By Stephanie Wixson

Kristin Smith, 21, is a senior now and is even Facebook friends with her professors, but she almost didn’t make it past her first year.

Although Smith is not alone in feeling homesick and academically overwhelmed as she moved away from her family to college, her situation is unique in that she was forced to grapple with feelings of guilt and grief in addition to traversing these new college experiences. Smith recalls calling her mom after the first week of school and begging to come home because she felt so disconnected and lost.

Smith, however, stuck it out and chose to stay at WMU after she found her “people.” By joining some Registered Student Organizations, Smith was able to forge meaningful connections within the community by volunteering with peers outside of the classroom. Her choice to stay at WMU was similarly reaffirmed as she was able to make friends within her tight-knit Food Marketing major and get to know her professors. According to The Journal of Experimental Education, Smith’s experience exemplifies the idea that student success is directly correlated to respectful, caring faculty-student interactions. As she personally got to know her professors, Smith was able to feel like the faculty at WMU really cared about her personal success.

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