This is Natissia Small, vice provost for access, academic support and workforce integration
Last June, longtime University of Missouri–St. Louis administrator Natissia Small added workforce integration to her portfolio of responsibilities leading the Student Academic Support Services unit. She’s helped form partnerships with corporations, such as Amazon, in the time since.
Why is UMSL focusing on workforce integration?
The St. Louis region has presented a call to action for institutions to think differently. As a higher educational leader, UMSL is in a prime seat to answer this call and support our corporate partners to meet industry needs. As the urban anchor institution in St. Louis, our institutional mission and goals align with our state’s priorities to increase educational access while increasing the talent pool to further support economic growth and inclusive prosperity.
Does workforce integration have any personal meaning to you?
I am personally driven as a first-generation student from rural Missouri who deeply understands the impact education can have on a family. My role affords me the opportunity to lead a division that creates accessible pathways for individuals to be successful from precollege to college matriculation to now expanding that framework to include creating unique pathways offered through workforce integration. The opportunity to promote lifelong success and transform lives is a total package that matches my professional and personal goals while working alongside a team of leaders who are equally driven to create space for everyone to be successful.
What has your approach been so far?
Creating the Office of Workforce Integration is complex because it needs many contributors to ensure that our efforts exist on a strong foundation that will remove barriers for a seamless entry to UMSL. Working collaboratively with key stakeholders such as faculty, staff, corporate and community partners is a priority. Assessing and identifying key research to support our workforce integration efforts as an urban institution is an important aspect of building our workforce model from a holistic approach to promote student success.
What are your next steps?
Continuing to turn over every stone to assess the opportunities and address the unique challenges that come when striving to meet the needs of students who have an interest in furthering their education. This is work that must be inclusive of all stakeholders to embrace meeting every individual where they are – whether they represent a marginalized group, mid-career professional or those seeking to upskill. Whatever their educational or current situation may be, it is my goal to work with others to create a space of support and belonging that will ensure their success.
This story was originally published in the spring 2022 issue of UMSL Magazine. If you have a story idea for UMSL Magazine, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Short URL: https://blogs.umsl.edu/news/?p=93536