Student Support Specialist

Our Student Support Specialist oversees our campus food pantry and collaborates with University partners in developing and providing comprehensive, cohesive services, information, and programs to all students who would like help managing basic needs. Additionally, this position serves as a liaison in the development of specialized support for students who are parents, formerly incarcerated/justice-impacted students, former foster youth, and/or low-income students. However, our Student Support Specialist can support anyone on campus, even if you don’t identify with these communities.

Through supportive conversations and intentional connections to resources, our Student Support Specialist is here to help you during your time at Columbia. 

Below, you will find a broad overview of each of the terms that help inform our work. Although we strive to be inclusive of everyone's experience, we understand the complexities of each of your identities and personal experiences may not be reflected in a few words.

Studies have found that 3-4% of former foster youth obtain a four-year college degree. Students who've experienced life in a foster home or group home may need support or resources to acclimate and succeed in college.  ​

We strive to be a single point-of-contact that helps students with resources, emergency support and navigating common obstacles, such as issues with financial aid. The plan is to strengthen our campus network with representatives from financial aid, advising, counseling, administrators and others.

A “justice-impacted student” is someone who is either at risk of being incarcerated or has been formerly incarcerated, has a family member impacted by in the justice system, or has, in some other way, been affected by law enforcement that has altered their life. 

Justice-impacted students can face financial issues, housing and/or food insecurity, and/or have difficulty finding employment. Emotional support is often needed after having been impacted by the justice system as well. 

We can assist justice-impacted students by providing tools, skills, and other strategies that are foundational to academic success and stability for the future. 

One-fifth of all college students are parents, according to estimates by the National Center for Education Statistics. CSSI is a central, multi-purpose University resource, where students from all schools and campuses can seek informed advice, engage in informal study groups, celebrate achievements, learn about resources, and/or recover from setbacks.