Get to Know HFC: Bridget Smith-Botos
HFC team member Bridget Smith-Botos recently took on a newly-created position of research analyst for HFC’s Institutional Research and Business Intelligence division.
“My background is in sociology. Being a sociologist is being an analyst. I’m just being an analyst in a different capacity – rather than analyzing societies, I’m analyzing data. My background is in program improvement, so this position combines my work in the non-profit sector and as a sociologist. It was a good fit for me and where I see myself in the future. It’s also a new position, so I’ll make an impact shaping the role as well,” said Smith-Botos, who was previously a student success navigator at HFC for two years.
Applying research analysis to improving student experiences
Smith-Botos’ duties as research analyst include performing institutional research, predictive analysis, and reporting – all of which are focused on the student experience and student outcomes. This includes placement, retention, completion, and success. Smith-Botos will assist with translating data into actionable recommendations to ensure that decision-makers are empowered with timely, useful, and necessary information for determining why, how, and what now. She will also conduct environmental scans that identify and forecast internal and external factors (demographics, local and regional labor market, public policy, etc.) that may impact the College’s strategic direction.
“One point President Russell Kavalhuna is working to improve is graduation rates,” she said. “That starts with data. We will have to look for ways to improve graduation rates and program completions. That’s what gets me excited about this position.”
Smith-Botos reports to HFC Director of Institutional Research and Business Intelligence Jacob Krogol.
“We’re very excited to welcome Bridget aboard and are looking forward to working with her,” said Krogol. “Right away, it was apparent that she has a true passion for both student success and research. She's seen higher education from multiple perspectives – as a student, an instructor, and a support staff member – and has a great sense of what questions we could and should be asking. I look forward to seeing what she and our office can discover.”
A desire to understand why things are the way they are
A West Michigan native, Smith-Botos resides in Royal Oak with her husband Kevin Botos, a guidance counselor at Walled Lake Northern High School, and their two dogs.
A graduate of Cedar Springs High School, Smith-Botos attended Grand Valley State University in Allendale, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology. She went on to earn three master’s degrees. The first is in social sciences from the University of Michigan-Flint. The second is in sociology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The third is in non-profit management from Argosy University in Chicago. She spoke about her desire to go into sociology.
“I have always had a desire to understand why things are the way they are,” explained Smith-Botos. “When I was young, my family moved to Three Rivers. My dad worked at the General Motors plant. There were many transplants from the Metro Detroit area who were from all walks of life, so it was racially and ethnically diverse. Then we moved to an all-white community when I was 14. There, I saw how badly people who were different were treated, which I couldn’t understand. Seeing this set me on the path to becoming a sociologist because I wanted to understand why people behave this way.”
Multiple college pathway through teaching
Smith-Botos has been in higher education since 2009, having taught sociology as an adjunct instructor at the Art Institute of Michigan in Novi, Davenport University, Baker College, the University of Phoenix, Schoolcraft College, and Monroe County Community College. She also worked in educational programming at the social services non-profit organization ACCESS in Dearborn.
She joined HFC in 2017, where she was an adjunct advisor for two years. She has been a student success navigator since 2019. Additionally, she has also taught sociology at HFC.
“I have always wanted to work at a community college because I truly believe community colleges are where we can help people improve their socioeconomic status,” said Smith-Botos. “I’ve worked for ACCESS, so I’m familiar with the Dearborn area. It’s very satisfying to work with an immigrant, help them integrate into the community, help them learn English, help them get a degree, and help them move up socioeconomically. Community colleges are uniquely positioned to do that. Working with such a large immigrant community is what made HFC stand out for me.”