Kalamazoo Valley Community College

SSC Advocates Meet our Advocates



Texas Township Campus
Arcadia Commons Campus
Other Links

KVCC Advocacy program is a mentoring partnership between students and advocates. Advocates are responsible for providing one-on-one support to help improve students' academic performance, attitude toward school, and engage students to the community of KVCC.

Whether you are an 18-year-old high school graduate, a returning student or someone who has been away from the educational environment for years, your Advocate is your personal mentor and guide through the complexities of the college environment. You will be given straight answers, efficient and timely information and all the support needed in order to help manage your way competently and efficiently through the college experience.

Students who join the Advocacy program are provided support to assure a balance between their personal and educational life. For more information on how to become a member of the Student Success Center please contact 269-488-4040.
Office location click here.

Texas Township Campus Advocates

LaJoyce Brooks, MBA
Success Advocate Coordinator
Office Number: 9316
269-488-4685
Lbrooks@kvcc.edu

Background Information
My professional career in higher education began at Davenport University over 15 years ago, where my role as an Academic Advisor in Battle Creek, Mi helped me realize what I wanted to do with the rest of my life; develop and implement processes that keep students engaged to the community of college, and equip students with the tools to be successful. Continuing in Student Services my role and responsibilities varied from Financial Aid Specialist to Assistant Director of Admissions. Upon completing my graduate degree, Masters of Business Administration (MBA) in Strategic Management.

I began classroom instruction for the School of Business of Davenport University, and currently for the Arts and Science Division of Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC). I've also worked as a strategic consultant aiding non-profit organizations with strategic planning, and organizational change. I am a firm believer that learning requires active participation! Therefore, I encourage you all to channel your energy toward taking greater social and academic risks in the classroom so that your contributions have a dynamic impact on the college experience.


Special Interests
I'm a resident of Kalamazoo, Michigan; I've lived here the majority of my life, moving from Missouri when I was 7 years old. My husband and I enjoy this part of the country and have no real desire to leave Michigan, although we're discussing a second home somewhere warm to escape the Michigan winters.

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Byron Foster, BS
Success Advocate
Office Number: 9311
269-488-4893
Bfoster@kvcc.edu

Background Information
Byron attended Howard University, Washington DC., and Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ, from which he earned a BS Degree in Business Management. He has also served his country in the U.S. Air Force (Vietnam Veteran).

Byron Foster’s professional career has consisted of diversified industry human resources positions, executive search positions, management of a not-for-profit internship development organization affiliate in Chicago, and Student Advocate. In addition he has managed independent consulting projects, focused on career transition coaching and training, professional staffing, valuing differences, diversity training and professional development program design and facilitation, and event planning project management.

He has had extensive involvement with several organizations including KHRMA (Kalamazoo HR Management Association), NSBE (National Society of Black Engineers), GEM (National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science), NABA (National Association of Black Accountants), NBMBAA (National Black MBA Association), NSHMBA (National Society of Hispanic MBA’s), NAAAHR (National Association of African Americans in HR), NSN (National Sales Network), and Inroads. He has served as committee chair/co-chair, on advisory boards, and workshop facilitator for several of these and other organizations.


Special Interests
Byron was born and raised in New York city. He is married to Nancy and has 4 children, all of whom are adults and engaged in their respective careers, and 6 grandchildren.

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Amy Triemstra, BA
Success Advocate
Office Number: 9312
269-488-4817
Atriemstra@kvcc.edu

Background Information
Attending college was a great experience for me. I loved the learning environment, the activities, and the opportunities earning my degree gave me. I graduated from Albion College with a Bachelors degree in Secondary Education and History and with a minor in Political Science. From college I went on to work in the non profit sector and taught in an Alternative Education program until the birth of my first child. After staying home with my children for a period of time I accepted a position as a success advocate at KVCC. This role allows me to share my love of learning with students and help ensure their success and enjoyment of their experience at KVCC.

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Monica Koning, BA, MA
Success Advocate
Office Number: 9313
269-488-4789
Mkoning@kvcc.edu

Background Information
I grew up in Kalamazoo, went to Hope College where I graduated with a BA in Communications and Business Administration. I did attend Kalamazoo Valley in the summer when I was home and it helped me to graduate in four years. During my senior year at Hope College I worked as a Career Advisor and discovered how much I enjoyed working with students and in a college environment. After graduation, I came back to Kalamazoo and worked in advertising sales and management. While working, I continually took classes to obtain my Master's degree in Organizational Communication from WMU.

I then worked for Astra Zeneca as a Pharmaceutical Sales Specialist. In this position I was able to gain experience in sales, marketing, training and personal development. After staying home with my children for a few years I was ready to get back into the work-force. I worked part-time for an accountant/financial advisor for a few years and then accepted the position of Success Advocate here at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.


Special Interests
I enjoyed listening to people and learning what interests and motivates them. I look forward to working with the students of KVCC. The Success Center has so much to offer students and I will help you take advantage of all that is available. I will also help you set goals and then do everything I can to help you achieve them!

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Benjamin Ash, BS
Success Advocate
Office Number: 9311
269-488-4692
Bash@kvcc.edu

Background Information
Hi, my name is Ben Ash. I graduated from Western Michigan University with a bachelor’s degree, double majoring in Psychology and Sociology. During my time at Western I really grew to enjoy the whole process of learning and the challenge it provides. After graduating from Western I worked for a mental health agency in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. After I left Sault Ste. Marie, I returned to Kalamazoo and worked in spa sales and most recently in the manufacturing. My interest in education and passion for working with people drew me to the Success Advocate position. I look forward to assisting the students of KVCC to succeed.

Special Interests
When I have free time, there are several things I enjoy. I enjoy exercise, but I also enjoy cooking which can sometimes defeat the purpose of exercise. I also enjoy doing projects around the house and spending time with my family. We like to take the train to Chicago and explore the zoos and museums. Overall I just like to stay active.

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Jessica Amey, BA, MA
Success Advocate
Office Number: 9320
269.488.4709
jamey@kvcc.edu

Background Information
I earned my Master's degree from Western Michigan University in Counselor Education. I also have a BA in Criminal Justice with a minor in Social Work from WMU. I have worked as a salon manager for several years which has given me valuable experience in customer service and human relations. In the past, I have worked for Gryphon Place as well as volunteered for the YWCA's mentor program. These experiences, along with my studies at Western, have solidified my goals of helping others and being involved within the community. I am passionate about assisting students in identifying and achieving their goals through providing them with the necessary support and resources to succeed. I am very excited to begin working with students here at KVCC!

Special Interests
I was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I love it here! Michigan is a beautiful place to live. I enjoy skiing and ice skating in the winter and spending time at the lake during the summer, as well as traveling. Quality time with my family and friends is very important to me. I like being outside and taking walks with my dogs. I also really enjoy listening to people and helping them solve problems. I look forward to getting to know you!

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Cristina Miller, BA, MA
Success Advocate
Office Number: 9315
269-488-4731
cmiller1@kvcc.edu

Background Information
Hi! My name is Cristina Miller. I grew up in Commerce Township, Michigan, and received my Bachelors Degree in Interpersonal Communication from Central Michigan University in 2006. In 2010, I received my Masters in Higher Education & Student Affairs from Western Michigan University. I love working with students, helping them discover their goals and create their own path toward success. My Top 5 Strengths of Positivity, Developer, WOO, Harmony, and Communication greatly attribute to my passion for education and student success. I want to not only help students to achieve their established goals, but to also enjoy their time at Kalamazoo Valley.

Special Interests
I love to travel, read, and play soccer – all of which I try to do regularly. I also enjoy cooking and baking, but I would definitely consider myself a beginner. I love to be social and spend time with family and friends, so my office door is always open! Come by and say hello!

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Chris Karbowski, BA
Success Advocate
Office Number: 9314
269-488-4605
ckarbowski@kvcc.edu

Background Information
Hi! My name is Chris Karbowski. I am originally from Three Rivers, Michigan. I moved to Kalamazoo to attend Western Michigan University to pursue my career goal of being a teacher. For as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be a teacher. In 2009 I obtained a bachelor in Secondary Education degree with a major in History and minors in Political Science and Geography. After graduation I gained classroom experience by being a substitute teacher. I gained valuable lessons that I was able to carry into my own classroom at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. For the past several years I have worked as a part-time instructor in Transitional Studies. I have taught courses in study skills, reading, and career exploration. While teaching reading, I decided to go back to Western Michigan to work on a Master of Literacy Studies degree.

Besides teaching I have also been an in-class tutor for English and math as well as working in the testing center. I have always seen myself as a teacher, but as I have had the chance to develop and experience life I have found that teaching does not necessarily mean in a classroom.

I have an understanding of the wide variety of services KVCC has to offer and I am excited and willing to help guide you through your educational experience at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.


Special Interests
Sharing one of My Top 5, Achiever, means I am always staying busy. Between working, teaching, and taking classes I do still find time to spend with friends and family. In my down time I like run, read, and work on home improvement projects around my recently purchased home.

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Arcadia Commons Campus Advocates

Ashley McCann
Success Advocate
Office Number: AWH 116
269-373-7865
amccann@kvcc.edu

Background Information
Hey Cougars! My name is Ashley McCann. I’m originally from Flint, Michigan, and I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Communication from Western Michigan University in 2011. I went straight to graduate school at WMU and earned a Master’s Degree in Higher Education & Student Affairs in June 2013. I discovered my passion for higher education and “college life” while working in various areas, such as First-Year Experience, Admissions, Military & Veterans Affairs, Student Outreach, and others. I’m excited to be an advocate at KVCC; it gives me the opportunity to work with students one-on-one, helping them to reach their personal and academic goals using different success strategies. Plus, I love Kalamazoo! If you take classes downtown, I look forward to meeting you!

Special Interests
I really enjoy traveling—I take a trip to Northern Michigan at least once every summer, and Key West is my favorite place to have visited thus far (ask me, I’ll tell you all about it!). I also love to read, take walks with my dog, and catch the latest movies.

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