ILEA Member Spotlight: Meet Michelle Rothmeyer, Ed.D, Kishwaukee College

1. What is your current role/title?

I currently serve as the Vice President of Student Services at Kishwaukee College.

2. Where did you earn your degrees and what did you study?

Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL Ed.D, Higher Education, Community College Leadership, 2020

Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL, M.S.Ed, Adult & Higher Education, Student Affairs, 2010

Judson University, Elgin IL, B.A. Liberal Arts-Management & Leadership, 2000

3. How did your college/university support your success in earning your degrees?

Once I decided to return to college to pursue my master's and Doctorate degrees, both institutions I worked for supported my return, both emotionally and financially. Being a non-traditional, first generation student myself, I probably would not have returned to college without the encouragement of my supervisors and colleagues in the field.Once I decided that working in higher education was the career for me, focusing on learning more about higher education just made sense.I wanted to learn how to help students understand the importance of college and the best way to navigate their way through the process no matter what barriers were present.Each degree I completed allowed me the opportunity to take on new positions in higher education and additional opportunities for providing support for students.

4. What excites you about equity work at your institution?

My higher education career began as an Academic Advisor almost two decades ago.There were many times that I would meet with students and observe how they struggled to afford the tuition payment or the purchase of books, navigating the software programs that were needed to register and participate in classes, and make it through the first week of classes let alone complete their semester. It is the experiences I have been involved in since starting at Kishwaukee College in 2015 that make me appreciate the work we are doing to assist students who come to college with different needs. We have enhanced our advising model, added supportive services to assist our students with barriers they encounter while attending college.We added the TRIO Student Support Services and Upward Bound grants, we hired a Student Success Advisor who primarily works with students who are at-risk, and partnered with other offices on campus to provide the students the support services needed to complete their goals while in college.There is so much more ahead for us at Kish, under the Leadership of our President, Dr. Laurie Borowicz and our partnership with Partnership for College Completion.Our college is well on our way to improving equity for our students.We have an Equity Plan, an Equity Statement, and we are working with our college community to implement strategies for changing our culture.

5. In your role, how do you impact equitable outcomes for your students?

As the Vice President of Student Services, each day I lead a team who impacts our students as they navigate college. Several of the new initiatives and changes the College has implemented since 2015 have taken place in Student Services. Most recently, we added a Student Success Advisor position where the primary focus was designed to serve at-risk students by providing proactive case management using a holistic approach that requires multiple touch points throughout the semester. Most of the students in the program come to college testing into developmental English and Math. In my mind, equity guides the work we do to ensure students succeed and to make sure students get the resources they need along the way to be successful. The focus in Student Services is to help our students find that success and complete their intended goals. Our strategies include: 

  • Cultural Competency in the classroom 
  • The hiring of diverse individuals for staff and faculty 
  • Providing Wrap Around Student Services 
  • Providing Developmental Education support for those students who come to Kish at-risk 
  • Retention and persistence leading to completion of our diverse populations and transition into work 

I am fortunate to be part of the Kish team who is building a program focused on equity for our students. Knowing what we have already accomplished and where we plan to go from here is exciting. Changing a culture takes time and the time is now for the Kish community.

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