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First-Year Experience Faculty and Staff:

Ryan Barone
Director, Student Leadership & Development
(970) 339-6657

My name is Ryan, and I joined the Aims community in the Spring of 2014. I have studied or worked at seven different higher education institutions in three different states, and I have been uniquely inspired and motivated by the students, staff, and faculty at Aims. Navigating higher education can be complex, and I am thrilled to be one of the many people here committed to helping students progress and succeed to meet their educational goals.

Success Tip: Identify the skills you already have which assisted you in getting to this point in life, and use those characteristics to help you meet your goals. You are competent and valuable, and you can be successful here at Aims and beyond.

Dawn Boll
AAA/FYE Peer Coach

I am going for an Accounting Degree at Aims and I am in my fourth semester. I am a non-traditional student and I am thoroughly enjoying learning new things. I enjoy watching the antics of my dog and cat, even while doing homework. Much of my success here at Aims is due to my involvement with organizations like Catalyst, W.I.T.T., and attending as many iFocus workshops as possible. I also believe my success here has a lot to do with the volunteering I get involved in.

Nicole De La Fuente
AAA/FYE Peer Coach

My name is Nicole De La Fuente, and I am in my fourth semester at Aims. I joined the First-Year Experience team in the fall of 2015 as a Peer Coach. I am currently working to obtain my Associate of Arts in Sociology. I plan on transferring to UNC in the Bachelor of Human Services program.

I work in and outside of the classroom with first year students, and their professors. In the first year of college, many students face challenges. By participating in the AAA classroom, I hope to help integrate students into the college experience, as well as make their first year as enjoyable as possible. The purpose of a peer coach is to create a sustaining learning environment that supports a successful academic and social transition of AAA into the Aims community.

Success Tip: Get involved on campus! Not only will this help build lasting connections with other students, but can also provide some accountability for involvement.

Rachel Klemesrud-Daly
Work Study - FYE Liaison

My name is Rachel, and I am a 2nd year student here at Aims Community College working towards a Liberal Arts – Business Transfer Degree. I love connecting with other students and being involved all around campus.

Success Tip: Break large projects down into little sections and set due dates for each section to avoid becoming overwhelmed or procrastinating.

Melanie Rocha
Coordinator, First-Year Experience
(970) 339-6531

Welcome, Aims students! My name is Melanie, and I joined the FYE team in Fall 2015. I am a first generation, post-traditional college graduate. I believe that a community college is a great place for students to begin their journeys through higher education. Students can experience diversity much differently at a community college compared to the often-homogenous environments found at traditional four-year schools. I also believe that the supportive environment provided by community colleges, and Aims in particular, can be beneficial to students from post-traditional, ethnically, culturally, and socially diverse backgrounds, such as, LGBT, ESL, low SES, refugees, first generation, and abilities.

Furthermore, I think that the academic and personal support offered at community colleges has a positive and lasting effect on the educational experiences of the students who attend them. I have chosen education as a profession because I know first-hand that students that come from diverse backgrounds appreciate mentors who they can relate to. While working at Aims I have had the opportunity to meet and work with people from various walks of life that has helped me to understand that each student has a unique situation, style of learning, and pathway to success.

I truly believe in student success, and because of individuals that believed in me, I have had the opportunity to attend, succeed, and navigate the college system. I hope to be that individual for you!

Student Success Tips:
  • Perseverance is the first step toward success
  • Never take no for an answer (with regards to your educational goals)

Nicole Suttle
AAA/FYE Peer Coach

My name is Nicole Suttle, I started attending Aims in fall 2014. It took getting through my first semester to feel like I was truly an authentic college student, not an impostor. Since then I have changed majors from Construction Management to Computer Aided Drafting (CAD), which I love. I will graduate Aims in Spring 2016 with my Associate of Applied Science in CAD. Currently I work as a AAA Peer Coach and have found a lot of satisfaction in this role. I love the community of Aims. If you see me around campus, please say hi, it will make my day!

Success Tip: Do not be afraid to say, “I don’t get it.” Then ask for help!

Ty’ Ray Thompson
Coordinator, Center for the First-Year Experience
(970) 339-6595

If you think you can, you will. If you think you can’t, you won’t. Either way you’re right (The little Engine That Could, 2011). My name is Ty’ Ray Thompson, and I joined Aims Community College in spring 2015, and so far, it has been awesome! So much of who I am as a professional has been shaped by my Christian faith and by many individuals (family and friends) who have taken the time to offer their wisdom, guidance, and encouragement.

This is what I look forward to being for Aims students, a coach and a #1 fan.

Student Success Tip: 1) Take the time to do some goal planning, 2) tell someone you trust and respect about your goals, 3) post them in a place where they are visible and look at them daily, and 4) think positive and tell yourself *you can*!

Rachel Veretto
Assistant Director, Center for the First-Year Experience
(970) 339-6641

My name is Rachel and I am thrilled that you’ve made Aims your college of choice! I joined the Aims community in 2005 and began teaching AAA courses in 2008. I love working in the Center for the First-Year experience because I get to impact students’ lives from the moment they walk onto campus until they walk across the stage at graduation.

It is my personal goal to get to know as many of you as I can through the various activities and events the Center hosts and the classes I teach. I want the Center to become your go-to safe space when you need help - we want to connect you to the people and resources on campus that will help you succeed! Stop in and visit us and let’s make it a great first year!

I love teaching AAA because it gives me the unique opportunity to become a part of the students’ stories and they a part of mine. Students grow a tremendous amount over the course of 15 weeks and to be involved in that transformation is truly a gift.

Success Tip: after the first few classes, take all of your syllabi and transfer assignment due dates, tests, quizzes, papers, readings, etc… into your planner. This will allow you to prioritize each day, week, and month so you aren’t scrambling to complete your work the night before.