Unlocking Full Potential: RCPD’s Coaching Initiative

April 13th, 2016

Caitlin Van Ermen 

A Spartan registered with the RCPD can persevere at Michigan State with the tools offered inside the Bessey Hall office. Expert specialists readily assist with classroom accommodations, the technology room is equipped with the latest assistive technologies, and networking resources offer career and internship preparation. Now, a new coaching initiative offers students a comprehensive and creative partnership that addresses a student’s well-being inside and outside the classroom. Students are able to receive individualized attention, promoting self awareness and goal setting with consistent accountability and feedback.

The coaching trend is popular for athletes and professionals in a multitude of business fields. Academic coaching at the collegiate level is fairly new and involves thought-provoking questions and a holistic process to enhance both what students do and who they are: their actions and characteristics. With an RCPD coach, students explore relevant topics such as disability acceptance and awareness, professional identity development, higher-level academic skills, and life skills management.

The Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities recognizes the opportunity to utilize coaching on the college campus and see coaching tools as particularly powerful for students with disabilities. While students are in the physical classroom for a few hours a day, the majority of their collegiate demands lie outside the classroom. This new coaching initiative engages the student’s personal development.

This new development at the RCPD is available at no cost to students due to the generous support from the Tompkins family. These new RCPD partners sought a way to positively impact a member of their family and his MSU college experience with a disability.  His generous nature inspired his family to implement a platform for students to move beyond expectations.

Director of the RCPD, Michael Hudson, states, “The onset of disabilities often represent significant challenges to one’s sense of well being and potential. The Tompkins family pledged vital support to help ensure these challenges are not roadblocks. We are coaching people to move beyond expectations.”

RCPD Specialist Shani Feyen spearheads the coaching initiative. She applies her professional coaching experience with her expertise as a disability specialist to bring a new perspective to participants. Shani is interested in working with students in a new, innovative, deeper way to help create positive change with them.

Shani explains, “These students are fully engaging the concept of integration; they deeply assess what’s working (or not) in their student life, and then move into creating change that is truly meaningful to them, their academic career, and developing professional selves.”

The limitations that a disability might bring are unique to a person’s circumstances, and their experience with those circumstances. Performance inside the classroom can be affected by a combination of work, financial, relational, and educational stressors. Shani meets with students weekly or biweekly to address their individual overall performance. In order for a student to excel and achieve their full potential, they must address all parts of their life that impact their college career. Students leave each coaching session having identified what is most impactful to them as a student, considered where a change in mindset or behavior can be powerful, and set a concrete goal around creating that change.

The RCPD is excited to see how this new initiative can unlock the full potential of students. This program sets the stage for life-long achievements after graduation. 

If you are a student who would like to engage the coaching initiative, please contact Shani Feyen