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Meet Laura Zito: A Problem Solver for Online Students

UL Online -- Mon, 08/27/2018 - 11:58am

You’re approaching your first semester at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and you’re not a traditional student. You’ll be taking classes totally online, juggling studies around your work schedule and family time. Where do you turn if you need help?

You turn to Laura Zito.University of Louisiana at Lafayette Online Student Retention Specialist Laura Zito

“By nature, I’m a problem solver,” she says emphatically. “That’s what I do a lot of.”

Her official title is “retention specialist” in the Office of Distance Learning, and Zito is standing by to lend a helping hand when online students need information. Those students can request help by emailing

She has three things in her favor when it comes to making sure those students get the help they need. First, she’s a UL Lafayette graduate. Second, she is highly experienced; this is her second time around in working at the Distance Learning office, where she was online student support specialist from 2013 to 2016 before leaving to focus on her family. She rejoined the department in March of 2018.

And third, she has strong credentials from her career before UL, with nearly 20 years of sales, operations, and customer service experience.

Her dedication to customer service — “Students are our customers,” she says — underpins her daily approach to her job.

“When I’m working with them, especially if they are frustrated with something, we see how quickly we can find an answer to something,” she says. “When online students run into problems, they may not know who to contact for what. Maybe they’re working and can’t make calls during the day. So having one person they can go to and trust is really important.”

She provides ongoing support to all students enrolled in online degree and certificate programs, ensuring newly enrolled students transition easily into the online learning environment and creating ways to encourage and track student success.

She checks to make sure online students have completed online orientation, advising, registration and financial aid processing, but her ultimate goal is to help students succeed in their online programs from their first class through graduation.

There really isn’t a typical day in Zito’s work life, but that’s part of what she likes about the job. She could be working with advisers to help a student get course substitutions approved, or going through students’ transcript to find classes that fit their curriculum. She could be working with the financial aid office to be sure a student’s paperwork is in process, or she may be calling students directly to remind them about when their tuition is due.

She also connects students with support services across campus, such as the Academic Success Center, online tutoring, Career Services, and technical support.

“When we get a little win, a little victory for the online student, you can hear squeals coming from my cubicle,” Zito says. “I get very passionate about it, helping them work through their problems.”

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