Driven To Succeed: Gavin Stockton

Laura Fuchs, Student Support Specialist

“It’s not really a sprint to get a good GPA throughout college, it’s a marathon. I think SALT understands that more than any student coming into it.”

Over the summer, as the stock market was tumbling, Gavin Stockton was also taking the plunge into the real-time world of finance through his participation in a Summer Wall Street Scholars internship at Barclays Bank in New York City. It was the culmination of three years of hard work at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management. He credits the SALT Center with offering him the opportunity to gain the interpersonal and academic skills needed to work closely in this highly competitive field. Gavin said his interactions with specialists and tutors were a catalyst to initiating “a lot of confidence on the grade perspective, which then gave me confidence through the other facets of my life.”

Natalie Schleining, Gavin’s initial Student Support Specialist, described him as “exuberant,” yet possessing “a great balance of being here and wanting to take advantage of his college years and having fun, but at the same time knowing, ‘Okay, I’ve got to back off on this so that the real priority of why I’m here gets the attention it deserves.’” He took a hiatus from fraternity life this year to concentrate on academics, rising at 5 a.m. to take part in dozens of interviews with East Coast based companies to ultimately be rewarded with this highly coveted spot. “It’s kind of like rushing a fraternity here just with a salary on the line,” Gavin said.

He had to work harder, especially with a learning challenge. “That initial help from the SALT Center was definitely what kind of pushed me towards the higher GPA range, especially not being the best student in high school,” Gavin said.

Through conversations with Schleining, Gavin came to realize at the start of his freshman year in the fall of 2019, that he was one of nearly 50,000 students and that other students had similar goals. Schleining noted, “I was struck by one of our first interactions. I asked him what his goal was for this semester, and he said, ‘I want to get a 3.75.’” After exceeding that goal, Schleining affirmed to Gavin that his achievement was “a testament to speaking your goals out loud into the universe.”

In the Fall of 2019, as Gavin’s first semester finals were coming to an end, COVID-19 was bubbling into a pandemic. Online learning over the coming spring would prove to be a challenge to many students, including Gavin, who consistently saw the importance of attending his virtual weekly specialist appointments with Schleining. As the pair exchanged ideas, Gavin “was just very mindful of what worked for him and what didn’t, and what he needed to do to get back on track as far as his GPA,” Schleining said.

At the start of every semester, our Student Support Specialists meet with students to create a ‘SOAP’ (Semester On A Page), which lists all the exams, projects, and finals at-a-glance. Gavin said this helped him maintain a studying rhythm, but he also realized that he was weak in some subjects.

When the university transitioned to online learning in the spring of 2020, Gavin had to take Math 116, a required business calculus course. “That was horrifying. It was not a good experience. But the tutoring at SALT made it a good experience.” SALT Center tutors have been through the class and receive training on how to best help students who may learn differently. Gavin described himself as a “visual learner” and found a tutor who oriented their online sessions to accommodate his needs. Additionally, “Being able to come on-demand, not have to pay extra for those tutors, was something that helped exponentially,” Gavin said.

Abigail Entrican, Gavin’s current Student Support Specialist said, “Everything that he does is calculated. He’s caring and he’s driven.” Aside from devoting his 30-minute sessions to parsing grades down to the decimal point, she noted that Gavin is friendly and likeable, always inquiring about how she is doing. He is “a rare gem” in a world where students may not see the advantage of practicing those interpersonal skills at the SALT Center. “Students really have to have that desire of wanting to do the best that they possibly can do and, when they have that attitude, the SALT Center opens door-after-door-after-door, because students are taking advantage of those opportunities,” Entrican said.

Gavin said the academic and mental support he received, and the resilience that he practiced, has been the best part of his SALT Center experience. “SALT is there for you, whether it’s the specialists, the tutors, the resources downstairs, the drop-in labs, all of it revolves around the idea of supporting the student.” Discussing goals, making connections, and honing his academic skills helped Gavin find balance and maintain the motivation and determination to tackle both setbacks and successes. “If I had come to this school without SALT, I think that for one, I wouldn’t have at all succeeded in how I have, because it really provided me with something to fall back to if I needed the help.”

Although his career is just getting started, Schleining notes, “He’s everything that he’s earned.”