Heather Levesque loves coming to work every day. The director of New Student and Family Programs has worked at ETSU for nearly six years and says she can’t imagine doing anything else – well, except maybe serving as a commentator for college football.
“I just really love college football,” Levesque says. “So if I could have another job, say for maybe a month, I’d want to be a commentator for games.”
For now, Levesque will continue with her efforts to help students succeed at ETSU.
“Ultimately, everything we are doing is for the success of our students and to retain them through graduation,” Levesque says. “This is a place that welcomes and wants to see all students thrive.”
Levesque is passionate about that mission and leads many events on campus directed at helping students feel comfortable and capable at the university. In addition to student orientation sessions, the Preview program put on through her office provides an opportunity for new students to spend three days immersing themselves in the college experience prior to the start of their first academic year.
“Preview allows students to really make a connection with each other,” Levesque says. “My goal is, by the end of Preview, for every student to have made friendships that will help them persist and succeed at ETSU.”
Her favorite, Levesque says, is the Preview and Orientation Leader Organization, or POLO for short. Approximately 70 students are selected through a competitive interview process to serve as the “face of the university” and help incoming students feel welcomed.
“Our goal is to train POLO leaders to know how to make a student feel comfortable at this institution,” Levesque says. “Our POLO leaders are such unique and diverse students who bring so much to the table. They are amazing. They are the reason we are so successful with our programs. They make this a great place to be.”
Levesque and her team also work to connect with families and parents of ETSU students, most recently through the creation of the Buccaneer Family Association three years ago.
“The program has really grown. We have 900 families who are a part of it, which equates to about 1,600 members,” Levesque said. “It’s a really important program because research and data show us that having parents and family members engaged in their student’s college experience helps ensure that student’s success at the university.”
Originally from Yorktown, Virginia, Levesque landed in Johnson City when her husband, Stephen, was relocated here for work with the federal government. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Radford University and her master’s degree in college student affairs administration from the University of Georgia.
Levesque admits she was not always sure this field was the right fit for her as far as a career, noting that even when she got out of graduate school she remained uncertain. Her time at ETSU, however, has affirmed to her that she is on the right path.
“I know this is where I am supposed to be because of the students whose lives I have been able to affect in a positive way,” she says. “The most rewarding thing is to be able to make a difference in people’s lives.”