Student Success

The Office of Student Success is here to help you on your journey through college. We believe you have the ability to succeed. We want to help you succeed. But, what do you want? We realize that for many students, the road to college success can sometimes be challenging, with a variety of academic and non-academic obstacles.

A key to success is identifying strategies for overcoming the obstacles that stand in your way. What is keeping you from success at Milligan? What options do you have? What resources might help you in your quest?

Academic ability or skills?

Are you struggling academically? If so, the likely cause is related either to ability or background in your chosen field of study, study and/or testing skills needed to succeed, or effort. Try these resources:

  • Talk to your professor.
    • As soon as you start feeling overwhelmed in a class, ask your professor for an appointment or visit your professor’s office during office hours.
    • A WORD TO THE WISE: Don’t wait until the day before a test or paper is due to say that you’re struggling. Stay in contact with the professor regularly.
  • Visit our Peer Tutors—free of charge.
    • These students have been in your shoes, quite literally, as they have completed the same courses you are taking. They will help you identify strategies for engaging the classroom materials.
  • Visit your Academic Advisor or Mentor.
    • These faculty and staff members are eager to see you succeed in school, and will provide you with good advice about how to pursue that success.
  • Participate in a study group.
    • You’ll find that your classmates have a lot of information to contribute, so find 1-2 students and set up a regular study time for your class.
    • A WORD TO THE WISE: Find students who perform better in the class than you do. They’ll have the knowledge to help boost your performance a level.

Time management skills?

Many students have a difficult time adjusting to the lack of imposed structure at college.

  • How much should I study?
    • A lot of students study for an hour per class per week and think that should be enough to pass the class. Unfortunately, college studies take a lot more work.
    • RULE OF THUMB: You should expect to put in about two hours per week outside of class for every hour you spend in class. So, if you’re enrolled in 15 hours of coursework, you should expect to spend about 30 hours per week studying outside of class.
  • How do I quit wasting my time?
    • Don’t worry, that’s a common question. Open our time management worksheet and fill in the following information:
      • Class times
      • Meal times
      • Practice times (athletic, theatre, music, etc.)
      • Scheduled study times—you get to choose the times. Just make sure you put in at least one, preferably two, hours per class meeting.
      • Make sure to schedule in some play time, too!
    • Have your mentor or advisor review your scheduler to make sure it seems reasonable.
  • How do I manage all my assignments?
    • There are a few methods for managing assignments—you’ll want to find the one that works best for you
      • Assignment worksheet. Use one worksheet per week and list all reading assignments, homework assignments, scheduled quizzes, projects, etc. If you have a big project or paper looming ahead, assign yourself small portions of the project each week in order to be prepared on the due date.
      • Organizer. You can purchase a calendar/organizer from the MC bookstore, office supplies stores, or general retail stores. Again, list all due dates.
      • Revise due dates. As professors make changes to assignments, list those changes on your organizer.
      • Success. The best part—scratch through assignments as you finish them! You’ll have a visible indicator that you’ve accomplished something and it will give you motivation to continue with the next project.
    • Talk to your advisor or mentor to make sure your system seems workable. He or she may have additional suggestions for you.

Study skills and testing anxiety?

Do you lack testing or study skills? Try a few of these options:

  • How do you learn? Different students have different learning styles.
    • Consider the times when you’ve earned good grades or studied in helpful ways. Replicate those study situations.
    • Consider the space where you study. Is there too much distraction? Try a carrel on the second floor of the library. Is it too quiet? Try a group table in the library, SUB7, or the Grill. You can also reserve a study room in the library by clicking here.
    • Treat yourself! Give yourself a goal to accomplish (“I’ll read for 30 minutes”), then give yourself a small treat—perhaps a walk around campus, a (SHORT) visit to a friend’s room, or a snack. Then start the process again!
    • Make an appointment with Heather Jackson to discuss the best learning strategies for you.
  • Have Difficulty Taking Tests?
    • Do you know the material leading up to the exam, then blank when you sit down to take it? This is not uncommon. Talk with your mentor, advisor, or Heather Jackson to discuss test taking strategies. The Counseling Center is also a great resource for help with test anxiety.

Health or emotional concerns?

Can personal problems stand in the way of success? Of course. It happens all the time. Has it happened to you?

Illness or Injury

If your problems result from physical illness or injury, they may solve themselves as you return to health. However illness and injury can take quite a bite out of a semester. Have they caused you to miss too many classes and/or be unable to study? How should you handle this? Withdrawing from one or more courses might be your best option. Talk with your instructors. Explain your problem and ask where you stand. Do they think you can catch up? If so, what is involved? Are extra credit opportunities available? Should you consider a grade of Incomplete that you can make up later? Talk with your academic advisor and get his/her ideas as well. What classes are more important for you to finish now and which ones can wait? You should also contact Heather Jackson for assistance in communicating with your professors and to discuss any possible temporary accommodations.

Emotional Difficulties

It is not at all unusual for students to encounter a variety of emotional difficulties while adjusting to college life. In fact, we’d consider it unusual for you to encounter absolutely NO difficulties. And yes, we’re speaking to men and women alike. So, here are a few thoughts for consideration.

  • Talk with a trusted friend, mentor, Resident Assistant, or professor. The Milligan Community is filled with people to support you through the ups and downs of life.
  • Depression or other emotional problems: Milligan offers counseling resources for our students. For more information on the Milligan College Counseling Center, please click here.

Residence life or roommate issues?

  • Roommate problems: Many students arrive at campus having never shared a room with a sibling, so adjusting to a shared room can be very interesting, to say the least. Here are some helpful hints:
    • Know your Resident Assistant: RAs are great resources when you’re having roommate difficulties. They’ve been trained to help you negotiate sticky situations, so take advantage of their expertise.
    • Keep the Lines of Communication Open: Keep talking with your roommate, both about difficulties in the room AND other daily occurrences in life. The moment you stop talking is the moment that you grant yourself permission to consider the other person less than a friend.
    • Talk to your Mentor: Your mentors have experienced the joys and pains of roommates—they’ll have great advice for you.
    • Visit your Resident Director: Their doors are always open.
    • Know that the end is in sight: Students are able to change roommates at the end of each semester if the situation warrants a change.
  • Nothing to Do: Now, some of us had parents that would offer to find something for us to do when we were bored—usually it entailed housework! But don’t worry, we can help you find some other options.
    • Go to Milligan Today to see what’s going on around campus and the community!
    • Visit our campus activities page to find out about campus organizations. Then go to a meeting and see what’s going on!
    • Talk with your RA to see what residence hall activities are currently taking place.
    • Go to sports events and cheer on our Buffaloes!
    • Check out the service opportunities both on and off campus—contact the LINC office.
    • Get involved in Milligan Arts opportunities—theatre, musical ensembles, and more.
    • Find a shadowing opportunity to find out more about your field of choice. Visit the Career Development Office in the Institute for Servant Leadership.

Financial concerns?

If you’re having a hard time dealing with your financial responsibilities, schedule an appointment with your financial aid counselor. They may be able to help you.


Survival Tips for Success

  1. Make time management a priority
  2. Obtain, read, and refer to college Catalog.
  3. Be responsible for individual academic performance.
  4. Know where to get help (Hint: The Student Success Office)
  5. Build a support system away from home.
  6. Get to know administrators, faculty, and staff beyond the classroom.
  7. Apply for financial aid early and let it be an ongoing process until graduation.
  8. Establish boundaries with roommates.
  9. Get “connected” early. Get involved in extra-curricular activites, but know your limit.
  10. Use good judgment and have fun in college.

Student Success offerings are available to all undergraduate and graduate students. Please contact Heather Jackson to schedule an appointment.


The faculty and student relationships at Milligan are one of the college’s greatest resources for students. Our faculty are wholeheartedly committed to the development of our students—both in and out of class. Each year, we have a group of faculty and staff who commit to serving as mentors to entering students. These mentors are available for any questions students may have—please take advantage of their expertise!

At Milligan, you will be paired with a faculty or staff mentor, based on your academic interest. If you haven’t decided on a major yet, your mentor will help guide you through the core curriculum and career assessments to help you discern God’s call.

In addition to meeting regularly with your mentor on campus, mentors frequently have students over for dinner, games, movies, Bible studies, and often worship together. Your mentor will help you successfully navigate through your first year as a college student. From there, you will be ready to work closely with an academic advisor in your major, who will lead you through to your graduation.

 Meet the Mentors

Abner, JP 2011

Dr. John Paul Abner

Dr. Abner received his PhD from the University of Florida in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. He co-mentors with his wife, Pam, and they have 3 kids, a horse, a pony, a dog, and a cat and lots of animal hair on all of their belongings. When he isn’t at Milligan, he works as one of 18 certified Parent Child Interaction Therapy Master Trainers in the world and he travels across the nation training therapists in PCIT.  He also consults with the East Tennessee Center of Excellence for Children in State custody where he is trying to help improve services to foster children by training area therapists in evidenced based interventions. He is an avid hiker, volleyball, and basketball player.

Alice Anthony

Originally from Memphis, Professor Alice Anthony completed her master of fine arts in photography at East Tennessee State University and has been teaching at Milligan since the fall of 1991. Alice has exhibited her photographs in over 20 states and was chosen to be a part of Reunion: an invitational exhibit of 100 art alumni as a part of the celebration of ETSU’s 100th anniversary. She and her husband Steve enjoy traveling and have visited many interesting places such as the Holy Land, British Isles, and St. Petersburg, Russia. Working with and mentoring students has been one of the greatest joys of her life.

Dr. Carolyn Carter

Dr. Carolyn Carter has spent over 30 years at Milligan College teaching in the area of Computer Information Systems and Computer Science. She finds teaching as enjoyable today as when she started. She is married to Milton Carter, who is the Site Coordinator and Community Outreach representative for Milligan’s Kingsport, TN location. Dr. Carter and her husband like to travel and have a spoiled Cocker Spaniel and a chunky Chihuahua.


Dr.Brian Eisenback

Dr. Eisenback is an Associate Professor of Biology here at Milligan. He and his wife, Ashley, have two daughters and a house full of animals including two dogs, three cats, three fish, and a turtle.

Theresa Garbe

Ms. Garbe received a BA from Milligan in communications and humanities and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Emmanuel Christian Seminary. She has served as Milligan’s director of alumni relations since 1998 and teaches one section of Bible each semester. She is married to a wonderful man, also a Milligan grad, and is blessed with three active kids. When she isn’t at a meet or picking someone up from a rehearsal or lesson, she enjoys cooking, digging in the dirt and eating good chocolate—which you can always find in her office.

Dr. Jeff Giesey

Giesey is brand new at Milligan after having spent 29 years at Ohio University most recently in the position of Associate Dean for Academics in the Russ College of Engineering and Technology. He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Michigan. His areas of interest include energy systems, biomedical applications, and engineering education. Since he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 2002 to help the Polytechnic of Namibia start their Bachelors Program in Electrical Engineering, he has been focused particularly on engineering practices in the context of developing countries.

He and his wife Eve have four grown children scattered between Wisconsin and Tanzania. They are active in the College Age and Missions ministries at First Christian Church in Johnson City.

Besides figuring out how to solve problems and being around students, he is most happy when he is traveling, playing (winning) board games, or running (slowly) on the Tweetsie Trail.

Harrell, Greg

Dr. Greg Harrell

Dr. Harrell is the Director of the Milligan College Engineering Programs, the Chair of the Area of Engineering, and an Associate Professor of Engineering. He enjoys exploring the Great Smoky Mountains and navigating off-trail with a map and compass searching for unmarked waterfalls, climbing rock faces, distant peaks, and ice falls.

Heather Jackson

 Heather Jackson has been serving in the role of Director of Student Success and Disability Services for 4 years and has been working at Milligan for a total of 6 years. She graduated from Milligan in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and again in 2017 with her MBA. She also received a Master of Arts in Counseling degree from ETSU in 2013.
She is married to Michael Jackson (no, not THAT Michael Jackson) and they live in Elizabethton with their two dogs. Heather is an avid, though disheartened, Cincinnati Reds fan and enjoys watching sports, hanging out with friends, and getting to know and work with the awesome students here at Milligan.

John Jackson

Dr. John Jackson and Mary Jackson

John and Mary Jackson met in high school band in Phoenix, Arizona. They moved across the United States pursuing ministry and educational opportunities, before settling in east Tennessee.

John received a PhD in Old Testament from Duke University. He will be for the first time, since coming to Milligan in 2005, not teaching freshmen Humanities in the Fall, but will be teaching all Bible courses, including Old and New Testament Survey and co-teaching “Religion and the Movies.”

Mary serves as Milligan’s research and instruction librarian (students will all get to know her in their composition courses) and is renowned for her baked goods, of which their students are the beneficiaries.

The Jacksons share a love of cooking and travel.

Dr. Lori Mills, professor of psychology at MilliganDR. Lori Mills

Mills graduated from Milligan with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, and got her Master’s degree and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Louisville.

She has been at Milligan for 24 years. Dr. Mills is a licensed clinical psychologist and provides psychotherapy in addition to teaching.

She has been married to her husband, Cort, for 22 years. They have three sons, Gibson, Cooper, and Camden.

Mills loves sports of all kinds, as well as reading and hiking.


Dr. Trini Rangel

Dr. Rangel and his wife, Barb, recently celebrated 25 years of marriage. They have four children, including two daughters who are currently attending Milligan. Most of the last few years have been spent focusing on work for his PhD in Health Psychology, which he recently completed.

Carrie Swanay

Dr. Carrie Swanay

Graduating from East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor’s in Communications/Broadcasting, and again from ETSU with a Master’s in Instructional Technology, and finally from Virginia Tech with a PhD in Instructional Technology with an emphasis in Digital media. She has been with Milligan for over 20 years.

Dr. Swanay loves working with all aspects of multimedia development and design, video production and editing. She serves as the chair for the area of performing, visual and communicative arts. She has been serving as a mentor for the past 10 years.

She has two rescued pugs (Eleanor and BB).

Dr. Ted Thomas

Professor Ted Thomas teaches German, Sophomore Humanities and European History. After undergraduate work at Pepperdine University in Southern California, and Heidelberg, Germany, he received his PhD from the University of Maryland.

As well as his teaching responsibilities, Dr. Thomas enjoys sponsoring Milligan College’s Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society, and leading Humanities Tours (2003, 2007, 2012). Dr. Thomas is also the man behind “Today in Milligan History.”

He and his wonderful wife Jane-Anne enjoy singing, entertaining students in their home, “working out” in the Wellness Center, and Barnes & Noble dates.

Heather Vaccaro

Heather Vaccaro

Heather Vaccaro is currently an Instructor of Business here at Milligan. Prior to serving as a faculty member, she spent two years working in Admissions as a recruiter. She is no stranger to the process being undertaken by new students.

When she isn’t teaching or completing coursework for her doctorate, you can find her at home working on various projects, adventuring outdoors with her dog, or participating in marathons. Netflix marathons, that is.

Brad Wallace

As Campus Minister, Brad coordinates Milligan’s Spiritual Formation Program, putting together chapel services and working with student groups like FCA, Vespers, and the Apostolos Missions Club.

He and his wife, Chris, have three kids, and on an extremely rare unoccupied afternoon you’re likely to find Brad up a mountain creek, trout fishing.

Whitney, Michael

Dr. Michael Whitney

Professor Whitney hails from New Hampshire, and he completed his undergraduate degree in biochemistry at Messiah College. He continued his education by earning a PhD in genetics from Penn State. Milligan was very pleased to welcome Dr. Whitney to campus in the Fall of 2008. He and his wife Keli, have four sons.

When he’s not in the classroom or with his family, you’ll find Dr. Whitney playing guitar, sports and video games.

Tutoring Schedule

Spring 2019 Tutoring Schedule

Tutoring for the Spring 2019 semester has ended. The Fall 2019 Tutoring Schedule will be posted in late August.


Heather Jackson

Heather Jackson

Director of Student Success and Disability Services

Phone: 423.794.3088
Contact via email
Office: McMahan Student Center