As a re-enrollment representative for Jacksonville University, longtime Bisk education employee Renee Rodgers spends her days on the telephone.
"My job is to follow up on students who are currently in class, not only to get them re-enrolled but to make sure everything is going well," said Rodgers, who works with students in JU’s RN to MSN and Master’s in Health Informatics programs.
"How are they doing on their assignments? Are they getting feedback from their instructors? Do they need any help with financial aid? I try to help in any way I can," Rodgers said. "I tell them I'm there to help them with everything but their homework."
"I wind up leaving a lot of messages," Rodgers said. Many of her callers respond with "'Hey, Renee, everything’s fine, talk to you next week,'" she added.
She offers needed encouragement to some students, particularly those continuing their education after a long time away from class.
"For someone who's been out of school for 18, 20 years, they're not used to the technology, not used to going to school," Rodgers said.
"That first week for new students," Rodgers said, "I remind them, especially if they've been out for a long time, 'When you went to nursing school, that's all you did. It is more difficult now. You have responsibilities now. Nursing school was just you and the books. It does get easier. I promise you it gets easier.'
"I say that a lot! Once they get over their second class or so they're pretty much in the routine," Rodgers said.
Sometimes Rodgers' role goes beyond her normal duties. Some of the students with whom she works reach out to her for support, encouragement or a sympathetic ear.
"One of my teammates refers to us as life coaches," Rodgers said. "We listen. We help them achieve their dreams. I can't think of a better job than helping somebody achieve their dream. You know, when they’re standing at the graduation ceremony and they're crying because they did it and you helped them get there. Or the emails that came in afterward saying, "Thank you so much. I couldn't have done this without you.'
"Those kind of things, those are the amazing stories," Rodgers said.
With almost two decades at Bisk, Rodgers no doubt is one of the best at her job. However, she's not content to rest on her laurels.
"I try and learn more about the program, the courses, and what nurses do every day," Rodgers said. "I'm pushing myself to learn what the informatics people do every day.
"I don't understand what they're telling me half the time," Rodgers admits. "But I remind myself that when I started with JU, I didn't understand what the nurses were talking about.
"I've probably learned a lot about myself," Rodgers said. "I'm always challenging myself to do better, to learn more and be better at my job."