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Let’s Talk Success with Jessup’s Director of Success Coaching, Denise Wolf, Ed.D.

Building upon our mission to educate transformational leaders, Jessup now has a team of Success Coaches who come alongside students, guiding them as they pursue their educational and career goals. Denise Wolf, Ed.D. is Jessup’s Director of Success Coaching. She leads a team of eight Success Coaches, providing the support and guidance they need to help students navigate the nuances of the university and successfully reach graduation and beyond. I had the opportunity to talk with Denise about the importance of success coaches and her path to Jessup. It’s a pleasure to welcome Denise to our Q&A discussion today.

What is Success Coaching?

Success Coaching is a model designed to help the whole student from start to finish. Success Coaches guide, support, teach and mentor students through their course registration and degree planning process. Additionally, they build rapport and relationships with students, helping them feel comfortable and gain a greater sense of community. Success Coaches weave spiritual formation into their practice and often pray with students. Finally, coaches partner with Career and Life Planning to ensure students are ready to smoothly transition from college to career. Through a relationship with their Success Coach, we hope students gain a sense of empowerment and ownership over their degree pursuit journey.

Why did you decide to become a success coach?

I am the director and lead a team of eight Success Coaches. I began my career in higher education as an academic advisor and I quickly learned how to provide a more meaningful experience for my students through the use of counseling skills. As a first-generation college student, I had to navigate college blindly. I had to fight much harder than some of my peers to find answers, but it was worth it in the end. My own collegiate experience fueled my passion and desire to help students achieve their educational dreams. Today I realize that the work I get to do every day is not work at all, but my God-given purpose in this world.

What was your journey to Jessup like?

God led me to Jessup. I started working at Jessup in October 2020. It was an answered prayer that I began during my doctoral program in 2017. After I finished my doctorate in 2019, I was anxious about my next career move. As I became closer to God, I felt more out of place and uncomfortable at the secular university I had worked at prior. I learned to wait on God. I shed many tears praying to God about his purpose for me. In October 2020, He revealed this opportunity at Jessup to me, and it is clear I am in His will for me.

What does a day in the life of a Jessup success coach look like?

Being the Director, my role is much different than a success coach but I can speak to what a theoretical “day-in-the-life” of a success coach looks like. Most of a coach’s time is spent meeting (in-person and virtually) with students. Student/Coach engagement has many purposes and modes of delivery, but it is at the core of what we do. Coaches also interact with faculty and other departments on campus to advocate for their students. Success Coaches have caseloads of students to manage and that requires a lot of problem-solving, patience, and attention to detail. 

What are the benefits of a Jessup student meeting with a success coach?

A success coach helps a student navigate the nuances of the university and reach graduation successfully. Students are not just a number. Students can work with their Success Coach to build a strong relationship that will sustain enrollment and increase persistence. Being without a Success Coach is like trying to go on a road trip without Google Maps. You will likely become lost.

What advice do you give students who may want to pursue coaching as a career?

I would advise students to work as Resident Life Advisors or Orientation Leaders at the undergraduate level so they can gain experience working with students from a peer-to-peer perspective. I would also recommend a master’s degree in higher education, student affairs, educational counseling, etc. to learn key skills and be more competitive in pursuing this line of work. Additionally, I would recommend that students conduct informational interviews with one of our Success Coaches to learn more about the profession.

What do you like to do in your free time?

I enjoy working with those recovering from alcoholism and addiction. In fact, my husband and I lead a Christian recovery ministry called Saved and Sober. I recently took up singing on the worship team at my church. I absolutely love it and feel God has called me to play a role in worship. I am also a mom of four, so much of my time revolves around them.

For more information about Jessup’s Success Coaching, please contact Dr. Wolf at dwolf@jessup.edu.

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