Education Honorees: Most Likely to Empower Students — Dr. Heidi Neal
They are changing the educational landscape through their innovative ideas and dedication to seeing every student achieve academic success. Read on to find out how one of our Excellence in Education Honorees is bringing joy into the classroom.
DR. HEIDI NEAL
Director of Student Success and Student Affairs at University of Louisville, JB Speed School of Engineering
Category: School Leadership
Dr. Heidi Neal creates abundant opportunities that cater to the needs of every type of student. Heidi oversees the college’s academic counselors, leadership development, diversity [program], enrollment management, and retention initiatives, which serves nearly 2,000 undergraduate engineering students. She and her team developed partnerships with the West End School, Nativity Academy, and Central High School, which included installation of makerspaces within the schools. These makerspaces are equipped with electronics, tools, and engineering kits students can use to work on projects. Heidi says students must learn skills to help them adapt to impermeability of college and life. “I believe it’s important for hands-on activities and learning through doing … getting stuck and problem-solving and then celebrating the success,” she says.
Defining moment: I knew I was in the right field when I received my first note from a student, which stated that a service learning project I led changed her life forever and made her a better person. It was the moment I knew I could positively impact my community and the next generation of leaders.
Dealing with virtual learning: Our virtual situation has allowed us to think differently and out-of-the-box on everything from supporting each other to intervention programs for students. It’s been a great opportunity to think about how we can expand our support services and programming for students outside of campus.
Best icebreaker question for students: “What cookie would you be and why?” It’s a great insight into a person’s mindset, and who doesn’t love cookies?
Soft skills you value: The soft skill I value the most is the ability to care and the ability to understand a person’s experience. If a person cares about another person or the situation, this leads to genuine and positive solutions.