MINNEAPOLIS — A University of Minnesota data analyst tracks students' academic, civic and personal experiences to guide the school's leaders on where to direct services.
Krista Soria uses the Student Experience in the Research University survey to learn more about students' experiences, Minnesota Daily reported . The national survey has been administered at the university since 2010.
"I love to study college students and the things that help them to be successful because I was a (first-generation) student, and I sort of know firsthand the challenges of being the first person in my family to attend college," Soria said. "I really just ... unpack college experiences."
Soria compares the university's results to other schools to identify academic or campus climate issues.
Soria found starting in 2010 that students of color or conservative, underrepresented first-generation, low-income, non-heterosexual-identifying and non-cisgender students were struggling in the campus climate.
That discovery eventually led to the creation of the Campus Climate initiative, which aims to create an environment that's inclusive for all students.
"Some patterns emerge ... in data. Students don't know that we're making these connections, but when I put them together in the data, those connections emerge on their own. And it's sort of beautiful when that happens," Soria said.
She also works with campus departments and programs to address problem areas.
She recently helped the advising department making changes after an advising task force in 2015 found that students needed a better understanding of what the advising department has to offer, said LeeAnn Melin, associate vice provost for student success. The department increased access to advisers and helped increase students' knowledge of advising services.
"Doing the survey is one thing, and she puts her heart and soul into that ... but on the flip side, she is the champion of saying, 'Surveys don't matter unless we do something with them,'" Melin said.