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When Patrice Cizmar graduated with her law degree from Rutgers University, she hit the ground running, serving as a NJ Superior Court law clerk and legal researcher. Over the years, Patrice has operated her own law practice, served as an Equal Housing Opportunity advocate, facilitated bankruptcy workshops through Northeast Ohio Legal Services, and taught law.
After years as a legal studies professor, legal studies department head and campus president, Patrice says she gravitated to a place and a position she loves: working one-on-one with students to help them succeed. Since 2010, she’s been with Argosy University helping students navigate the admissions process and launch—or relaunch—their college careers.
“I’m one of those lucky people who love what I do,” says Patrice. “My job is to guide students through the matriculation process—and succeeding academically once they’re here. I am a mentor, a coach, an advocate, and a guide. I’m a counselor, a cheerleader, and a sounding board. My goal is to make sure incoming Argosy students have a great experience throughout the enrollment process and throughout their enrollment at AUO. I assist them with financial aid applications and answer whatever questions they have along the way. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll track it down.”
Patrice is currently focused on advising and enrolling students in Argosy’s new Master of Law in Compliance program . It’s an online program designed to teach non-lawyer professionals to manage and minimize legal risk for employers and clients in the health care field. She says her job isn’t only to enroll new students, but also to help ensure that those who are accepted to Argosy are academically successful and have support through to graduation.
Patrice says she’s passionate about helping students take their next steps and knows the journey isn’t always easy. Many Argosy students return to college after years in the workforce. She says three obstacles often stand in the way of pursuing a degree: time, financing, and fear.
“All three of those obstacles are legitimate,” she says. “I assist students with time management, applying for aid, and building confidence. I think fear is often rooted in a lack of self-confidence, and my experience is that confidence can be developed and nurtured through preparation. Going to college can be challenging. If it weren’t, everyone would do it.”
Patrice says she admires students who face their fears and do it anyway.
“As a mother of a special needs child, I know that life isn’t always easy,” she says. “That’s why I love the opportunity to encourage and empower students to take their best shot and go for it. I’ve worked with students who have never had their own email address, but who made the commitment to enroll for an online degree and trusted we would figure it out together. Some students I work with are returning to college 30 years after graduating high school. That takes guts—and I admire it.”
“Many years ago, Theodore Roosevelt observed that ‘nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care,’” she says. “It’s really true. The trust and connection I develop with my students is the foundation on which everything else is built. Students know I care, and just having someone in their corner who believes in them can make all the difference.”