195 South Central Campus Dr
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112
Amy Bergerson, Director
It seems like it wasn’t that long ago that I packed my boxes and headed off to college. Once the boxes were unpacked, the roommates met, and my brother had driven away, I realized that there was a whole lot more to going to college than getting in and getting there. For some reason, that hadn’t crossed my mind before that moment. And, I learned that first semester that college wasn’t a cakewalk. Figuring out how to study at the college level, trying to imagine who I would be when my college journey was complete, and the pressures of working, making friends, and navigating a new environment all made for a challenging semester. Thanks to the special attention of one faculty member, I began to get my feet under me, and eventually I grew to love it so much that I’ve spent the rest of my 25-year career working at colleges and universities.The University of Utah’s Student Success and Empowerment Initiative is here to help you navigate many of the same challenges I faced many years ago – along with new ones that grow from our use of technology, the increasing size of our campus, and the growing diversity among you and your peers. Our Student Success Advocates are your guides to the college experience. They listen to your story and help you find the best ways to enhance your time on campus. They assist you in knowing what questions to ask now as well as when you plan for your future. They offer you a personalized attention that is rare on large campuses like ours.
All of us here at the Student Success and Empowerment Initiative want you to know that we value what you contribute to our campus. Our community benefits greatly when you find your niche on campus and develop a sense of belonging on our campus. And, in the process of creating your meaningful Utah experience, you benefit as well. We’re here to assist as you navigate the many ways you can leave your mark on the University of Utah, and we can’t wait to see what you imagine….and then do while you’re here!
195 South Central Campus Dr.
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-0511
Juan Rios, Administrative Assistant
When I first moved to Utah I only expected to be here for four years to do my undergrad. I chose to come to Utah because I had previously vacationed here and loved the scenery here. When I first moved here adapting to life was a bit hard. I was use to a very fast paced lifestyle and the beach was only 15 minutes away. Utah was the opposite, landlocked state and a much slower lifestyle. But over time I found new surroundings and adventures in the mountains. That’s probably the one thing I love the most about the U, everywhere you look, you have amazing views. As an undergrad I had no idea what I wanted to major in, I knew I wanted to major in business or law (I wish the Student Success & Empowerment Initiative was around when I was in school). While working on the pre-requisites for the business major I discovered marketing and public relations and fell in love with them. I’m lucky that in my current position I get to dabble in some marketing and P.R. projects.
In my free time I like to travel, go camping, watch movies, go running with my dog, and explore the great outdoors.
Halah Khan, Intern & Lead Student Success Outreach Ambassador
Hi my name is Halah Khan! I was raised in Utah and decided to stay in-state for college because I can’t seem to leave the mountains. I spend most of my free time playing with my goats and chickens on my family farm. I enjoy exploring other cultures, learning new languages, and volunteering to help people in my community. If I had an infinite amount of money I would spend my life traveling all over the world participating in cultural traditions and holidays.
I am currently a third-year student studying a self-created major in Medical Humanities with a focus on genetics. I’ve really enjoyed being able to choose the classes that I think are going to help me in my upcoming future. I have also been heavily involved with the BlockU program and research within UCEER.
This is my second year apart of the Student Success Empowerment Initiative. My first year I served as an outreach ambassador and this year I will continue participating with the initiative as the Intern and Lead Ambassador. I wanted to get involved with the Initiative because during my first year I was fortunate enough to connect with an SSA who helped me navigate the campus and find my place on campus. More than half of my integrative experiences on campus can be attributed from the help of my SSA. My ultimate goal this year is to help students find the right SSA for them who will lead them to success as my SSA has done for me!
Andrew Tsai, Outreach Ambassador
After completing elementary school in Taiwan, I moved to San Diego for middle school and high school. I attended the University of California, Santa Cruz for two years before transferring to Snow College and then the University of Utah. I am currently pursuing a computer science degree. It’s been an experience that I really enjoy even if I struggle a lot. My goals at U, besides getting a degree, are to polish my work ethic and make great friends.
In my free time I enjoy outdoor activities like rock climbing, backpacking, and biking. When the weather isn’t permitting, I like cooking, reading, and gaming. I’m always motivated to try new activities though!
As an Outreach Ambassador I want to connect my peers to resources that they may not know about in order to help them succeed as students at this school and in life. Our Student Success Advocates are incredibly knowledgeable in multiple disciplines and areas of student life. I’m fluent in Mandarin Chinese, too, so please don’t hesitate to ask me questions.
Shirley Zhou, Outreach Ambassador
My name is Shirley Zhou and I’m currently a Junior studying Kinesiology. I was born in Shanghai, China and moved to the U.S. when I was nine. I can speak English, Mandarin Chinese, dialect Shanghainese, and very broken French. As for my career goal, I plan on getting a doctorate degree and work as an Occupational Therapist. For my hobbies, I love aerial fitness, music (flute and piano), ice-skating, and… eating! If you need restaurant recommendations, I’ve got your back!
As an Outreach Ambassador, my goal is to provide resources for you and connect you to one of our amazing Student Success Advocates to find solutions to any of your needs. I’m also here to be your friend and answer any of your questions about life at the University of Utah. On campus, I’m also the ASUU Director of Student Immersion and Outreach as well as a Campus Life Mentor. If you want to get involved on campus or find fun events to attend, I would love to connect with you!
Derek Young, Outreach Ambassador
Hi, my name is Derek Young, and I am a transfer senior studying Biology with a Cell and Molecular emphasis. My career goals possibly include medical school, pharmacy school, or maybe even graduate school in Biology. All I know is that I want to continue my education because I absolutely love to learn. Education has always been an important thing to me, and I believe that it will be life-long pursuit.
I am originally from Price, Utah where I was born and raised. After high school, I attended USU Eastern, a junior college in Price. I then decided that I wanted to continue my education and that the University of Utah was the best place for me. Transferring from a small junior college to such a large campus like the U was a huge transition for me in everything from schoolwork to living in the big city. I was fortunate enough to come into contact with the Student Success Advocates through a transfer social that I attended. After that, I began meeting with an SSA every couple of weeks.
Having someone that I knew I could talk to and ask questions of was such an amazing thing. It is extremely easy to feel lost and overwhelmed when coming to such a large school. But knowing that you have someone to talk to about anything that you need help with, is something that should be utilized and not overlooked. Everyone should try and meet with an SSA so that they can get the most out of their college experience here at the U! I hope to do my best to help students in their transition to the U whether it be incoming students, transfer students or current students.
In my spare time, I absolutely love anything that has to do with sports. I enjoy playing and watching baseball, basketball, and golf. I have also recently begun to immerse myself in the rich variety of outdoor activities Utah has to offer, especially fishing, hiking and camping. I am also very passionate about music and have had a recent revival in playing the piano.
Shae Barber, Outreach Ambassador
Hi everyone, my name is Shae Barber! I’m currently in my fourth year at the U and I’m pursuing a double major: Political Science with an emphasis in Community Involvement and Nonprofit Leadership, and Communications on the Journalism track. Journalism seems like a great way for me to combine all of my interests into one field, and be paid to travel at the same time! In a dream world, I’ll write for National Geographic so that I can learn as many new things about the world as I can.
When I’m not at school I love to hang out with my friends, play guitar, hike, and paint. I am an accomplished maker of pancakes and a pun connoisseur.
When I first started college my Student Success Advocate was a huge part in making my college experience a successful and welcoming one. It was really helpful for me to have a positive person to act as a friend and sounding board. She helped me to discover resources that I could use, explore different programs, and really learn to take full advantage of my college years. I’m excited to help other students find a way to success!
Anthony Phero, Outreach Ambassador
Hello! My name is Anthony Phero, I am currently a Sophomore studying Chemistry with a Biological Chemistry Emphasis. I am originally from Boise, Idaho where I have lived for a majority of my life, and moved to Salt Lake City to attend the U. With my current and future education, I know I want to work somewhere in the field of physiology. Whether that mean going to Medical School or utilizing my bachelor’s degree, only time can tell.
When I’m not focusing on my education, I enjoy lifting weights and many outdoor activities. I also enjoy gaming, and have recently gotten into playing the ukulele. I take every day as a chance to learn or do something new, because these new experiences/skills will stick with you forever.
During my time at the University of Utah, I have gotten the opportunity to meet with my own personal SSA. They connected me to a plethora of resources that has helped me get to where I am today by helping me become more comfortable on campus. Since then, anytime I was struggling, whether it was for education or personal reasons, scheduling an appointment with an SSA was only a click away. If you ever need someone to talk to, don’t hesitate to contact an SSA, I highly recommend it!
195 South Central Campus Dr.
Salt Lake City, Utah 84112-0511
Melanie Lee, Student Success Advocate Coordinator
About me… I am a leadership nerd, BBQ aficionado, and sports fan. I am originally from Kansas City, MO and have spent time in Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Utah. Currently, I am an Educational Leadership & Policy Ph.D. student here at the U and am interested in the experiences of students’ perceptions of access to programs on campuses. Prior to landing in Utah, I lived and worked in New Orleans as an academic adviser and first-year experience instructor. I hold a Master’s degree in College Student Personnel from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in Leadership Studies from Christopher Newport University.
My philosophy for working with students is nothing magical (sorry, no sweet patronus here), but is instead student-centered. Ahem.. that means you. I am here to be a resource for you and it is my job to soak up as much information as humanly possible to be the best resource I can be. Colleges and universities are their own universe with new names for things and new processes for how things are done. My job is to help you navigate this strange place we get to share together.
Once you complete your adventure at the University Of Utah and can confidently say you are a little bit different, and you have grown, as a result of your time here that means as a team, we accomplished what we set out to do and we are all enriched because of that.