Opening Our Doors: How RVCC Is Removing Every Barrier to Student Success

Aimee Jahn, Interim Vice President of Student Affairs for River Valley Community College

Aimee Jahn sat in front of me with her planner that reads, “make today ridiculously amazing,” and admitted to her reluctance when she was asked to talk about River Valley Community College and her role – or rather, roles – there. But then I asked her what she thinks is great about the school, and filled three pages with her answers. Clearly, “ridiculously amazing” describes not just her days, but also her feelings about her work, her students, and her school.

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8 years ago, Ms. Jahn came on board at RVCC as an adjunct professor of psychology. Gradually, she was drawn deeper into the family, taking a part-time position as a student advisor, then a full-time professor. She now holds three titles, including Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs. Her immediate goal has been to help make the school’s transition to their new President as smooth as possible, but her long-term objective is to make the RVCC experience successful for every student. 

She understands the roadblocks that today’s students face as they try to figure out whether to go to school, where to go, and how to pay for it. Many who come to her don’t necessarily have supportive families, or they don’t have families that know how to help them navigate higher education. The Student Success Center is a phenomenal resource where students can find answers to problems, but, Aimee reports, actually all of the faculty and staff are available to support and advise their students in the face of any barriers they encounter along the way. 

What are some of those obstacles? 

  1. Money… duh
  2. Time
  3. “What if my credits don’t transfer?”
  4. “I haven’t taken a math class in 25 years and am pretty sure I can’t pass.”
  5. “I can’t learn sitting in a lecture hall.”

Aimee can either help you get past them herself, or put you across the desk from someone who can. For example:

  1. Community college is the most affordable option for anyone looking to go on to higher education. And an employee’s income potential increases significantly when they go from a high school diploma to an associate’s degree. There are grants, scholarships, and loans available for everyone, and the folks at RVCC can help you find them.
  2. RVCC is constantly adapting their courses and programs to the working adult. They have a criminal justice track that is following a “hybrid format,” requiring students to be physically present only 6 Thursday evenings per semester. The rest of those classes are offered either on-line or in present on other days. As technology advances, opportunities increase for students to do more of their work digitally. Finally, as you can see from the scheduling matrix in the background of Aimee’s picture, the faculty works very hard to align the timing of classes so that students can minimize the number of days per week they need to be present on campus, blocking program classes together and offering them at non-traditional times.
  3. They will. Especially if you’re planning to go on to a NH state school. But even if you’re not, they will. 
  4. Math tutors! They’re there! They’re eager to help! And they’re free to RVCC students! FREE!!
  5. River Valley Community College is a hands-on kind of place. When I walked down the hall to meet with Aimee, I passed a guy who looked like this: 

and a lady who looked like this:

and a few massage chairs that made me wish that I was there to be a guinea pig for the massage therapy students:

In fact, Aimee struggled to think of a single program area that doesn’t offer hands-on instruction, labs, internships, practicums, or a community service component. 

Maybe you have a different reason for not enrolling in a course at River Valley Community College. I suggest you call Aimee, because I can bet she has an even better reason that you should totally do it. She’s a single mom of twin girls, working full-time to do the jobs of three people. If anyone can help you, it’s her.

I also understand that she was the real master burger-flipper at the staff bbq, but that is a blog for another day…

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