By Daniel Casciato

At South University West Palm Beach, Dr. Cindy Manjounes is leading the way toward student success and professional excellence. As the Dean of Academics and Retention, she is responsible for managing all academic operations and student support services – including the academic success center, library, and academic advising – which play an essential role in increasing student success.

South University has long had a reputation for being an institution that supplies students with the healthcare education they need to be successful in their chosen fields, something that drew Dr. Manjounes to take on her role with the university.

One of the reasons why she came to South University is to be part of an institution that’s working hard to supply people who are needed in the healthcare field.

“South has a great history, and our faculty and programs here are just stellar,” she says. “They’re first notch and it’s just really a privilege to be a part of everything here. I feel like this is a place where I can really make a difference and serve the community.”

The university’s retention and graduation rates in its healthcare programs have been steadily improving post COVID, according to Dr. Manjounes.

“COVID threw everybody for a loop because students had to take many degrees and classes online that hadn’t really been online before, and the staff did a great job with that,” she says. “We offer a lot of support services to our students that include tutoring both online and in person, as well as other student support and counseling services through our Office of Student Affairs. So if a student is struggling personally, we have counseling services that we can refer them to for that.”

If students are struggling academically, South University offers tutoring services from faculty mentors who work with the students as well.

“We try to intervene early and often to give them what they need to be successful academically,” adds Dr. Manjounes.

Compared to other schools, Dr. Manjounes states that their students are really highly motivated to succeed.

“For our PA and our AA programs, which are our graduate programs, we always have substantially more students apply than we can accept because those cohort sizes are limited,” she says. “Our PTA cohorts are smaller, but our nursing cohorts are 40 students, and they’re usually maxed out with every enrollment we have.”

One piece of advice that she would have for first-year students is to communicate.

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” she says. “Communicate with your instructors, your academic advisors, financial aid, and don’t be afraid to ask if you have a question about something. We’re all here to help and we may have tools available to help them, such as tutoring and counseling to help strengthen their academic process and their progress and resilience.”

One thing South University did this year that’s unique is the implementation of a wellness room which can be utilized by both students and faculty. With the high stress profession that these students are going into, they need to learn how to promote that self-care and take care of themselves as well, stresses Dr. Manjounes.

“It’s a quiet place for meditation, yoga, and prayer,” she says. “If you just need some quiet time, there’s nice music, yoga mats, and bag chairs. We also have some nice, muted lighting.”

Looking ahead, Dr. Manjounes says the university will be working to enhance its office space labs and simulation for its nursing program. They also plan to do some reorganization and enhancement of technology there. Also in the works is revamping the library into more of a learning commons where there will be a limited print collection and an enhanced study area with additional tools for student success and learning.

For potential students considering attending South, Dr. Manjounes says that ii you have the desire, will and the fortitude, and you want to be a physical therapy assistant or a nurse or something else in the healthcare field, give yourself a shot at that career path.


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