Imagine confidently walking across stage after four years of undergraduate study. You, along with your parents, friends, family and loved ones are all excited.  But the moment of bliss turns to sorrow as you discover your degree cannot be released because you are a few classes short.

After much contemplation, you decide to take break. Several breaks later, you receive a call or maybe even a Facebook message from Sophia Ellis or Stephanie Cramer, who are both retention and advising liaisons in the Office of Academic Support. Ellis and Cramer help students get back on track toward graduation at Kentucky State University (KSU).

The liaisons welcomed several students to a special meet and greet mixer on Thursday, July 28.

Meet & Greet

Dr. Stephanie Cramer, from left, Patrick Littlejohn, DeNisha Taylor, Sophia Ellis attend the Retention and Advising Meet & Greet mixer.

DeNisha Taylor was among the students who were recognized during the mixer. Taylor,  a former mass communications student from Cincinnati, was a candidate for May graduation in 2011. Days before graduation, she was informed that she would have to retake a class. After some time off, she decided to re-enroll this summer.

“When I submitted my final assignment to complete my degree, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders,” Taylor said.

KSU senior Patrick Littlejohn also was recognized at the event. The Louisville native was originally a criminal justice major but switched to liberal studies.

“It feels good. I thought I was never going to get to this point,” he said. “I have the majority of my coursework in criminal justice, but I had to move things around a little bit to graduate.”

Littlejohn plans to return to school in hopes of receiving his master’s in social work.

“I really want to work with juveniles like parole and probation. Or even a counselor maybe,” he said.

Although these are new roles at the University, Cramer and Ellis have already helped 10 students complete their outstanding degree requirements in May and during the summer. Ellis said they are currently working with several students and searching to find others who are only a few hours short. Ellis admits that it can be difficult to contact some students.

“(Phone) numbers change and people move so we were just trying to connect the pieces,” Ellis said.

The counselors reached out to former students who had anywhere from 90 to over 120 credit hours to see if they were interested in finishing their remaining courses.

“Patrick Littlejohn is one of the students that finished. He took a class somewhere else and just hadn’t transferred it back here . . . You have to transfer the credits,” Ellis said.

The retention and advising liaisons provide several ways to get students to finish their degrees including re-enrolling in regular classes, online classes, developing a credit-for-life experience portfolio and completing the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exam.

“We have a project graduate student who is now in the process of taking one math class to satisfy a liberal studies degree, and she was here in the late ‘70s,” said Ellis. “Upon completion of the math class, she will be able to graduate.”

Ellis stressed the importance of completing a college degree for personal and professional advancement.

For more information about opportunities to finish remaining degree requirements, contact Sophia Ellis at (502) 597-6463, or Stephanie Cramer at (502) 597-6936,

Story written by Kentucky State University student LaTasia Jones