Eastern Kentucky University’s Jennifer McKnight recently brought home a regional award for service to students from the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH).
The NRHH is a leadership-based honorary including more than 200 chapters of residential students who value recognition and service. The NRHH was founded in 1964 as a solution to the National Association of College and Residence Halls’ financial difficulties.
McKnight was nominated by students for the award because of the difference she makes in students’ lives. McKnight currently works in the Dean of Students office as the Student Case Manager. Her work with student challenges ranges from personal to academic, assisting them in areas such as housing, tutoring support, financial aid, micro grants and more.
“We’re just trying to get these students connected with every support we have in order to get them on the right track of being successful,” said McKnight. “I think a lot of students here are first generation college students who may not have the navigation tools that other students have, so it’s important to get them connected to the offices and the staff and faculty that can be there to back them throughout their career.”
McKnight knows what being a Colonel means, and considers herself an “Eternal Colonel.” She first graduated from EKU in 2004 with a bachelor’s in Sociology. She has worked in several departments at the University including housing, student life, career services, enrollment management, and as the administrative coordinator to the executive vice president for university council and student success. While working at EKU, she obtained her master’s in Student Personnel Services in 2016.
McKnight’s nomination reads,, “Jennifer pours her heart into her job and not only the students but other staff members can also tell. There are only ever positive things said about Jennifer and everyone looks up to her with all the compassion she has for our students on EKU's campus. Jennifer works hard and has a light that shines. She supports different on campus programs and initiatives and truly represents what EKU stands for. Jennifer responds quickly and is always willing to answer any questions or confusion with grace and patience. Jennifer has a heart of gold and is an amazing role model to everyone she encounters.”
With COVID-19, some University offices are conducting appointments virtually; however, the Dean of Students office is inviting students to attend meetings in-person.
“We saw a lot more students in the fall that were experiencing feelings of isolation and depression due to COVID restrictions,” said McKnight. “Sometimes it helps to meet students in person to really talk through what they are going through at the time and get them connected with the right resources.”
McKnight’s advice to students experiencing feelings of isolation and depression is to seek out help. “You are not alone,” said McKnight. “Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.” McKnight encourages students with these feelings to contact the EKU Counseling Center, which now has after hours support as well.
“If we can influence students that are struggling, just a little bit by getting them connected to resources then maybe we can help them persevere and stay,” said McKnight. “And if they do need to take some time away, they’ll know the door is always open.”
For more information about student success services, visit https://studentaffairs.eku.edu.