December 8, 2019

Brian Strecker: Strategy for Success

As one of UMW's student success coordinators, Brian Strecker helps students who are facing academic probation design strategies to improve their grades and achieve their goals. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

As one of UMW’s student success coordinators, Brian Strecker helps students who are facing academic probation design strategies to improve their grades and achieve their goals. Photo by Suzanne Carr Rossi.

It’s crunch time at the University of Mary Washington. Students are hitting the books, writing papers, completing projects and downing copious amounts of coffee to pull all-nighters.

The last few weeks of the semester can be stressful for anyone, particularly for those struggling to keep up. That’s where Brian Strecker and the Office of Academic Services come in. As one of UMW’s student success coordinators, Strecker works closely with students on academic probation to help them adopt strategies to improve their grades and achieve their goals.

“I make sure my students know that I care about their success, but more importantly, about them,” said Strecker, whose bachelor’s degree in philosophy prepared him to solve problems, and theatrical work taught him to hone his listening and responding skills. “As we work together, I share in their excitement at their accomplishments.”

Each student’s plan for improvement is tailored to individual circumstances, abilities and needs. But Strecker encourages everyone he helps to attend classes and engage with the network of professors, peer tutors, academic consultants, and personnel from the Writing and Speaking centers who are here to offer support and guidance.

“Over time, our students learn that many people on campus care about them,” he said, “and they become more connected to the UMW community.”

The thank-you notes from students – and sometimes even parents – that Strecker keeps in his office are a testament to his own success on the job and the impact he makes at Mary Washington.

 

Q: Where are you from and how long have you lived in the Fredericksburg area?
A: I was born in Stuttgart, then part of West Germany. Since 2002, I’ve lived in a drafty, pre-Civil War gothic cottage I restored in downtown Culpeper.

Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Witnessing the transformation of students, as they begin to realize they can be successful and become more engaged on campus.

Q: The most challenging?
A: Convincing students of their need for engagement and of their responsibility for accountability.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I’m a trained dancer. I actually shared a waltz with Mira Sorvino shortly after she won an Academy Award for her role in Mighty Aphrodite.

Q: How do you spend your free time?
A: I’m an introvert by nature and value having alone time, but I love being with my friends and family as well. I’m also an active Catholic who prays a lot, and though I’m not a voracious reader, I enjoy books about American history.

Q: What’s the most inspiring book you’ve read lately?
A: The Life of Thomas More by Peter Ackroyd. I also just started reading The Slaves’ War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves by Andrew Ward.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: I’ve never thought of having one, but I live by the words, “Do not be afraid to love.”