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Melissa DiLeo

We need to look at student success through a holistic lens

“Student success comes from a wrap-around model of care,” says Melissa DiLeo, associate director, student & community experience on the Brantford campus, and an Our Laurier donor. “Supporting students means supporting the whole student.”

Holistic care is foundational to DiLeo’s role in the Dean of Students Office, where she works with students in financial or social crisis and providing support in preventative care.

As a donor, DiLeo supports both the Brantford’s Area of Greatest Need Fund and the Brantford Student Emergency Fund. Her goal in her work and in her giving is to nourish student wellness through a variety of ways.

“Our students come to us with different lived experiences,” she says. “Some experiences are a result of personal decisions, but often, students find themselves in situations beyond their control. My donation can support a student having their textbooks replaced because of a fire, or provide a gas card so they can come to class, or groceries so they aren’t going hungry.”

“I know what a difference emergency funds can mean for someone who is in an unexpected financial situation.”

Donor-supported funding for mental health can help in a variety of ways – indirectly by supporting a student’s academics or financial situation or directly by funding wellness programming – and it is critical to student academic success. When students are cared for as whole people they have a much better chance of staying in school even if they are in crisis, and finding the stability they need to thrive.

DiLeo also lifts her colleagues who do the important work of holistic caring for Laurier students every day.

“Laurier has a really amazing team that is actively working together to support students across departments and disciplines,” she says. “Support may look like something as simple as reaching out with resources to supports on campus or linking the student with financial support that speaks to the specific needs of the students.”

She acknowledges the pandemic has made students even more vulnerable.

“I think the pandemic has been really difficult on everyone,” she says. “In recent conversations with students I’ve made sure to help them identify not only the areas they need support in, but recognize how difficult this year has been for them and celebrate their successes.”

DiLeo wants to inspire her colleagues to support student mental health through Our Laurier.

“It’s important for staff and faculty to set the example that we are more than ‘titles’ that work with students,” she says. “We can provide students with a chance to bring their best selves into the campus community.”

To join Melissa DiLeo and hundreds of other staff and faculty who help our students thrive, make a donation online or by payroll today.

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