Trinity strives to provide all students with an excellent education, and different students require different modes of learning and teaching to ensure their academic success.
In late 2020, Myron Hodge began working as Trinity’s learning specialist in Student Accessibility Services to help provide students with tools and resources to meet their unique learning needs. The brand new position was funded by a $5 million contribution from an anonymous donor that aims to provide all students with equitable access to success in their undergraduate education.
We sat down with Hodge to learn more about his position and ask how he plans to enhance the student experience at Trinity.
You are the new learning specialist here on campus. What does your position entail?
My position entails partnering with students to overcome learning barriers. I work with students who may need an intense level of academic and behavioral support. The students and I work through a program that allows them to build learning strategies and techniques tailored to their strengths, and the program is designed to promote continued learning growth and success. The students I work with may have unique challenges, barriers, needs, and learning styles that may present barriers to their learning, but my responsibility is to work with them to uncover their optimal learning medium and to assist them in connecting that across their learning continuum.
Why is your role so important?
My role is so important because the institution of education has shifted away from the traditional model. Diversity, equity, and accessibility are the driving forces in education reform today. Research has shown that students' unique learning styles and learning needs have to be heavily prioritized and addressed if we expect to see any learning success. The days of a “one size fits all” approach is long gone. Students have to be taught and supported in a way that considers their learning strengths in order to maximize learning growth, which, by the way, increases retention and graduation rates.
Trinity has introduced the learning specialist role as another piece of the academic support puzzle, ensuring its student population has every resource at their disposal for success. My position is one designed to drill down to students' individual support needs, addressing any learning barriers and assisting them in building strong learning confidence and resilience. Other educational institutions—elementary school, middle school, high school—tailor education to fit the student's needs. If a student needs more support or help, they tailor that education to the student. When you get to higher education, it's one of the only institutions that forces the student to tailor to the institution’s way of learning. “Read a book and write about it”—that's still the typical way of learning at the college level, and not everybody does well in that environment. And here at Trinity, I can honestly say they're putting forth the effort to make learning more inclusive.
How does your role help increase inclusivity on campus?
I'll start with the elephant in the room. Trinity hiring an African American male definitely helps inclusivity. It adds to the population of minorities for the employment in staff. Secondly, my role, because it is so individualized and personalized to student needs, benefits students from diverse and multidimensional backgrounds. It expands academic support outside of the traditional realm. Whatever level of support a student may need, we have positioned ourselves to be able to meet them at their need. And that is going to make our academic support department, and student accessibility services in particular, more inclusive.
What inspired you to pursue a career in education and, more specifically, as a learning specialist?
Education is my family legacy. I come from a line of educators. I've worked at the primary and secondary levels as a teacher, counselor, and coach preparing students for college level learning for years. Higher education is the next natural progression in my storyline. What inspired me to pursue this career is that I am literally interested in changing the world, and I believe higher education is the perfect platform to accomplish that ambitious mission. What I mean by that is our students at Trinity are on the cusp of their contribution to society. They are at the crossroads of their purpose and destiny, and I want to encourage and influence them to use their potential to move the world in a more positive direction.
We’re excited to have you join the Trinity family! What aspects of your position are you most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to building relationships with the students, faculty, and staff. I’ve heard so many great things about the culture here at Trinity, and I am looking forward to being a part of this great institution. I am looking forward to bringing my unique talents to the University and my department, and I am looking forward to being a part of a great turning point in this University’s history—one where diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility are highly prioritized and valued.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.