In August 2021, the College of Applied Science and Technology welcomed Tamekia Bailey as the director for CAST Connections, the College’s new student-level success center. CAST Connections will support students in the college through high-impact student success practices such as peer-to-peer mentoring, enhanced referral to existing campus support resources, micro internships with industry partners, community outreach projects, and professional development in areas focused on relational and financial topics.

The center will also be dedicated to enhancing the individualized attention provided to CAST students—with a focus on our first-generation and underrepresented students—to improve their access to strategies that are proven to lead to retention, graduation, and upward mobility.

Bailey ’08, M.S. ’10, brings 11 years of student success experience to the position. During her time at Illinois State, she has served in roles with TRIO/Student Support Services and with the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Tamekia Bailey

What are some of your goals for CAST Connections?

One of my goals is to create a CAST experience for students. The CAST experience is all about connections: students connecting with staff, peers, faculty, and opportunities. I want CAST students to feel a greater sense of belonging and pride in their college.

Another goal for CAST Connections is to double down on individualized attention. Research informs us that when students have more individualized attention, they are especially likely to be engaged and present in their collegiate journey. I want every student in CAST to feel the individualized attention that is embedded in the values of CAST. Typically, students do not remember their time spent in a building. They remember the time they spent connecting with people. When our graduates leave ISU, I’d like some of their fondest memories to be their engagement with CAST and CAST Connections.

I also look forward to creating new and innovative programs and opportunities for students. I am incredibly excited to create customized student experiences. The “one size fits all” model is obsolete. Students are looking for experiences specifically for their individual needs and desires, and CAST Connections aims to center students in all that we do.

Tell us about the service-learning component of CAST Connections.

CAST Connections believes in holistic student success. In other words, success is more than academics. Engagement in activities outside the classroom is essential to student success because the experiences help students demonstrate their knowledge and skills differently, beyond taking a test or performing well academically. In addition, service learning assists students in continuously shifting their mindset about their own strengths and abilities to make meaningful contributions to society.

Looking ahead, what are you most excited about for CAST Connections?

Too often, we become data-driven and forget about the individuals behind the numbers. I am looking forward to putting humanity back into retention efforts. I am looking forward to creating authentic partnerships with students and helping them to define their own success. I am excited to see the impact that CAST Connections can have.

To learn more about CAST Connections, please visit