Meet the Success Coach: Kissa Powell
If earning a degree is the fire, then Kissa Powell strives to be the spark — the enthusiastic catalyst for helping students achieve their dreams. Perhaps it’s her background in helping people: an aspiring doctor, she received her degree in molecular and cellular biology before spending 10 years in the military. She then went on to work for a military program at the University of Phoenix, helping students enroll and access available benefits.
When Kissa learned about the Success Coaching Center for ASU Online students, she thought the role sounded perfect.
“Being a Success Coach allows me to build on my skill of caring about people, and employ it in a way that helps students stay motivated and focused on school,” Kissa explains.
On a daily basis, Kissa works with students on any goal they are striving toward, be it academic, professional or personal. She also helps them discover ways to effectively tackle any challenges that roadblock them from successfully earning their degree.
“It’s helping someone see the big picture,” she says.
“We’re encouraged to do everything we can to help our students. What I really love is that our students are so enthusiastic about being in school. They are receptive when I tell them that although things may seem difficult right now, we can get where they want to go together — I’m going to empower them to get to that point.”
She shares the story of a student who was in the process of starting her online program, but was also in the midst of moving across the state. Between organizing her home, finding movers and ensuring she would have a job in her new location, the student was understandably overwhelmed. Kissa discussed each detail of the move with her point by point, from when the movers would arrive to how the student would set up internet connectivity once she settled in. In the end, they both decided it would be best to move her school start date to the spring.
“She wasn’t going to be successful in her classes with the move on her mind,” Kissa says.
“Success doesn’t mean staying in the class. It’s deciding to square away the current situation you’re facing, then pressing on with school once that stress is behind you.
"It was definitely outside the scope of an academic conversation, but she let me know that she didn’t have anyone else to talk to, and being there for her in a way she needed was very important to me.”
It’s through stories like these that Kissa has learned how resilient her online students are, as well as how open they are to her suggestions. Their willingness to step into uncharted territory while trying to balance everything else in their lives serves as her inspiration. Similar encouragement can be found amongst the other coaches on her team.
“Everyone is really upbeat and supportive,” Kissa describes.
“We’re coming together from very different backgrounds and skill sets, which is a huge benefit because we can be open-minded enough to say, ‘I didn’t think of it that way,’ or ‘That’s a new approach I should consider.’ It’s a respectful environment centered on how we can proactively get better.”
It is this focus on being hands-on that Kissa hopes to impart to her students.
“I want them to know they are the ones in charge,” she says. “I won’t just give them the answers — it’s ultimately up to them. But I will be the anchor they can rely on for support.”