OTTUMWA — Ottumwa School District students aren’t the only ones gearing up for the first week of school.
This week Indian Hills Community College Students, new and current, are transitioning to the first week of college. College students are able to go to student services asking for financial help, academic services and even moving in. New students will move into the residence halls on Saturday and current ones will move in the next day.
Student Life Director Jamarco Clark knows the anxiousness college students can face, especially the first year students. For this reason he wanted a new student move in day for them to ease up.
“[Moving in] gives them the opportunity to be here on their own and come out of their shell,” Clark said, “the big part in transitioning is myself and my staff create an environment that’s inviting them to come out of their shells and also nurtures that nervousness and promotes opportunity to step out of that shell.”
Anxiousness doesn’t have to set in for long. Clark said there are clubs and activities for all students to participate in, whether their interests lie in sports, science, math, or the arts. He said all students, current and new can overcome anxiousness by joining a club or participating in many activities, from talent shows to movie nights.
“We’re going to work to make sure that the overwhelming is at a minimum,” Clark said. “Trying to reach them through many different mediums and do what we can to appeal to the different types of students.”
These “mediums” include communicating with the students about different school events or resources or find other approaches that work for students. “It takes experiment and planning,” Clark said, “it takes some failure to know that ‘hey that didn’t work for this group we need to try something different.’ The best medium is talking to the student themselves and finding what they want to do.”
Students who deal with mental health issues can also find resources for themselves. This year, Clark said there will be an on campus mental health counselor who will work with students dealing with these issues. It’s free to the students and they are free to come in at anytime.
“We already had students be seen,” Clark said, “It’s just great that we’re going to be able to have that. Mental health is really prevalent on college campuses. We are excited to have someone here full time to help our students and meet the needs they may have.”
Clark also said those who deal with mental health not only have the option of confiding in the new mental health counselor, but also have the option of speaking with others on campus. “There’s a lot of people here to help you out,” Clark said, “whether it be an RA (Resident Assistant) or someone in my office. We got our measures in place to be able to help the students out. Just know that on our campus there are people ready to help. If you’re feeling anxious or depressed — talk to someone.”
The mental health counselor isn’t the only new addition to campus. Clark said students and staff can look forward to comedians coming in during lunchtime and food pantries, however, these food pantries are only exclusive to Indian Hills students, one being on the Centerville Campus and the other in Ottumwa.
Although this is Clark’s second year as a student life director, he wants to see the college grow in activities. Starting the food pantries is one step, and he hopes to see the Centerville campus food pantry open on the second week of September and Ottumwa’s open by the beginning of October.
Clark said he will work diligently to see growth, especially now that he has more experience. “I have a better grasp on what I’m doing, “ he said. “I’m understanding our student population. We’re going to be locked in and loaded with our mental health counselor, violence and prevention and residence life department and student activities.”
Ultimately Clark said Indian Hills wants to be a college that prepares students for undergraduate college or the work field.
“We’re doing our part to put good individuals out into society,” he said. We want to make sure we are instilling those values and giving them those learning moments, like telling them they will work with different people and to talk about the appreciation of differences. Have those moments to have real life teachable moments. From student life to student development we do doing everything we can to make them good stewards of society.”