DANVILLE — When Nancy Boesdorfer finished her 18-year career last week at Danville Area Community College, she was using data to improve the college experience and success rate for under-sourced students. Years before that, though, she worked with that same student population on a more personal level.
“When I was starting out, I worked with students who were single parents on public aid,” she said. “We would do different activities, family picnics. It kept them motivated and kept them involved in school.”
Boesdorfer also helped guide students to career paths when she was the director of career services.
“A lot of students sign up for classes, and some think they know what they want, but when they get into it, then it’s not what they thought,” she said.
“I would encourage them to job shadow,” she said. “You want students to be in a field they’re happy with and can make a living at and can provide for their family.”
For the last few years, as director of institutional effectiveness, Boesdorfer was collecting and analyzing data to uncover the keys to student achievement as well as getting DACC involved in Achieving the Dream, a national community college initiative that uses data to improve student retention and success.
“Now my job deals with data,” she said. “I’m a people person, but I’m also very detailed.”
Boesdorfer said collecting data is not necessarily a new practice at DACC, but basing decisions on it is.
“We’ve always been data based and now we’re making decisions based on that data,” she said. “Student success has always been our mission and data can help with that.”
Last year, DACC was designated as a “leader college” in the Achieving the Dream initiative because the college was able to prove student success through its data.