Center for Academic Success celebrates 10-year anniversary

Photo by Greg Gancarz

Photo by Greg Gancarz

Greg Gancarz

Staff Writer

The Center for Academic Success, located in room D120, celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, having officially opened in the fall of 2006.

CAS offers a wide variety of tutoring and instruction. It gives students access to both student and faculty tutors that can help with subjects such as writing composition, chemistry, mathematics, and more. Students can also make use of private study rooms and numerous computers with Internet access.

CAS is free for all Parkland students, as long as they are currently enrolled in classes. A login at the main entrance is required to gain access.

Many of the faculty tutors have been helping students at CAS since its founding, and some even before it was located in room D120.

Omar Adawi, one of the CAS heads, has been tutoring at Parkland since 1993, when the center was little more than a peer tutoring organization in a small room in the C-wing.

It took two location changes before the CAS, then known as the “Cooperative Learning Center,” finally wound up in D120 in 2002. Four years later Adawi and other staff formed a task force that added additional tutoring departments and officially founded CAS.

“[It’s] a common mistake for students to wait too long before they seek help,” Adawi says, recommending that students come down as soon as possible.

According to Adawi, CAS is an excellent place for students to get help maintaining good grades and not just a place to find help when struggling. He says it is an all-around “one-stop shop” for students’ learning needs.

According to Sue Jones, another CAS veteran and the current head of the math lab, student success stories are one of the big things she takes away from her work in the center.

“Students really should come on in. We’ll adapt to what they need. It’s painless,” she said.

“The need for this kind of place is so massive, I’m not at all surprised it’s grown as big as it has,” she says.

In addition to numerous new computer programs and tools added in recent years, CAS also employs around 20 peer tutors year-round, according to Tracey Hickox, the CAS director.

According to Hickox, the center is an efficient place for students to study or get their homework done because “if they need help, they can get it right away.”

Often times, those offering tutoring or general assistance are student workers like Ashley Bumpus, who has been a CAS employee since the fall semester of 2014. Bumpus says it’s a great place for students to be, whether you’re getting tutored or are the one doing the tutoring.

“I see familiar faces all the time and a lot of students are in the same boat I was, so I can relate to them and help them out,” Bumpus says.

Alan Castellon, who’s been a CAS tutor for over three semesters, says the center is a big help, but the real key to student success is to not procrastinate.

“We help students grasp the lessons from class so we’re sort of like the secondary line of defense. It should be important for students to make it to class and try and get the best understanding they can,” Castellon says.

When even the tutors get stumped, most said they give a shout out to “The King of the Sciences” Adawi, who they say is always there with the right answer.

For those interested in a tutoring position, Bassel Abu Jabal, a new CAS tutor, strongly recommends taking advantage if a position is offered.

“It’s great for résumés and it’s a good review for yourself for material that you wouldn’t normally remember. I’m really excited to start working here,” Jabal states.

Getting a tutoring position is not an easy task, however. Student tutors must maintain a certain level of excellence in any subjects they teach, making GPA very important. Positions are often only offered by recommendations.

For students interested in taking advantage of D120, the Center for Academic Success is open Monday–Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Students can also call CAS at 217-353-2005 for more information.