"One thing that is evident about our students and staff is that they are resilient."

April 10, 2020

Hello! My name is Jonelle Gulston, and I am the Access Program Director for Bottom Line in New York. I have been with Bottom Line for the past four years; before joining the Access team, I worked as a Success Team Manager. As an undergraduate, I attended CUNY Brooklyn College.

I manage the quality of Access programming to ensure that it is delivered consistently and obtains high-impact results. I provide day-to-day oversight to Access operations and staff. During a typical day in the office, I might meet with the Access Team Manager to get an update on the team, work on data reports to ensure the program is on track to achieve its goals, hold trainings, or take a student meeting.

Due to social distancing, all Bottom Line staff had to begin working from home on March 12, 2020. It's a challenge not to be in the office with my coworkers. We rely on each other for support, and I am making sure that our team continues doing that remotely. We use Slack and video calls to stay in touch. Despite the changes, I am still able to keep in contact with the team regularly.

Currently, the team is focused on supporting our students as they make their college decisions. We encourage our students to attend a college that is affordable for them and their families, and that ideally has the fit factors they identified during their meetings early in the year with their Advisor.

I'm also using this time to get ahead and see if the team is on target to meet future goals so that they can make changes and updates accordingly. Much of my work is behind the scenes and helps the team stay on track.

One thing that is evident about our students and staff is that they are resilient. Our students are adapting to distance learning, and our team has had to get used to working on platforms like GoToMeeting, without prior practice. Our Access Advisors had to adapt the work they do by providing students with more materials before meetings, so they can be prepared when they do meet.

One of the biggest challenges that we have faced is the ever-changing landscape of college admissions; National College Signing Day is May 1, but due to COVID-19, many colleges are pushing back their commitment dates to June 1. This information is changing every day and may affect when a student commits to college. And we're definitely missing seeing our students move their stars to their college pennants; one of the ways we celebrate students' achievements.

Thankfully, student attendance at meetings has been consistent and in some cases, it has increased. We have had 273 meetings since starting to work from home. I'm excited to see where our students commit to college, and so proud of my Advisors for pushing through and delivering the best services to our students.