Eastern Michigan University

Jean Szura

Describe your current professional role and responsibilities.

Currently I am the Director of Service Learning for the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. I assist faculty with integrating service learning into their courses, plan co-curricular service activities and connect students to service activities, and assist students with community based research projects (both course related and co-curricular).

 

How did your HESA educational and co-curricular experiences prepare you for this profession? How have your experiences (both within higher education and external to higher education, if applicable) prepare you for your current position?

First and foremost it provided the foundation/ context for what I do both in terms of theory and practice. Also, the HESA program allowed us to explore different avenues in higher education to gain a broad knowledge/ skill base. Lastly, I was connected to my graduate assistantship at the University of Michigan -- Dearborn through the HESA program – there I gained many of the skills necessary to continue pursuing a career in student affairs (which ultimately has lead to where I am now in Academic Affairs!)

 

What advice would you provide to a graduate student who is struggling to select a functional area of higher education in which to work upon graduation?

First I would say that no matter which specific area of higher education they select, they should focus on gaining transferrable skills from that area. Second, I would tell them to get involved in organizations and committees outside of their functional area at their institution or with their national organization(s) that will provide them with a broader base of experiences. That way they can continue to grow their professional career without ever feeling “pigeon-holed.”

 

What are the top lessons you learned during your first year as a student affairs professional? How did those lessons impact you both personally and professionally?

One lesson I learned is that even though I had a specific job, I had the ability to shape/ sculpt my professional experience. No one was there to encourage me to step out of my specific role(s) and take the initiative to grow – I had to do that myself. By pushing myself to break out of my comfort zone and network at my institution in my first year as a professional, I developed professional relationships that have lead me to where I am now.  

 

If you were to impart one piece of advice to HESA alumni what would you share? What advice would you share with current students? 

One piece of advice I would share for HESA alumni is to never place limits on yourself in terms of your career in higher education. Tasks and responsibilities can be learned – it is more about who you are as a person and your work ethic.

For current students I would say enjoy your time in the HESA program and foster relationships with those in your cohort. You have 10 (12, 14…) classmates with unique experiences to learn from. And you have that many great friends and colleagues for life. Have fun, strive to go above and beyond, and take advantage of everything “the program” (shout out to the c/o 2006 cohort) has to offer.