Luisaura Fox has a long-standing history with Hodges University, and as manager of English as a Second Language (ESL) Student Services in Fort Myers, she sees herself in many of the students seeking her assistance. Whether it is legal paperwork, a fear of going to college or difficulties in transitioning to the United States, Fox works with each student to ensure he/she is successful in Hodges’ ESL program.
“The first question I ask when meeting with a student is, ‘Why do you want to learn English?’” she said. Working with students who are non-native English speakers, Fox witnesses the fear many possess when enrolling in the program. Whether it is to learn the language to better converse with their child’s teacher or to seek better job opportunities, she reminds them of their purpose in being at Hodges.
“I know what it is like to sit on the other side of the table,” she said. “When I visited Hodges, my husband and I sat down with an admissions coordinator and my husband translated everything to me.”
Moving to the United States from Venezuela in 2006, Fox received a personalized letter from Hodges University (formerly known as International College) inviting her to enroll in the ESL program. “I received that letter only one week after moving to Pine Island,” she said.
Enrolling in the ESL program in fall 2007, she admittedly wanted to learn the language so she, too, could converse with her daughter’s teachers; however, her professors inquired about her future aspirations, which led her to become a degree-seeking student.
Interested in the field of law, Fox went on to earn an associate degree in paralegal studies in 2010 and a bachelor’s degree in legal studies in 2013, saying, “I’ve always had a passion for the law. I’ve always felt that learning the law will give me the correct information to be a better citizen.”
Prior to starting her bachelor’s degree program, Fox sought available positions at the university; a step that would put her on the path to giving back and helping students looking for an opportunity to excel in the United States.
From a bilingual enrollment coordinator to admissions coordinator to her current position as manager of ESL Student Services, she continually strives to learn more and find better ways to assist her students.
“In the admissions office and in my position, we’re viewed as the front line of the university. We’re seen as the experts to students who come in with questions. Our responses need to align with those of the professors, department chairs, deans, administration and marketing. Clear communication is key to ensuring a student has a valuable experience,” she explained.
Working closely with her co-partner, Nelida Rojas, in Naples, Fox works with financial aid, the registrar’s office and the entire student services unit to make sure Hodges’ ESL students are properly taken care of throughout the duration of their program.
With students ranging from Level I to Level III in the ESL program, Fox often visits students who are enrolled in Level III to discuss the university’s Intensive English Program Bridge (IEP) and its benefits. Evaluating the needs and concerns of the students, Fox uses the information to establish a continuous line of communication with students to help them further their educational goals.
“When we’re talking about a student pursuing a degree, the professor has to be evaluating the student every step of the journey and stay on the student’s side, making the student understand why the next step is so important. If that bridge isn’t built throughout the journey or in the student’s mind, the student will never get there,” she said.
This continued reminder to push further is one Fox is often reminded of each day as a current student at Hodges. Pursuing a master’s degree in legal studies, there are often days when she admits to wanting to throw in the towel; however, the continued ability to learn and meet the challenges put forth by her professors are what keep her going.
“Hodges is my family. It has been from the moment I enrolled, and when I help students enroll and begin their journeys, I look at them and say, ‘Welcome! You’re now a part of the Hodges family.’”