Campus Centers Serve Students in Pandemic

By Gabriel Millen
April 30, 2021

It can be hard to tell what’s going on all around GCC, especially in our pandemic-driven digital age. As a student from Warsaw, I didn’t see myself needing to go to Batavia’s campus, but I’ve made the trek to a campus center relatively frequently.

It was there that I was prompted to uncover what GCC’s experience is like back in my hometown, and Joanna Santos, director of Operations for Warsaw & Arcade’s campus centers, was my liaison for this.

A doctoral student at University of Rochester, Santos is studying Higher Education Administration. Since first taking the job in 2018, her involvement with the college soon modified the heart of her goals. “Before GCC, I worked at SUNY Geneseo, but when I came to GCC I learned a lot about community colleges and how they function, and what they need and what students need,” she said. “So, I really shifted my focus for my doctorate, and I think that it really gave me a wider lens on what education is, and how I can better serve it.”

Santos also emphasized the challenge of managing two different local educational spheres. She said, “Obviously all the events and things like that are smaller scale, but even each campus center has its own identity, and so certain campus centers like certain things.” Some of these events included a visiting petting zoo in Arcade and a farm-to-table dinner in Warsaw.

Unfortunately, we’re not able to hold events quite the same in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly having to network things has been a real challenge, especially in communities that benefit from the locality that larger places don’t have. Santos explained the vast differences in students: some adjusting to the online aspect, some only able to enroll because of it, and some that prefer an in-person experience. It’s been challenging, but always important, for her to find a balance that aids in the success of as many students as possible.

While there has been a decent amount of adversity, circumstantial or otherwise, Santos said she has been committed to ensuring that each campus center is a beacon for students in the area to look to, something that props up their interests and goals in the face of any possible thing.

“I think it’s really important to remember who you’re serving, and that’s the students,” Santos said, “and making sure that the students are getting the best education that they can out of your institution. So GCC’s really helped me put that into focus.”