Washburn University Success Coaching guides, motivates, and supports underrepresented students at Washburn University by eliminating barriers to success and cultivating student strengths.

How do I sign up?

Complete an online application for Washburn University Success Coaching.

Contact Dr. Valerie M. Mendoza by email at valerie.mendoza@washburn.edu or by phone at 785-670-3216.

Refer a student to Success Coaching

If you know of a student who would benefit from Washburn University Success Coaching, please submit a referral. A success coach will reach out to the student.

girl sitting at desk with students

Success Coaches

Our goal is to prepare students to thrive in their personal, civic, and professional lives. Success coaches offer one-on-one coaching to students seeking guidance in their academic pursuits throughout their undergraduate experience by...

  • Meeting with students at multiple points throughout each semester
  • Assessing individual strengths and needs
  • Devising personalized plans of action that can facilitate student success

Shanise Brooks, Student Success Coach

I’m originally from Topeka and graduated from Highland Park. When I started college had no idea what I wanted to study. I immediately felt overwhelmed by the mental and physical strains of playing college basketball and intimidated by my professors and fellow peers. I went through a major case of imposter syndrome.  After some self- reflection, I discovered that I enjoyed learning about the human body and health. I decided to major in biology earn and keep a starting spot on the basketball team. I made up in my mind that if there were people smarter, faster, strong it didn’t matter. I was going to outwork them! I graduated with honors and became a starter for a D1 program. I lead my team in rebounds, blocks and points at both the junior college and D1 level. I’m here to tell you that you can do anything as long as you are willing to put in the work.

My advice for college success:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Do something every day that reduces stress
  • Always show up to class early


Verlisa Cradle, Student Success Coach

I’m a sunflower girl born and raises in Topeka, Ks and graduated from Highland Park. I had the pleasure of starting my college journey while still in high school and participating in Upward Bounds Math and Science Trio program at Kansas State University. I attended K-State for three years before returning to Washburn University in order to be closer to my family. I started my journey as a nursing major working at Stormont-Vail and Lexington Park for four years and decided to change my major to Integrated Studies with a certification in Child Life Specialist and minor in Leadership my Junior year. I started to realize maybe nursing wasn’t for me but I still loved the medical field. Transitioning into Child Life Specialist because I loved having time to get to know my patients rather than just doing routine checkups and distributing medication. As I continue through life as a growing professional and learn more about myself and the things I like I plan to apply for graduate school in the fall of 2020.

My advice for college success: each semester step back and reassess to ensure you’re not just going through the motion of college but enjoying it.

(785) 670-2182

Yalitza Gonzalez, Student Success Coach

I was born in Dodge City, Kansas but raised in Topeka. I graduated from Topeka High School in 2014, and got my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Washburn University in 2019. I am a bilingual, first-generation student. I was a full-time mom and wife during my entire college career. It was very challenging, but I knew I had to finish school to prove to myself that I could do it. Originally, I wanted to major in Elementary Education, but explored my options a little more and fell in love with Social Work. It had much more to offer and aligned better with my values. During my time at Washburn, I joined Hispanic American Leadership Organization (HALO) and Washburn Student Social Work Association (WSSWA). Eventually, I became vice-president for both and I am so happy that I did because I made lots of lifelong friends and connections.

My advice for college success: find your people on campus, use your planner every day, ask questions, and take advantage of resources!

(785) 670-2180

Adam Hampton, Student Success Coach

Throughout my K-12 education, I never felt like I had found a subject that truly resonated with me – one that was both personally interesting and that I excelled in. I entered community college with 0 clues related to what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, so I decided to dabble in topics I had never gotten the chance to explore – graphic design, philosophy, religious studies. When I took my first Psychology class, it was as if a switch had been flipped in my mind; I’d finally found a topic that fell right in line with what I inherently understood but failed to previously consider – human thought and behavior. I went full throttle from this point, transferring to Illinois State University where I was exposed to practice in the research and teaching of Psychology. Beyond my own enjoyment of learning these topics, I found fulfillment in getting to teach others how to examine their own lives and the lives of those close to them through the lens of psychological processes. With this passion for teaching and advising uncovered, I continued my education through graduate school, where I earned my master’s degree in social and developmental psychology. My education serves as the foundation of my advising relationships, taking any opportunity I can to use the lessons I’ve learned to help students improve their lives, inside the classroom and out. 

My advice for college success: take time in your first 2 years to explore all the things you’ve never had a chance to – you may just find a calling you had never considered 

(785) 670-1221

Valerie Mendoza, Director

I’m originally from Topeka and graduated from Shawnee Heights. I first majored in engineering when I went to college because I thought that I could get a good paying job easily and figured my parents would approve. When I started flunking chemistry my sophomore year I finally admitted to myself that I didn’t enjoy the sciences and was miserable as an engineering student. I thought about my favorite classes in high school and realized that they were in history. I switched majors, my grades improved, and I was much happier. I did well enough to be admitted into graduate school and now have a Ph.D. I’m here to tell you that yes, you can find a job with a history (or humanities or arts) major.

My advice for college success: follow your passion.


How often do I meet with my Success Coach?

Appointments are tailored to suit your needs. Success Coach meetings are anywhere from every week to once a month.

When is Success Coaching available to me?

Appointments are scheduled Monday-Friday from 8:30-4:30.

How do I schedule an appointment?

Schedule an appointment with your coach through Navigate.

Where do I go for my appointment?

Success Coaches are located in Mabee Library room 201. Or we can meet with you virtually through video calling.

How long will I receive coaching?

Success Coaches work with you until you graduate.

The Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant expands Washburn’s capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to improve and strengthen our academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability. We do this by partnering with multiple programs throughout the university including Washburn University Success Coaching, the Center for Teaching Engagement and Learning, and the Math lab in Mabee library.

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