By Cassandra Sottile
Elm Staff Writer
Over the summer, Washington College hired a new academic resources coordinator for various offices that provide tutoring and academic services.
Shirk, a resident of Chestertown for the past seven years, began in her new role on Monday, Aug. 7. As part of this position, Shirk will be working with the Office of Academic Skills, the Writing Center, and the Quantitative Skills Center.
Recently Shirk had been working part-time while staying home with her three children.
“I definitely made the right choice to come back to work after 10 years with kids,” she said. “I had been scanning the HR website for six months hoping something would come up so that I could work face-to-face with students again. I am so excited to work with everyone.”
Prior to her new position at the College, Shirk worked in higher education as a liaison between students and faculty at University of Maryland University College, where she dealt with student concerns, such as having trouble registering for a course. Shirk also worked closely with the MBA chapter at UMUC, overseeing the creation of a global MBA program that had a more international focus.
Shirk accepted the position at WC because she wanted to interact with students.
“While working with the MBA program at UMUC, 95 percent of the job was emailing or calling the graduates who took the MBA program online. There was no face-to-face interactions. I wanted to become part of the community of the students,” she said.
Shirk previously worked as the First Year Experience Coordinator at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I.
“I worked one-on-one with mentors to help make the transition for freshmen into college smoother. Mentors and one staff or faculty member accompanied a class of 12 freshmen in a one-credit course that dealt with specific curriculum about homesickness, the resources available on campus, the interests of the students and how they could get involved on campus,” she said.
While at Salve Regina University, Shirk also worked at the Pell Center for International Relations & Public Policy, and was involved with event planning, international programs, and running a lecture series.
OAS Director Andrea Vassar said, “We are excited to have [Liz] join the academic resources team. She has already made a noticeable impact, and I know that as she settles into her role as the academic resources coordinator, students, faculty and staff will see her as an indispensable part of the WC family.”
Shirk will be working specifically in disability services, handling student outreach and informing students about resources that are available to them on campus.
Assistant Director of OAS Hilary Chubb said, “We are so excited to have Liz here; she’s a great addition to the office. She is helping to support disability services in a lot of ways as well as three of the offices that provide tutoring. We are glad to have someone who is already invested in the WC and Chestertown community as part of our office.”
Shirk’s office is on the second floor of Miller Library in the Office of Academic Skills.
“I might not have answers right away for the students, but I want them to know that I am here for them and that my door is always open.”