Whether you’re right out of high school graduation, or trying to find your way through a degree later in life, no one can escape the confusion that comes with college. From registration, to finding the right classes and exploring your options, college dealings are a confusing process for every student. It is also a process that Melany Gnaizda-Gibson knows by heart and one she helps every student that walks through her door with.
Melany is the Senior Success Specialist at Broward Academic Center. “I do admission, registration, advising and success plans” she explained “we’re here to make sure you get into college easily, that you’re in the right classes and that you’re passing your classes”
Unlike other campuses where admissions, registration and advising are all handled by different departments, Melany is in charge of all of the aforementioned departments. “I might start and finish the whole process with one student” she said adding that “it helps us build a good relationship with them”
This is something Melany feels is key to her work “Students want to ask questions when they have a relationship with the advisors” she says, adding that “When I make a relationship with them they come to me first”
“I always wanted to help people” Melany stated when asked about her work, explaining that she had a keen interest in psychology since her high school days specifically “what prevents them from functioning and how can you help them to be able to function well”. Attending Miami County Day High School, Melany volunteered with children in need and did peer counseling helping other students “we did group sessions where we would talk about our feelings and how to help others” she said when recalling those days. It was thanks to this that she was able to find her career choice as it combined her interest in psychology with her calling to help others as she says ““I knew before I graduated that that’s what I wanted to do”
Melany went on to attend Stetson University earning a Bachelors of Science in Psychology, before moving on to earn a Masters in Mental Health Counseling Nova Southeastern University.
Afterwards, Melany worked as a mental health counselor in Broward County School Board five and a half years working with severely emotionally disabled teens and young adults something she says she really enjoyed, saying that “it was very interesting, I would do crisis intervention, counseling; I would also help students who got kicked out of their home school”
She also explained that this job served as preparation for what she would later do at Broward College, saying that what really helped was “the transition support that I gave the high school students who were graduating and looking either technical programs or colleges” and went on to add that “at a college level basically that’s what I do here”
Although Sunset School closed last year, Melany found herself leaving sooner, getting laid off when the school did a sweep. Two months later she started working at Broward College after being contacted by Fransisco Gonzales, associate Dean. After working for North Campus for a year, a position opened at the then-new academic center as Melany states “I started hearing about the opening of this while I was there”
After a meeting with Gary Swarch Melany was given a permanent position in Coral Springs Academic Center where she has worked for three years. She is also a part of the Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, where she gets to meet the high school representatives from local high schools in Coral Springs and is involved in helping the students in them.
Regarding her style of counseling Melany explained she prefers simple methods “I start off as just being a good listener,ask questions and make sure I understand where the student’s coming from and what they need” to that she added “I’m honest with the students I’m upfront with them, so they trust me “ going on to say that “trust and connection are a big help for the students to be able to be open about asking for help”
When asked about her favorite part about of her job Melany said “I like helping students get to their graduation day, when they get excited about it I get excited about it” and that when students succeed “I have a sense of accomplishment”
Although she loves helping people Melany is no idealist as she explains her feelings on students who don’t get to walk “I’ve learned in my years that there’s only so much you can do if people don’t want to help themselves” she explained “you do your best and that’s it”