The Secret Weapon

BY BRENDAN CRONIN // MAY 10, 2012 // 

Lynn Zlotkowski has been rooting for the underdog as far back as she can remember. As academic success coordinator at Curry College, she continues to do so.

As a sports fan from Buffalo, N.Y., Zlotkowski knows a little something about underdogs. She has witnessed her beloved Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres struggle mightily to win their first championships, and has remained faithful to both clubs in spite of their woes and failures. She even named her Boston terrier “Miller” after Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.

As academic success coordinator, Lynn Zlotkowski works closely with students to get their education back on track. // PHOTOS BY BRENDAN CRONIN

As academic success coordinator and assistant to the academic dean at Curry, Zlotkowski certainly has her hands full. She provides support to academically at-risk students, connects students to academic resources, collaborates with faculty to provide academic support to undergraduate students, and works with various departments to improve student retention rates. Zlotkowski also oversees the academic early-alert system, an online system that allows faculty to notify students—and her office—that they are missing assignments, missing too many classes, and/or aren’t putting forth a strong enough effort in their work.

Zlotkowski, 30, feels that struggling students often need support to succeed, and that they shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. “Whether it’s personal problems, transitioning from high school to college, or whatever the case may be, some students just need a little help and guidance to get back on track,” she says. “When it comes to the underdog, it doesn’t always work out, but when it does it makes it that much greater.”

Zlotkowski joined Curry in June 2011. She was previously the coordinator of new student orientation and assistant director of the Learning Commons at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pa. Zlotkowski earned her bachelor’s degree in communication at SUNY-Fredonia and her master’s degree in student personnel administration at SUNY-Buffalo.

She says her experience in and passion for sports has served her well at Curry, given that so many students here are sports fans. As a former Division 3 athlete and coach, Zlotkowski says she can often get through to students in ways that others might not be able to.

PHOTO BY BRENDAN CRONIN

According to Max Andrus, a junior who works with Zlotkowski, she goes above and beyond to help students she barely even knows. “Lynn never gives up,” he says. “If a student is headed down the wrong path, academically speaking, Lynn makes sure that they get where they need to go.

“She understands that Curry College has trouble communicating between the faculty and its students, and Zlotkowski will actually take time out of her day to make sure the students have a clear grasp about their education,” Andrus adds. “So often at Curry College I have found that situations are handled like an assembly line, so…it is nice to finally meet someone who is patient and seems to care about what is in the best interest of the students.”

Away from work, Zlotkowski says she enjoys walking her dog, riding her bike or “just doing anything active.” Juggling and spinning a basketball on every one of her fingers are among Zlotkowski’s many random talents, and she keeps a bag of stress-balls in her office—largely for student use, but also for herself.

Zlotkowski is also an avid reader who is currently juggling three books (pun intended). “I mostly read higher education books and really anything that has to do with work,” she says. “But I also read for pleasure and look for fun and interesting books as well.”

Zlotkowski says she finds gratification professionally when the students she works with meet their personal and academic goals. It’s often a challenge getting them there, but they wouldn’t be underdogs if everything came easily.

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