In 2018, Abby Pitts joined Cumberland University’s faculty as the Director of Student Retention and Tennessee Promise Support. As a Foundations of Scholarship and Learning (FSL) teacher, Pitts is driven by the desire to help students, specifically academically at-risk populations, graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree. With opportunities presented by the Tennessee Promise Scholarship and resources provided by FSL, Freshmen can feel confident and well-equipped when beginning their college careers.
While working with Freshmen, Pitts enjoys seeing the growth they experience just in the first semester.
“Many people are away from home for the first time and the educational environment is just so different than it is in high school,” says Pitts. “I love having a front row seat for this growth and FSL gives students such an opportunity to explore different aspects of themselves.”
For students wanting to build community as well as their resumes, Cumberland has over 55 student organizations and clubs and is a great place to get involved and hold student leadership positions. With a Master of Arts in Leadership, Pitts knows the value of being a leader in her community and encourages students to get involved with different organizations to discover new areas of interest.
“There are so many different clubs and organizations and the Student Life Office does a great job of supporting students who want to start their own clubs,” says Pitts. “Don’t be afraid to go to different club meetings at the start of the semester. Also, use your academic advisor or teachers as resources if you don’t know where to begin in a leadership capacity.”
It’s no secret that college is challenging, but Pitts has tips for how students can balance their workloads and enjoy all four formative years.
“When I started college, I thought I knew for sure what my path would be. When I discovered that it wasn’t my passion during my sophomore year, I really started panicking about what my future would look like. A friend of mine, who was older, gently reminded me that I didn’t have to have it all figured out in college! You will change so much over the next few years and I promise it will work out－ even if you can’t really figure it out right now. Trust yourself, trust your gut and trust your judgement!”
A good way to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the unknown is planning for what you do know. Before beginning the semester, consider ways to organize your tasks and dedicate yourself to staying on track.
Pitts stays organized by syncing Google Calendar to her phone, saying, “I check my calendar every Sunday night so that I know what the next week will look like.”
Instead of being overwhelmed by all that needs to be done in a month or in a semester, this helps her tackle one week at a time. She also depends heavily on making lists and writing on Post-It notes for her weekly tasks.
Planning for breaks is another important part of staying motivated during the school year. As an avid reader, Pitts believes that reading for fun should be a priority.
“I encourage students to have something they’re reading for pleasure, just to break up the monotony of school work. It’s so important to figure out the best balance between work and doing something you enjoy,” says Pitts. “Even if it’s for only 15 or 20 minutes a day, reading is such a great escape to clear your mind.”
Other than reading in her free time, Pitts enjoys cooking and spending time with her friends and family. During the fall, she is often at football games with her three daughters and husband, who is a football coach.