enough time focused on his education at first. When he realized he was struggling, he connected with Kaufman, who bolstered his confidence and helped him create a plan for academic success moving forward.

“It was really nice, because you could tell she cared,” he recalls. “I feel like whether they’re in the financial aid office or food court or student center, people really do care about you at Hawkeye, and they cheer you on. They want you to do well.”

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Working with Kaufman, he mapped out a plan to complete his degree at Hawkeye and transfer to Iowa State University. Kaufman helped him identify scholarship opportunities and the best classes for transfer.

Quisling describes it as the spark that ignited a fire in him to fuel his last year at Hawkeye.

“The last year was one of the best years of my life,” he said. “I’m so grateful for Kari and everyone who helped me along the way.”

Quisling transferred to ISU in 2019 to major in public relations and minor in psychology. Now in his final semester, he’s editor-in-chief of TREND, a student-run magazine focused on fashion, beauty, body, and lifestyle for women and men in the ISU community. He plans to move to Chicago this summer to pursue work in public relations and digital marketing.

For Freiburger, who graduates from Hawkeye this spring, she’s still planning her next destination. She recently relocated to Coralville and has her eye on transferring to the University of Iowa. Her classes at Hawkeye helped her realize she doesn’t want to be a K-12 teacher, but she does want to have a role in education.

“I want to be a professor,” she said. After she gets a bachelor’s degree, she’s considering graduate school or law school, or both. She is passionate about learning – something she can trace back to her first semester at Hawkeye.

“Every class for me, I have utilized something,” she said. “If I had any advice to anybody it’s slow down, be in the moment, and just embrace what you’re learning.”

To learn more about how Hawkeye Community College prepares students for success, call 319-296-4000. 


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