Coming full circle with Student Success Programs

Early mentorship aids Tammie King-Kelly, director of TU’s Student Success Programs

By Kyle Hobstetter on March 21, 2023

Tammie King Kelly posing inside the University Union
Tammie King-Kelly has been with Student Success Programs since 2013, and was named director this past summer. (Lauren Castellana / Towson University) 

When she was hired as the new director for Student Success Programs (SSP) last summer, it was a full-circle moment for Tammie King-Kelly.

That’s because as an undergraduate mass communication student, it was SSP and then-director Raft Woodus that set her on the path to success.

During her freshman year, King-Kelly was struggling with adjusting to college life. It got to the point where one day, while sitting in the University Union, she couldn’t help but cry. 

“Raft didn’t know me from anything, but he brought me into his office and asked what’s going on,” King-Kelly remembers. “He got me back on the right track.”

After graduating, King-Kelly spent 15 years working in radio on the promotions and marketing side.  

But when the chance came to join Woodus as the coordinator for SSP’s Students Achieve Goals through Education (SAGE) peer-mentoring program, she jumped at the opportunity to work with the person who influenced her so much.

“Raft is so selfless and committed 41 years of his life to helping students,” King-Kelly says. “Learning under him helped me see the importance of the work we do. It was an honor to have him as a mentor, and it’s an honor to expand his vision.”

Joining SSP’s staff was such a big moment in her life, King-Kelly knows the exact date she started: Sept. 25, 2013. And since returning to TU, she has helped hundreds of students.

She likes to joke she and her team wear many different hats, from financial aid and advising to counseling and academic support.

Another fact King-Kelly likes to point out is the success of those involved with SSP: students who are double-majors, are the first in their family to graduate college, or to have careers in law, medicine and Fortune 500 companies.  

“And they all stay in touch with us,” King-Kelly says. “When I started at TU, I asked what I wanted my legacy to be. And the more I worked with these students, my end goal was to see them progress and do great things once they graduate.”

Tammie King Kelly speaking with students
Tammie King-Kelly speaking with student mentors in the SAGE program. Tammie can usually be found meeting with students and working with SAGE students and mentors. (Lauren Castellana / Towson University) 

In the last 10 years, SAGE has grown from 25 student mentors to 84 and added a residential component as part of Housing & Residence Life’s Living Learning Communities.

King-Kelly and SSP have created additional programs to help students, and potential students, get prepared for college.

  • College Readiness Outreach Program (CROP) — This is a program that connects students from Baltimore City public high schools with TU students who serve as mentors, for a series of college readiness workshops.
  • Man 2 Man — This program provides a space in which men of color can support each other.
  • Generation One — This program provides space for first-generation students to network, share experiences and become more engaged with the TU community.
  • HER (Honesty. Encouragement. Respect.) — HER is a space for women of color to come together and have genuine conversations about all things related to womanhood. Everyone is encouraged to be their authentic self,  be honest while respecting each other and themselves. Students, faculty and staff are welcomed and any meeting can be someone’s first meeting. HER meets bi-weekly on Mondays at 5 p.m. in University Union Room 343. The next meeting is Monday, March 27. 

“She’s very student-focused and -oriented. It’s her No. 1 priority,” says Alexia Crawley, SAGE coordinator. “Tammie has such an authentic love for people and students. You can’t fake that. Tammie loves the students, and students love Tammie.”

Tammie King Kelly posing with SAGE mentors
When King-Kelly started with Student Success Programs, SAGE only had 25 mentors. They are now up to 84 student peer mentors. (Lauren Castellana / Towson University) 

A student’s view on Tammie

Tammie King-Kelly with SAGE Mentor Bryson Whittington
Tammie King Kelly and Bryson Whittington

Ms. Tammie has helped me so much, and the support I receive from her only grows. From being a mentor on the floor to an undergraduate assistant in SAGE, I wouldn’t be able to step into these positions of leadership if she had not seen something in me I couldn’t have seen myself. Knowing someone believes in you as much as Ms. Tammie believes in all her students is enough motivation to make me want to continue to become a better student, leader and person.  

Ms. Tammie, I would like you to know you are doing an amazing job. I’m genuinely proud of how you uplift and have such a huge impact on others’ lives even after Towson. You are inspiring to me, and I am happy to call you my supervisor, my mentor and my friend! Love you, Ms. Tammie!  

— Bryson Whittington, SAGE Mentor