Working Together to Create Belonging

NVC Leadership Message
Erin Sherman, NVC Vice President of College Services 

Belonging was the focus of our Employee Development Day (EDD) and continued focus on discussions, professional development, and actions.

We continue to engage our learning with openness, wonder, and care as we venture further into our understanding of what belonging means for our students. This journey introduced me to the work of Dr. Terrell Strayhorn, professor of Higher Education and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Illinois State University and director of the Ph.D. program in the Department of Educational Administration & Foundations (EAF).

Dr. Strayhorn is also the president/CEO of Do Good Work Educational Consulting Group and works with organizations on outcomes related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. In “College Students’ Sense of Belonging: A Key to Educational Success for All Students,” he defines a sense of belonging for college students as, “students’ perceived social support on campus, a feeling or sensation of connectedness, and the experience of mattering or feeling cared about, accepted, respected, valued by, and important to the campus community or others on campus such as faculty, staff, and peers” (Strayhorn, 2019, p. 4).

A sense of belonging supports students’ academic success, retention, and persistence, and a sense of belonging is developed through positive and frequent interaction that builds meaningful relationships affirming that truly seen for who they are and are cared about (Strayhorn, 2019).

The NVC 2018-2023 strategic plan includes that TOGETHER we create a culture of care, one of the components of belonging. How do we TOGETHER translate care into engagement and a sense of belonging for our students? Although the answer to this question is complex, our students are depending on us working TOGETHER to learn how we translate our care and demonstrate that they are accepted, respected, and valued.

Thank you to your continued dedication to our students, community, and one another.  

Strayhorn, T. L. (2019). College students’ sense of belonging: A key to educational success for all students (2nd ed.). Routledge.  




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