Describe your current professional role and responsibilities.
As Associate Dean of Students, I work closely with academic and administrative departments to develop interventions which will have a profound impact on students as they move from entry to graduation. As the Director of the Center for Cross-Cultural Engagement (International Student Services and Multi-Cultural Student Affairs), I apply and advance student development knowledge to improve the retention and persistence of historically underrepresented student populations. I am also responsible for providing the overall design and coordination of programming with regard to cross-cultural relations and capacity building.
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?
The Basic Employment Skills Training (BEST) Program helped me integrate the academic program with my graduate assistantship experiences. I graduated from the program able to clearly articulate the professional skills needed to properly plan and execute developmental programs and services for contemporary college students. My background and disciplinary foundations in history and educational leadership continues to shape the lens through which I frame societal phenomena and seek to address educational, racial and cultural disparities. My ability to communicate, both written and verbal, well complements my active listening and facilitation skills. I owe a great deal to HESA.
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?
Engage in self-reflection. Lead with your strengths and natural talents. Career and interest-based assessments that are administered by career exploration and development offices are helpful in understanding preferences. Use these tools to chart your path.
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?
Work/life balance is paramount. New professionals often lose themselves in their work. While this may result in public recognition and/or favor from a supervisor, employees often burn out or significantly damage personal relationships in the process. Leaving work on time and establishing boundaries help greatly in maintaining your sanity!
If you were to impart one piece of advice to HESA alumni what would you share? What advice would you share with current students?
To both constituencies, I strongly recommend creating a board of trustees. Identify professionals in higher education administration and beyond who have skills and networks that you want. Select individuals who are generous with their time to advise and support your professional development.