Employee Spotlight—Stacia Greve and Kara Park
|There are a lot of behind the scenes jobs that take place in the athletics department over the course of the calendar year and one of those is athletics academic advising. It’s certainly a role many outside of the department don’t know about. The role these advisors play in making sure student athletes stay NCAA eligible, are involved in the community and stay on track to graduate is highly important to collegiate athletics.
Stacia Greve and Kara Park serve as athletics academic advisors at the University of Northern Iowa, but their duties go far beyond helping students with the basics. Just a few of the duties Greve and Park are in charge of is coordinating community service activities, meeting with recruits regarding the academic aspects of becoming a Panther student athlete, teaching a class on how to be successful in college, discussing NCAA eligibility rules with coaches and student athletes, working with students to find resources on campus to help them succeed, and collecting and studying GPA data in an attempt to find trends and mark improvements.
While that all seems like a lot for two people with over 400 student athletes, Greve and Park take everything in stride and most of the time have a smile on their faces.
Park noted, “It is very rewarding to see students do stuff on their own – when they take the knowledge and resources you have given them and actually apply it, it’s a very good feeling.”
So exactly what knowledge and resources do Greve and Park share with the UNI student athletes? Well, the list is very long. Greve and Park serve as secondary advisors to each student athlete, encouraging them to meet with their major advisor. Between the 15 sports at UNI, each of them has assigned sports to work with. Greve works with football, men’s basketball, and softball while Park works with wrestling, swimming, tennis, volleyball, men’s and women’s track and field and cross country, men’s and women’s golf, soccer, and women’s basketball.
In addition to working with each team, the advisors teach a class to the student athletes. The class is a two credit university sponsored class with sections for special populations. The class teaches personal responsibility, test taking/study skills, major and career decision making, healthy transition into college, campus resources, and NCAA eligibility. The main focus of the class is to give students the information they need to become successful while in college and also become positive, contributing members of society following their time in the Purple and Gold. Greve and Park also spend time working with faculty and departments across campus to refer students to tutors, the Career Center, and other advisors or resources.
Another major aspect of the athletics academic advisors’ job is to coordinate the CHAMPS Life Skills Program (Challenging Athletes Minds for Personal Success), which is an NCAA initiative. Through the CHAMPS program, UNI student athletes are involved in a number of the community service projects throughout the year including Just Read! (a Missouri Valley Conference program that has student athletes visit local elementary schools to emphasize the importance of reading), Character Counts, National Girls and Women in Sports Day (a partnership with the Girl Scouts), Iowa Children’s Charity Telethon, Special Olympics, Boys and Girls Club, Soles for Souls (shoe drive at UNI’s Maucker Union, the WRC, and the UNI-Dome), and various other opportunities that come up during the year.
“All of the community service projects we do really give our student athletes a chance to connect with the community,” Greve said. “It gives the student athlete a chance to build upon their own experience here at UNI and get them involved in activities outside of athletics. It’s a great way to remind the student athletes that they have an amazing opportunity to positively impact so many people.”
Greve and Park’s hard work has not gone unnoticed as the student athlete population at UNI posted a 3.19 grade point average for the fall semester, higher than the general student population. In fact, the last two semesters the student athlete GPA has been higher than the student population.
“We can’t take all the credit for the improvement in student athlete GPA,” Greve noted. “I think the major thing that has changed since we joined the staff is the emphasis on academics. It has been a collaborative effort campus-wide. The athletic department, coaches, and the university as a whole have been putting an emphasis on the value of academic achievement. Our student athletes aren’t just hearing about academics from us, it’s coming from coaches, faculty and advisors as well. There is a constant message to work hard at academics and our student athletes have listened and taken action. I’m sure they will continue to work hard and improve.”