"If I go to graduate school, I need to focus on research," Daphne Gutierrez said. She questioned out loud whether or not she should even go for higher education after her undergraduate years.Todd’s suggestions were filled with encouragement and provided just a glimpse at how he influenced students; especially Urban Scholars like Gutierrez.
Todd is the coordinator for the Urban Scholars Program. The Urban Scholars Program provides scholarships to Milwaukee and Chicago high school students who excel in academics. Todd uses skills from experience, his bachelor's in business administration from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and his master's in education from the University of Louisville. His education prepared him toward figuring out creative strategies within educational success.
When asked about what his position consists of, Todd relaxed back in his chair and took time outlining his job duties.
He said that he works on budgeting and reading emailed questions scholars have about school. Todd sits down with the students in one-on-one sessions. He provides time management and study skills to those who need an increase in their academic confidence: "swagademics," the coordinator called it.
Todd also emphasized that the duties in his occupation were what really interested him.
"It’s not about the position: it’s about the work," he said. "I wanted to do the work: ‘coordinator’ is just the title, or position for the work that people do."
Ways that Todd brings scholars together includes food nights, game nights and intramurals. He also prepares meetings for Urban Scholars twice a month.
“We talk about issues of the day, whether it’s world news, national news or the issues that they have at this university,” Todd said.
The coordinator said that the type of work he contributes to first fascinated him during his undergraduate years. He said that he was involved with such leadership opportunities such as within his fraternity and becoming a resident assistant. Todd noticed that the administrators played a big part in what he showed interested in. The administrators acknowledged his passion as well.
“I was tapped on the shoulder by the admissions officer who got me into the University of Nebraska,” Todd said. “She told me that I could continue this work that I was doing as an undergrad for the rest of my life.”
Todd didn’t know that much about higher education employment. But he said that he looked forward to the opportunity of helping students achieve their academic goals. And after spending a couple years as a coordinator, Todd described the connections he obtained with students in the program as invaluable.
"Through this position I've realized that this type of work is definitely needed," Todd said. "Getting to know these students on a more intimate level than most of the students on this campus; I believe that this community is needed."
Kyle Shaffer, assistant coordinator of Marquette University’s tutorial services, said he worked with Todd for years. He admired Todd’s achievements within the program.
"Before (Todd) took the position, no one was guiding the scholars," Shaffer said. He then smiled. "(The coordinator) gives them a lot of direction."
Todd also pointed out that the position and interaction with students and co-workers made him think about preparing his own children for college in the future. He said that the knowledge he gains each day signifies as practice for him on encouraging his kids to be scholars.
"The opportunity has allowed me to rethink the in-class and out-of-class education that my own children will receive," Todd said. "Knowing what it takes to not only get into an institution like Marquette but also to succeed as a student allows me to prepare my daughters to be successful at the college level.”