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Leveling the Playing Field for Academic Coaching

Tutoring session
The Salice Family Academic Support Scholarship Fund is making it possible for Endicott students to access the Center for Academic Coaching—and their dreams.
By: Danna Lorch

In high school, Emma Ciasullo, ’26 found tremendous meaning in working with children with autism. She imagined a future for herself in the classroom even before coming to Endicott.

She chose the College because of its Educational Studies Program and the ability to minor in autism and applied behavior analysis.

“School has always been a little harder for me,” Ciasullo said. “So, I talked to my advisor during the first semester. Together, we tried to plan the best course for me to stay on track. He recommended that I check out the Center for Academic Coaching.”

Ciasullo signed up right away and has never regretted it.

The center offers personalized one-on-one coaching to Endicott undergraduates. More than 180 students access its resources each year.

Coaching strengthens academic self-awareness, organizational skills and strategies, time management, goal setting, and communication skills.

“This is about setting the foundation for controlling your education,” said Amy Cohn, Director of the Center for Academic Coaching.

Again and again, she’s seen students who come to the center go on to thrive in graduate school or their first job by cross-applying these skills in their next chapter.

Everyone can benefit from these resources—but the center’s services aren’t free of charge.

However, thanks to the remarkable generosity of one family, those students with demonstrated need receive the Salice Family Academic Support Scholarship Fund, funding that makes coaching a reality.

“It’s an enormous gift to students that finances don't have to stop them from applying for academic coaching,” Cohn said.

Since the Salice family began supporting scholarships for academic coaching in 2012, more than 125 students have benefitted from coaching they wouldn’t have otherwise received.

Ciasullo is one of them.

“This would have been added to my tuition bill, and it would have been too much for me to cover along with my loans,” she added. “This scholarship enabled me to keep going with coaching.”

The National Tutoring Association credentials each of the center’s 20 coaches who follow an official framework in their sessions. Each student matches with an academic coach who clicks with their personality and scheduling constraints. In many cases, this process takes place in the summer before a student begins their first year, so they arrive at the Nest with a support system already in place.

Cohn ultimately matched as Ciasullo’s coach. “Anytime I coach a student, we are partners,” Cohn explained. “We put our heads together and find the way forward.”

Amy Cohn

“We meet weekly to review my class assignments, how I can best manage my time, and how to fit all of my commitments into my schedule,” Ciasullo said. As a result, her assignments get completed and handed in on time.

The time management support was especially beneficial beginning last year when she took on a demanding internship working with teens with autism at a high school and had more to juggle. The experience was so positive that Ciasullo stayed on part-time this year, working as a paraprofessional in the classroom to support students in achieving their life skills goals.

“Amy has taught me to schedule everything in advance and to hold myself accountable on deadlines,” she said.

Another Salice Family Academic Support Scholarship Fund recipient is Jonathan “JT” Taylor ’23, who is now completing his master’s degree in homeland security studies.

A student-athlete on the men’s rugby team, Taylor sought out the center as an incoming student to learn how to manage his academic and athletic commitments in a new environment. It was a touchdown.

“I was blessed to have Kristy, the same coach, all four years at Endicott,” Taylor shared. “Each semester, we would sit down, and I would set goals for myself.”

He learned that he works best in intense 25- to 30-minute bursts, with a five-minute break in between: “Sitting at my desk for hours doesn’t produce my best results. I learned how to better organize and manage my time in coaching.”

With the funds he saved thanks to the Salice Family Academic Support Scholarship Fund, he could focus on things like cooking healthy meals for himself in his off-campus apartment and fueling his brain and body for the possibility of playing pro rugby post-graduation.

Each May, the center holds a graduation party for students like Taylor, their families, and coaches.

“Watching the changes that come over these students in four short years is overwhelming,” Cohn said. “To see the parent’s pride and the closeness between the students and their coaches is rewarding.”

Oftentimes, students stay in touch with their coaches well past Endicott and apply the skills they learned at the Center to mentor younger team members in their professional lives.

“The people we say hello to are not the people we say goodbye to,” Cohn said before heading off to her next coaching session.