New Student Services employees here to help

February 17th, 2022

By Whitney Baxter

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help – that’s why we’re here.”

Those words of advice are offered to Iowa State University students by three new College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Services employees.

Justin Roberson, student retention coordinator, and Greer Potadle, SMART STEPS coordinator, joined Esperanza Moothart, emergency support coordinator, on the CALS Student Services team at the beginning of January. Moothart has been with student services since last fall. Together, the three will offer holistic services to help CALS students succeed during their academic career.

Putting together tools needed for success

Justin RobersonRoberson comes to CALS Student Services after spending time with Iowa State’s Department of Residence as a hall director in Geoffrey Hall. In that role, he organized student staff training and worked to make diversity efforts a priority.

He’s looking forward to working not only with CALS students, but also with faculty, staff and administration within the college to see how student services can be improved. A goal of his is to connect students to resources the college and university offer.

“I want to help retain students in CALS so they can reach their dreams,” Roberson said. “CALS is a great place to gain the knowledge and experience to reach those dreams, but we want to make sure someone is there to help along the way when students need assistance.”

He said between himself, Moothart and Potadle, their team will look at every aspect of student support.


Taking SMART STEPS to improve academic standing

Greer PotadleA 2018 animal science graduate, Potadle enjoys working with students and is excited to be running a program she helped create as a former CALS Student Services student employee.

Unique to CALS, SMART (Student Management and Academic Response Team) STEPS began as a pilot program in spring 2019. Its goal is to provide individualized plans to improve the academic performance of CALS students who have grade point averages below 2.0.

Since then, the program has helped more than 100 CALS students through one-on-one mentorship, tutoring services, goal setting, progress report completion and more. Potadle expects approximately 50 students will be enrolled in the program this semester.

“I’m excited to actually be in the thick of it and really help them,” Potadle said.

Students typically are involved in the program for one semester, though Potadle said they can stay involved as long as they want.

A ‘lifesaver’ in emergency situations

Esperanza MoothartMoothart knows first-hand the relief support from the CALS Student Services office can offer. She received an emergency grant to help fund her studies at Iowa State, allowing her to graduate in May 2021 with a global resource systems degree.

She now works with students just like her who need emergency and completion grants to help fund their college education when facing challenging circumstances.

“We understand how much stress worrying about financial issues can add on top of concerns students may already have about classes and other responsibilities,” Moothart said. “We want to help take away some of that stress.”

The assistance Moothart offers goes beyond financial needs. She also can help connect students to resources to overcome mental and physical barriers impacting their education.

She encourages students to not be afraid to ask for assistance – she and her colleagues in the CALS Student Services office are there to help guide students through difficult situations. And if they don’t have all the answers, they’ll connect students with other resources at the university or in the community.

“The hardest part is reaching out for help. After that, it’s relatively smooth sailing,” Moothart said.

Reach out

The CALS Student Services office is located in 0020 Curtiss Hall and is open Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students can contact Roberson, Potadle and Moothart via email: