The new One-Stop Centre at the University College of the Cayman Islands is not only designed to provide direction for students but is also an illustration of the direction in which UCCI is moving.
The centre will be officially dedicated with a ceremony on Jan. 27. UCCI President and CEO Stacy McAfee, said the event marks a new chapter in the student experience at Cayman’s largest institution for higher education. It will be a hub providing all things to all students when it comes to anything that takes place outside of the classroom.
“The idea is to make it easy for students to access the resources and services they need,” McAfee said. “When you come through the entrance at UCCI, the first thing you see in front of you is the One-Stop Centre. That is the beacon you go toward to get your questions answered.”
Whether applying for admission to the university, registering for classes, receiving IT assistance, getting scholarship information or just obtaining a student ID, students will find the help they need at the One-Stop Centre. Other services offered at the centre will include financial aid, academic counseling and internship advisement. Additional components will be added as the year goes along.
“This is phase 1,” McAfee said. “By fall of 2021, the One-Stop Centre will house Student Life, which includes advising, career resources, health and wellness and scholarships as well as student government.”
There are also plans to have employers hold seminars in the centre, talking to students about what skills they will need once they enter the working world.
Donnette Goddard is the director of Student Life and helps advise students on what classes they need and how to register for them. While not all of Student Life services are up and running yet, her office is in the heart of the One-Stop Centre. The new entity, she said, changes the college experience at UCCI.
“It’s the beginning of a new way forward this semester,” Goddard said. “It’s put me in a position to serve students better.”
In the past, she said, services were parsed out to various offices across the campus. It made it hard sometimes for students to navigate the system.
“If I sent a student to admissions, I didn’t really know if the student actually got there,” she said. “Now, it’s just next door and I can walk them over. The students can’t get lost. They feel much more supported.”
That goes for advising as well.
“Before, we had no structure,” she said. “Many times the students didn’t talk to anyone about their academic plan.”
Now, she said, the process is more formalized and students know where to go to find that assistance. That change is mainly due to McAfee’s influence.
“I saw the need for proper advising and collaboration, but President McAfee is the one that had the true vision,” Goddard said.
“The One-Stop Centre is a manifestation of the concept and vision of UCCI to become a student-centered institution of higher learning,” McAfee said. By that, she means that it serves as a central focus for providing students with the support that they need in all aspects of the university experience.
“You can take care of everything at once,” she added. “If you need an ID, or help from IT with accessing your account, everything is there.”
Admissions Manager Camille Angel said having multiple service departments conveniently housed within reach of students, faculty, staff and UCCI’s community partners will improve student experiences and information sharing. She said it will also strengthen the collaborative culture at UCCI.
Some students appreciate the change. Nathaniel Forbes said the new centre is an improvement over the old system.
“It’s better because any questions you have you can get an answer immediately,” he said.
It is also nice, he added, to be able to know he can go in and talk to someone face-to-face, rather than trying to respond to a barrage of emails about administrative issues.
Finoi Linwood said she felt rather lost when she came to the campus for the first time several semesters ago. She thinks the One-Stop Centre will be especially helpful to new students, but she has benefited as well. So far, she has used the centre for assistance with scholarship application, academic advising and counseling.
Goddard said experiences like that help show how the new space is helping to fulfill the mission of the university.
“I want students to understand that this is where they can come consistently throughout the semester to get their questions answered,” she said.