June 21, 2017
Tutor working with student.

Things have come full circle for Patrick Masterson at the University of Detroit Mercy Student Success Center. The MBA student who first went to the center as a freshman to get help with math now works there, providing tutoring in English, history and economics.

“When I was a freshman, I needed tutoring in math and there was a senior on the lacrosse team who would help me quite a bit,” said Masterson, who will be a redshirt senior for the lacrosse team next season. “I think it’s a natural development that I’m now a senior and helping younger teammates or younger students in general. You see that natural progression where we have young students now, who might help others down the line. It’s kind of cool to see that happen organically, to see people go from getting tutored to being a tutor. It doesn’t always happen, but it’s cool when it does.”

The Student Success Center is located in the library and provides free tutoring for every subject. The Center also offers a testing center, study groups, professional mentoring, academic advising, developmental coursework and disability support services.

“Everyone here has the mission initiative and we feed off of each other,” Student Success Center Director Susan Trudeau said. “We just try to make it a positive environment. I feel like, hands down, I have the best team on campus. I’ve got some wonderful staff here and a wonderful student staff. I just feel like we’re more like a family than anything else. I think that’s really the key to our success with our students. They feel welcome and comfortable here when they come in. Getting them in the door can sometimes be the challenge, but once they get here, they want to stay.”

The Student Success Center is full of energy and positivity, and best of all, it’s proven to help students. On average, students who attend at least 10 tutoring sessions in a subject increase their grade by a full letter in that course.

“My grades definitely improved from coming up here,” said Haylene Velasquez, a senior Business major. “The tutors were always available when I needed help, whether it was math, writing or whatever it was. There was always someone willing to help. Even if they weren’t equipped to do it, they would direct you who to go to. My grades really started to improve after I did those one-on-one meetings.”

Incoming college students can sometimes be hesitant about signing up for tutoring or study groups. The Student Success Center tries to combat that by reaching out to students as early as orientation and working with faculty to let students know tutoring can help them meet their goals.

“I try to explain to students how tutoring in college is viewed and I encourage all students to ask for help,” Student Success Center Assistant Director Felicia Mitrovich said. “I tell students it’s smart to ask for help and many ‘smart' students do because everyone struggles at some point in college."

Velasquez admitted coming into college she wasn’t used to seeking help with school work, but the Student Success Center helped show her she didn’t have to do everything by herself.

“I’m a first generation college student, so I was used to always doing things on my own,” Velasquez. “I’m the oldest, too, so my family depends on me for different types of things. Coming into college, I felt I’ve done it all myself up to this point, I can do it by myself again. In reality, that’s not the case in college. Sometimes you need help and it’s ok to ask for help. That’s something I started learning by coming to the Student Success Center. It’s OK to ask for help. If you’re struggling with something and you’re used to doing everything on your own, it doesn’t mean you’re failing just because you’re asking for help.”

Student athletes must spend five hours a week at the Student Success Center or the Calihan Academic Center during their freshman year. The requirement gets student athletes in the door and it often leads to them spending more than their required hours at the center.

“I think having it as a requirement is really important because it’s a transition,” Masterson said. “I knew college was going to be a lot of work. Some people can be surprised by it. Five hours is just one hour a day, so it’s not too bad. The library is in the middle of campus, so it’s super convenient. There are definitely times where you just want to go back to your room and watch TV or something, but coming here, you will spend your time a bit more wisely.”

Time management can be a problem for new students, which is why the Student Success Center helps students not only focus while they are there, but also develop study habits for when they are on their own.

“As a college student, time management is always hard, so that’s something they definitely helped me with,” Velasquez said. “Just having the proper time management really helped me improve my academics. It definitely takes a little stress off. School is always going to be stressful, but they help you manage your time that so it’s been great.”

For more information about the Student Success Center, visit their website, call 313-993-1143 or visit to make an appointment with a tutor.

— By Dave Pemberton. Follow Detroit Mercy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.