June 5, 2020
MCLA's Student HelpDesk staff on a recent Microsoft Teams meeting.
In the midst of a pandemic, five MCLA students have stepped up to provide help with tech needs for the College community.
When MCLA moved its spring semester to a remote format, Brian Adelt, Lorenzo Cristofolini, Jose Scharon, Scarlett Smith, and Alexander Wojcik, all student workers for MCLA’s HelpDesk, agreed to continue to help a campus community facing the challenge of moving to remote instruction and remote work.
“After spring break, they all started to ask, ‘what can we do? How can we help?’” said Ian Bergeron, MCLA’s associate dean of information technology. Before it became clear that student intern positions would remain funded through the bulk of the spring semester, ““They all said they could do it as volunteers if we needed then to,” he said. “It blew me out of the water. This is more than just a job to them.”
MCLA’s Computer HelpDesk was already planning to roll out a chat function as a new way to work with their clients; it turned out to be an important addition to their slate of services, which also include phone help, remote desktop connections, and other standard offerings.
The students have also been able to spread the word about MCLA’s Resiliency Fund, which connects students impacted by the pandemic with funding for food, groceries, and technology needs so they can continue their studies uninterrupted.
Scharon said he enjoys working with the IT staff, even with the challenges presented by remote learning (and through his own experience with virtual instruction as a student). “Being able to come up with solutions to some of the technical problems so quickly is outstanding, from voicemail access to ticketing access,” he said. “A lot of the community might not know what goes on behind the scenes of a working network/IT workflow, and some of those challenges are hard, but with the brain power of the entire staff we have been able to resolve issues that allow us to continue to help the MCLA community.”
“The biggest challenge for me has been finding ways to use what I have at home to finish school, as well as work from home,” said Cristofolini. “It's important to me that we keep providing the IT support people need during this pandemic because I believe everyone has needed some extra help and guidance during the past few months from someone. We are all in this together, even if we are a little far apart at the moment.”
These students will continue to work through the summer, including helping students working online through MCLA’s summer class sessions, students in Leadership Academy, which will take place online this summer, and with needs around MCLA’s student orientation programming, including creating instructional videos that detail how to use the technology that keeps MCLA’s students connected to their classwork.
"We are here to assist students with technical difficulties, students who had to quickly switch from face-to-face to virtual classes, to guide them through the change and help relieve some of their anxiety about how they will complete a course," said John Clark, MCLA's HelpDesk manager. "Being able to be here remotely with my staff and support those students to continue to be successful is at the forefront of what I want to do. We are proud of our student staff for stepping up and being there for our students. It reflects what the MCLA community is truly about."
Are you an MCLA student, alum, or faculty member? Do you want MCLA to share your story? Please email Creative and Brand Strategy Manager Francesca Olsen at Francesca.Olsen@mcla.edu.