Tech’s Launchpad Student Success Center helping first-year and transfer students succeed

Simone McKelvey, director of the Launchpad Student Success Center, and Christopher Kohl, assistant director, are ready to serve students in the new Launchpad Student Succes Center located on the first floor of the Volpe Library.The first year of college can be challenging for students in many ways. To support them and their transition to college life, Tennessee Tech University has created the Launchpad Student Success Center.

This new center, located on the first floor of the Volpe Library, focuses on first-year student advising, transition, career-readiness and success with an additional emphasis on assisting undecided/undeclared students with career and major exploration and selection.

“The framework behind Launchpad was to create a consistent experience for first-year students and provide them with a supportive team of professional advisors, additional programming and the overall mission to connect them with students and resources on campus early,” said Allen Mullis, executive director for student success. “We are working with the colleges to ensure the students are properly advised and that they are enrolled in courses to successfully navigate and complete their freshman year.”

Launchpad is student-focused and welcomes all first-year and undecided students. It fosters positive professional relationships between students, advisors, faculty and staff; encourages academic exploration; and empowers students to take ownership of their educational experiences.

“Because of the pandemic and how challenging this year has been, there is a higher level of anxiety with students,” said Simone McKelvey, director of the Launchpad Student Success Center. “We have conversations with students about getting them connected to resources and giving them a toolbox of resources they can use when they are feeling anxious, so that they don’t get stuck in a rut.”

McKelvey and her team are trained to identify and provide students with access to tools and resources on and off campus to help them in their transition to academic and college life at Tech. Additionally, they partner with faculty to identify concerns with first-year students' academic success, course attendance and participation, and well-being to intervene early and often to help keep students on track to graduate.

“We just want to see students succeed,” said McKelvey. “We want students who start at Tech to finish at Tech and for us to do everything we can to ensure they are successful.”

Launchpad is an outcome of the Tech Tomorrow strategic plan, which identified four key goals to guide university planning and growth. Launchpad addresses each of the goals. Part of Launchpad’s success will be measured by first-year retention rates. Tech’s Fall 2019 to Fall 2020 first-year retention rate was 77.5 percent.

“It’s a team effort and Launchpad is just a small piece of the puzzle,” said Mullis. “We’ll continue to identify challenges that students face and provide support and assistance to navigate their curriculum, class attendance concerns, sense of belongingness or other factors that lead to student departure. Tennessee Tech is committed to our students and the creation of Launchpad demonstrates the investment to their education.”

For more information about the Launchpad Student Success Center, go to

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