Student Success Center in Hodes

The Student Success Center (SSC) at Avila is a collaboration among students, staff and faculty designed to enhance and further the academic and personal growth of Avila students. Located in Hodes Center (Building #8), the SSC encompasses a wide range of student services in one, centralized location:



Eiko Gilliford
Accounts Receivable Assistant
Office: 816.501.3709
Sarah Hendricks
Accounts Receivable Specialist
Office: 816.501.3735
Jenifer Hoback
Accounts Receivables Supervisor
Office: 816.501.3606
Maggie Lambi
Perkins Loan Coordinator
Office: 816.501.3741

  • Through the Student Success Center, Avila offers free and confidential counseling for your personal development and career services for your professional development. Information, resources and assistance is available in person and on our web page here.

If you need emergency assistance, dial 911
Campus Public Safety
: 816.985.6079
MOCSA Rape Crisis Line: 816.531.0233
National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-274-TALK (8255)


  • We provide services, accommodations and programs to help each student develop his/her unique potential. To find out how we can assist you, visit us in the Student Success Center, visit our webpage here or contact us at  

Susan Winters
Office Manager
Office: 816.501.3666  

  • Avila’s Financial Aid team is your resource for work study, student loans, grants, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), budgeting and everything money. More details can be found on our web page or you can email us at

Crystal Bruntz
Director of Financial Aid
Office: 816.501.3782 
Kevin Foster
Financial Aid Coordinator
Office: 816.501.3609 
Paula Tarwater
Office Manager/VA Certifying Official
Office: 816.501.3781 

  • There are a number of loan options available to students including Federal Direct and Direct PLUS, Federal Perkins Loans and loans through private lenders. Each has their merits, limitations and considerations. To help you better understand the loans and their terms and conditions, visit us in the Student Success Center.

  • As a student you have a number of tutoring services available to you including one-on-one, group and online programs. Visit us in the Student Success Center to explore your options. You can also learn more and schedule a tutoring appointment.


Susan Winters
Office Manager
Office: 816.501.3666 
Paige Illum
Director of Student Engagement and Success
Office: 816.501.3760  

15 to finish

Avila wants you to graduate in 4 years!

For this to happen, you must finish 15 credit hours every single semester. Even though 12 hours is considered a full load, here's the disappointing truth: It will take 5 YEARS to finish at that pace.
Your time and tuition dollars can be better spent.

The 15 To Finish program was created to help students achieve academic goals in record time. And, believe it or not, research shows that students who take 15-hour course loads get better grades.
It's a total win!

Finishing on time will help you:

* Avoid extra debt

*Begin your career

*Get a jump on graduate school, travel, or volunteer work

*Impress potential employees with your hard work and discipline

15 To Finish also has built-in rewards. With every 15-hour semester you complete, Avila will high five you by upgrading your student status (good for discounts and special events!) and approving your 15 To Finish club membership (read: cookie study breaks, mini parties, and maximum fun!)

P.S. Summer classes are also a smart way to stay on track.
The whole idea is to complete 30 credit hours each year
(15 a semester is just a great way to get there!)

For more information about 15 to Finish, please contact Paige Illum, Director of Student Engagement and Success. 

Taking 15 hours of college credit a semester may sound like you're not going to have a life outside studying, but successful Avila students prove you can have it all -- friends, sports, volunteer opportunities AND an on-time graduation. 

Check out the videos below! They showcase Avila students who are on track to graduate, thanks to taking 30 credit hours each year. Yes, it can be done!


Your First-Year Experience at Avila University

Welcome to Avila University! Transitioning from high school to college is a big step in your life and we want to make it easy for you. New Student Orientation will answer a lot of questions you might have and even the ones you may not know to ask. New Student Orientation begins the Friday prior to the start of classes. For more information contact Office of Admissions. First Year Seminar (FS 101) is a required course for all first year students. Avila University has also incorporated a common reading for all first year students as part of the First Year Experience program called The Common Reading Program. Student success research is very clear about how this type of program can assist in emphasizing academic importance prior to the start of classes and assist in building community within the first year class.

We offer many services to help you during your time here at Avila including:

  • Avila Care Team is there to help you with a crisis or if you have a concern about someone else.
  • Career Services is there to help with your resume and job search.
  • Counseling Services is there when you may feel a little homesick or simply need someone to talk to.
  • Disability Services is there to encourage you to develop your unique potential.
  • Health Services is there to keep you healthy.
  • Tutoring is FREE and is offered online and face-to-face.

Tips for College Success

  • Go To All Orientations. The faster you learn your way around campus, the more at ease you'll feel and the better prepared you'll be when issues arise.
  • Get Involved. Have fun in school activities and join an organization. Stay on campus as much as you can to experience campus life.
  • Get Organized. Use your student planner to help you stay organized and plan ahead for tests. Set time aside for studying, sleep, and for extra curricular activities.
  • Don't Procrastinate; Pace Yourself. Give yourself deadlines -- and stick to them. Remember to take a break every once in a while so you don't get frustrated and get burned out.
  • Get Connected. Make connections with students in your classes. Not only will you make new friends, but you know who you can tell if you had to miss a class. Know how to contact your professors and your advisor; they are there to help you.
  • Find the Career Center. Regardless of whether you are undeclared or have your entire future mapped out, they will help you get started on planning, preparing, and acting on your future.
  • Stay Healthy. Get enough sleep, take your vitamins, exercise, and eat right. Without mom or dad there to serve you a balanced meal, you may be tempted to go for those extra fries or cookies. Try to keep your junk food and fast food to a minimum.
  • Watch Your Money. If you've never had to create a budget, now is the time to do so. Don't buy into all of those credit card scams. It is very easy to get behind FAST with a credit card; only spend what you have and try to save.
  • Study, Study, Study. Find the ideal place for you to study. It may be your dorm room or a cozy corner of the library, but find a place that works best for you to get your work done -- while avoiding as many distractions as possible.
  • Be Prepared To Feel Overwhelmed. You will be taking on a lot of responsibility your first year of college. Just remember to breathe and to know that you are not the only one feeling this way.

First-Year Seminar

First Year Seminar Goal Statement:

The goals of this course are to introduce students to the academic and social knowledge, skills, and resources within the Avila community and to encourage students' personal development through an exploration of personal values, Avila's mission, and global issues. Course goals will be achieved through readings, written analysis and discussions.


Course Format:

This is a one-credit course based on a seminar format where the learning is of a collaborative nature. Through the use of small group and individual activities, students and instructors learn from one another. Course work includes, but is not limited to, orientation events, class work, assigned readings, and writing activities.

The Common Reading Program

Avila University has also incorporated The Common Reading Program for all first year students as part of the First-Year Experience. Student success research is very clear about how this type of program can assist in emphasizing academic importance prior to the start of classes and assist in building community within the first-year student population.

All first year students will receive information about The Common Reading Program during S.O.A.R. This information will include a cover letter describing the program which details an assignment. The assignment includes reading a book and responding with an essay that is due prior to the start of classes. The topic of the Common Reading Program is global in nature and varies from year to year. In addition to the readings and essay assignment, during New Student Orientation in August, students will be divided up by First Year Seminar class (both FS 101 and 102) and instructors will be provided with a detailed lesson plan to discuss the reading, essays, and become more familiar with the topic.


distance between us
"The Distance Between Us" by Reyna Grande

Read Cover Letter Here
Read Essay Questions Here


while the world watched"While the World Watched" by Carloyn Maull McKinstry

A Birmingham bombing survivor comes of age during the Civil Rights Movement.


the big truck that went by

"The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster" by Jonathan M. Katz


they poured fire on us from the sky

"They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky" by Benjamin Ajak, Bensen Deng, Alephonsian Deng, & Judy Bernstein

The true story of three Lost Boys from Sudan.


the international bank of bob

“The International Bank of Bob” by Bob Harris

Connecting our worlds one $25 Kiva Loan at a time.



"Unbroken" by Laura Hilenbrand
A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption


 the boy who harnessed the wind

"The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind" by William Kamkwamba & Bryan Mealer


  • The Millennium Development Goals Report - In 2000 the United Nations adopted eight goals in order to develop a framework for activities in over 190 countries to be achieved over a 15 year period of time. This section of the Report summarizes progress to date on the first goal, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. 
  • Always Enough: Heavenly Bread - This article provides a Christian perspective to the topic of hunger by connecting it to Bible scripture. 
  • Finding the Flexibility to Survive and The Time to Help is Now - These two essays written by American high school students for the National Public Radio (NPR) series titled, This I Believe, provide more local perspectives on the issues of poverty and hunger.


  • The Millennium Development Goals Report - In 2000 the United Nations adopted eight goals in order to develop a framework for activities in over 190 countries to be achieved over a 15 year period of time. This section of the Report summarizes progress to date on the first goal, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. 
  • The Guardian - This article is from a London newspaper that provides an additional perspective on the progress being made toward the United Nations goal of eradicating hunger and poverty. 
  • Finding the Flexibility to Survive and The Time to Help is Now - These two essays written by American high school students for the National Public Radio (NPR) series titled, This I Believe, provide more local perspectives on the issues of poverty and hunger. 

*In 2009 & 2010, a combination of articles were chosen, in place of a book, for the reading and essay assignment.

First-Year Capstone Projects

One of the course requirements of First Year Seminar (FS 101) includes a "Culminating Project" which encompasses a final reflection of experiences in FS 101. The experiences include components from:

  • The Common Reading Program
  • The Harry S. Truman Distinguished Lecture
  • As well as a deeper understanding of Avila's mission and values and a students' insight of personal vocation and calling.

The Culminating Project includes both a presentation and a written reflection. Several of the classroom presentations are selected to be presented to the University community in an "open-Mic" setting. Additionally, student reflections are selected by First Year Seminar instructors and a publication is created highlighting these reflections, allowing many of our first year students to become published. Avila is proud of the accomplishments of our first year students!

Access our most recent publications and video highlights here:

2016 First Year Publication

2015 First Year Publication

2014 First Year Publication

2014 First Year Video Highlight

2013 First Year Publication

2013 First Year Video Highlight


Second Year Checklist

Progressing from a first-year student to a second-year student brings with it a new set of items to accomplish, consider and explore. Avila would like to take the guessing out of how you can make the most of your college experience as well as items you should understand and recognize. If you have questions about the information on this page, contact:

Student Services, Hodes Center
Paige Illum, Ph.D., Director of Student Engagement & Success
Phone: 816.501.3760

Academic Success

Click here for a printable version of this checklist to help keep yourself on track for a successful second year.

_____1. Begin the semester by creating a schedule that includes dedicated time for class attendance, studying (approximately 3 hours for each credit hour; 3 credit hour class = 9 hours), co-curricular activities (athletics, student organizations, etc.), on-campus or off-campus job and other personal commitments. Here is an example of a blank activity schedule that can be completed with your personal schedule. 

_____2. Calendar all of your activities.  A visual calendar helps with organizing and prioritizing. Visuals can be calendars, planners, electronic devices, etc. 

_____3. Make sure you know your advisor and schedule time to begin discussing career opportunities as well as an academic plan course plan to work toward graduation. You advisor can be found by logging into MyAU or contacting the Registration and Student Records Office in Blasco Hall.

_____4. Become familiar with MyAU including how to access final and mid-term grades, financial information and the advising worksheet (this worksheet identifies required core and major classes and which requirements have been satisfied). Click here to access MyAU.

_____5. Explore study abroad or travel course opportunities.  For information on some of Avila’s travel courses and scholarship opportunities, visit the Center for Global Studies & Social Justice website here.

_____6. Utilize tutoring and the writing center when necessary from Learning Services. Visit their site here for detailed information and to schedule an appointment.

_____7. If applicable, renew the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon after January 1st as possible at

Career Preparation

_____1. Identify your major or explore career opportunities with a Career Services staff member located in the Hodes Center. For a list of undergraduate majors and minors, click here.

_____2. Utilize the many career assessment tools found on Avila’s Career Services webpage here.

_____3. Develop or update your resume. For detailed information or to schedule an appointment with a staff member, visit Career Services online.

_____4. Consider how a minor or certificate program might enhance your educational experience and career preparation.

_____5. In the Spring, begin to develop ideas regarding summer jobs, internships or volunteer opportunities related to your career interest.

Personal Growth

_____1. Understand your financial aid package including the difference between different types of aid (grant, loan, scholarship, work study, etc.).

_____2. Estimate your monthly loan payment upon graduation in order to help make good financial decisions with the net price calculator here.

_____3. Reflect on your values and passion. What is your calling and purpose?

_____4. Create balance in your life and prioritize as needed in order to lead a healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition, sleep and exercise.

Community Involvement

_____1. Become an active member of a student organization. View a list of organizations with contact information here. You might consider an organization that enhances your major/career and one that interests you outside your career path.

_____2. Consider service opportunities within the community. For additional information you can contact Campus Ministry located on the first floor of Carondelet.

_____3. In the Spring, begin thinking about and preparing for where you will live your junior year.


Student success is the driving mission behind the Student Success Center and our services are available to all students. We work to help students make a successful transition into college, and continue to assist them throughout their college careers as they navigate the intellectual and social community of Avila University. We’re all here for you.

The Avila Promise

  • Lower Tuition Rate
  • Tuition Protection
  • 4-Year Graduation Guarantee
  • Internship or Research Guarantee
  • up to $1,000 Travel Award


That’s the Avila Promise.

Admission & Aid: SOAR

Graduating High School Seniors/Future Avila Eagles: Ready to enroll for fall? Its time to spread those wings and sign up for our Student Enrollment, Advising and Orientation Event (SOAR)!
> Sign up today!

Adult & Graduate Studies: Open House

adult and graduate studies

adult and graduate studies open house
March 22
4:30-6:30 p.m.
Whitfield Center
> Register now 



Career & Internship Fair

dear neighbor day

career & internship fair
Resume Building
Career Coaching
Free Professional Headshots

April 12
11-2 p.m. & 4-6 p.m. 
Athletic Pavilion
> Register now

AU News

Avila University - March Madness