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Chris Grant Wants All Students to Feel Like They Belong

Chris Grant in red sweater
Christopher Grant is the new Director of Student Success, Access, and Belonging. Courtesy photo

Long-time staff member Christopher Grant has taken a new role as Director of Student Success, Access, and Belonging, where he’ll help students to feel fully a part of the Emerson community, no matter their individual circumstances.

Grant said he’s looking forward to helping the College as it creates more frequent opportunities for students to be heard and supported through community-building and mentorship, as well as what he hopes he can be to students. 

“Someone that you can talk to, someone that you can lean on… the hope is that through talk, through any particular situation, that we can work through a solution,” Grant said. “I try to recognize and validate a current student’s experience, and then through that, try to work on the solution as well so that a student doesn’t feel like they’re stuck.”

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Grant joined Emerson 14 years ago, as an associate director of undergraduate admissions for multicultural recruitment. Five years ago, the position transitioned into the Office of Student Success. In his new role as director, he said there comes a new level of leadership.

“Being a director, of course, comes with a lot of responsibility, but it also comes with a lot of potential. … [To] be able to continue to work with students that I absolutely adore for who [they] all are and mean to me, to the College, it means a lot,” Grant said. 

Grant had a hand in creating and managing programs such as EmersonWrites and EmersonTheatre, programs in which students from Boston Public Schools are able to build their craft and creativity while also opening a potential gateway for students to attend Emerson.

As these programs moved into the Office of Student Success, so did Grant. He became more involved within the office, where he and his team worked on sustaining and improving the resources they had available to help Emerson students.

“Everything that we do within Student Success, in addition to advising and counseling that we do in this office, is making sure that we’re an accessible institution,” said Grant.

The Office of Student Success aims to help students navigate the stressors of college, whether social, academic, or even personal challenges, through applicable solutions. 

Some of the resources that Grant was able to help with throughout his time in Student Success was the Student Assistance Fund (SAF), which makes small awards to help eligible students with indirect costs of attendance such as books, printing and copying costs, required course supplies, personal items, transportation, and food. OSS also manages the student food pantry and other food access initiatives; the first generation and low-income program (FLI) program; Emersion: Foundations of Success, a one-credit, non-tuition course to help new students transition to Emerson; Emerson’s Concern Center; helping students with leaving and returning to Emerson; a financial literacy program called Money Matters; and one-on-one counseling.

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Part of Grant’s new mission is also to help students access resources and to make them feel a sense of belonging, no matter how they got to Emerson or how they get through Emerson, because of how much they have already invested in the College.

“Emerson has changed over … even the time I’ve been here … and that means we need to change along with the students that are coming to Emerson,” Grant said. “Based [on] the things that you need to be a better human, a better artist, a better communicator, how can we implement the best things here at Emerson to suggest you to getting the most out of this institution?”

The creation of a Director of Student Success, Access, and Belonging complements Emerson’s Community Equity Action Plan, a series of concrete steps toward equity and anti-racism that the College has committed to take following the November 2020 ESOC Week of Action and student demands.

Grant credits his team, the Registar, Intercultural Student Affairs, organizations like Power, Flawless Brown, and the students, themselves, with growing the office and the mission of Student Success, and for supporting Grant personally.

With these three elements of Grant’s new title — Student Success, Access and Belonging – Grant wants to let students know that they are not limited as to opportunities and resources. 

“You come to this institution, not just to experience it on the peripheral, but really be immersed in it in what Emerson has to offer, and that shouldn’t be dictated by your profile… As Emerson, we should try to make sure that we’re opening as many doors as possible and you feel as if you’ve got access to things that are here,” said Grant.   

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