Today we are featuring a glimpse into what #SApros & #SAgrads have said were the most surprising things they’ve experienced working in Student Affairs & Higher Education.
What is the most surprising (but awesome) thing you’ve ever experienced in your job in Student Affairs?
The people. These folks are some of the most inspiring and influential people I know. Whether its students, faculty, or other Student Affairs educators, the people are amazing.
~ Ed Cabellon
The students who felt more connected to the University because of their experiences with me. Students who felt that they could use me as a sounding board. Students who excel and move on in the world beyond college and kick butt!
~ Jennifer Keegin
During a student conduct meeting last year, a student disclosed to me that they were gender non-conforming. When completing the paperwork for the meeting, I asked the student which pronouns they preferred. The student quickly responded, but apparently, after leaving my office, wrote an entry on their Tumblr about the positive experience they had with me, and how much it meant that I’d asked that question. I discovered this because I later met with the student’s friend, who told me about it. I didn’t ever think I’d be getting online reviews from students, but it really showed me how much a simple, thoughtful moment can impact a student’s experience.
~ Ashley N. Robinson
The most surprising thing for me has been how diverse your career experience can be. I started my own career in an unconventional way – I moved to Doha, Qatar – so that’s definitely why that stuck out immediately. And now, I work at an educational non-profit, but continue to work directly with students. My career choices have helped me straddle the line between Student Affairs and International Education, though the two are really fields unto themselves. I think what that really says is find the programs and opportunities that drive you, and don’t worry too much about whether or not it fits in a particular box.
~ Emily Yates
Being moved to tears by the ways students are transformed through their experience.
~ Keith Edwards
Seeing students that I’ve worked with for 4 (or 5 or 6) years graduate and move into the real world. I feel a great sense of accomplishment for them & always look forward to hearing from them in the future.
~ Courtney Jarrett
The connection with other student affairs educators on my campus and beyond. The professional connections, networks, and friendships I have built through my involvement within ACPA have changed my life. I met my closest friends through professional involvement and have been able to better serve the students with whom I work as a result of the professional development experiences in which I have engaged, both educational and research.
~ Kristan Cilente Skendall
What has surprised you most about working in Student Affairs?
I was surprised to see how much happens behind the scenes in the Student Affairs field. When I was an undergraduate, I didn’t realize that the professionals that I worked with had so much education, experience, and knowledge of developmental theories. The things that a college student does outside of the classroom really does have a purpose and can help students in ways that they might not realize until much later.
~ Kevin Knudsen
How different each type of school is. Urban vs. rural, faith-based vs. public, etc. While 18 year old students have some commonalities no matter where you go, the region of the country and the type of institution you work really matters. The differences are vast.
Also, the number one most important predictor of your success is your supervisor.
~ Ann Marie Klotz
The longer I stay in it, the more I’m fascinated by all the different offices/departments in Student Affairs and what they all do and how they all impact the student experience in their own way.
~ Jennifer Keegin
The theories and idealized conversations you have in the classrooms of your graduate program are harder to find on a daily basis working in the profession. It isn’t that they don’t happen anymore, but they aren’t on the forefront of our minds. I’m a true nerd so the lack of philosophical conversations or intergroup dialogues and reflections has been an adjustment for me now that I am a full-time professional. That said, I feel empowered to take the knowledge I’ve learned in graduate school and integrate it into the meetings I have with my colleagues, infuse it into the programs I facilitate, and design intentional methods to implement theory through my daily work.
~ Christina Ferrari
I don’t technically work in Student Affairs. I work in Alumni Services and Advancement. The model and work environment could not be any more different than my time as a GA and in my first professional role.
At the same time, I have a student staff; I put together engagement events, and work with a much larger and diverse audience through our different digital communities (social media sites). Transferable skills are vital and that’s how I look at it. All I have done is taken everything I know and have transferred it into this position.
~ Josh Kohnert
I work in Admissions which is an area that not all would consider student affairs. I do, but that could be because I have my masters in College Student Personnel so I view admissions through a very different lens than a lot of my colleagues. I am at a very small institution (approx. 850 students) so I get to see, hear, and get involved in a lot of different areas on campus. I am surprised every day to learn the admissions lens of viewing higher education but I am grateful that I bring a student development lens to the table as well. I work with transfer students every day and am eager to hear their stories and learn with them on their journey navigating the adjustment from a 2 year community college to a 4 year institution or from taking time off to heading back to school. Being at a small school allows me to continue relationships students that I recruit even after the new year starts and connect them to different resources on campus.
~ Mandi Stewart
About our contributors:
Bio: Ed has over 17 years of progressive experience in Higher Education administration and is a leader in social media and technology integration, education, and assessment. He has worked in various Student Affairs/Student Life departments such as the Campus Center, Residence Life and Student Activities, and currently serves as Assistant to the Vice President of Student Affairs at Bridgewater State University. He is also enrolled as a doctoral student at Johnson and Wales University with the goal of earning his Ed.D. in Educational Leadership in the spring of 2016.
Years in field: 16-20
Connect with Ed on Twitter: @EdCabellon
Bio: Director of Campus Life at Macalester College. Speaker and educator on college men’s identity, sexual assault prevention, student learning, social justice education, and student affairs leadership.
Years in the field: 16 – 20
Connect with Keith on Twitter: @edwardsk14
Bio: Jennifer Keegin is currently the Associate Director of Campus Activities at Binghamton University while serving part time as the Division of Student Affairs Communications Manager. Previous to work at Binghamton U, Jennifer worked in Student Activities at Loyola University New Orleans and in Residence Life at the North Carolina School of the Arts. A big fan of Twitter, Jennifer enjoys all social media and new technology while at the same time collects images of retro technology used by women on her blog jenniferkeegin.com.
Years in the field: 16 – 20
Connect with Jennifer on Twitter: @JenniferKeegin
Ashely N. Robinson
Bio: Ashley is a new professional in residential life. A twice-over graduate of the University of Maine, she is a proud Black Bear and member of Gamma Sigma Sigma National Service Sorority, Inc. Her professional passions include residential student learning and development, social justice education, and student transition.
Years in field: 2-4
Connect with Ashley on Twitter: @ashleynrobinson
Bio: Christina Ferrari has been an active in the social media scene since 2011 when she started emailing and reaching out to student affairs professionals on LinkedIn. A weekly writer for Student Affairs– The First Years blog, Christina has utilized social media as a platform to articulate and promote the needs, challenges, and successes of graduate students and new professionals in our field. Last fall, Christina led S.A.L.T (Student Affairs Leaders of Tomorrow) for Region IV-East and incorporated the use of social media into the program to assist upcoming graduate students to develop their professional brand. Currently, she serves as the Residential Learning Coordinator for Leadership Development at Valparaiso University. Through this role, Christina regularly presents on social media and digital ethics to student organizations, faculty, and staff. Personally, social media has allowed Christina to connect with numerous professionals and these relationships have resulted in internship opportunities, mentoring, job-search coaching, and lasting friendships. Christina holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and Theater from DePaul University and a Master of Education in Higher Education from Loyola University Chicago. Her passion areas include technology, leadership development, and diversity education.
Years in field: 0-1
Connect with Christina on Twitter: @cm_ferrari3
Bio: I am a Student Advisor at the Institute of International Education in Washington, D.C, where I advise Saudi Arabian students. Prior to joining IIE, I served as an International Student Advisor at Texas A&M University, and spent three years at Texas A&M at Qatar. I completed my M.Ed. in Student Personnel in Higher Education at the University of Florida, and a B.S. degree in Technical Theatre at Radford University (VA).
Years in field: 8-10
Connect with Emily on Twitter: @emryates
Kristan Cilenten Skendall
Bio: Kristan Cilente Skendall completed her doctorate at the University of Maryland, College Park in the College Student Personnel program and works as the Associate Director of the Gemstone Program, a four-year undergraduate research program in the Honors College at the University of Maryland. Kristan also has a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Arizona and a bachelor’s degree in sociology and history from the College of William & Mary, where she served as a Resident Assistant.
Professionally, Kristan has worked at Georgetown University, the U.S. Department of Education, and at ACPA-College Student Educators International. Kristan’s served as the Senior Coordinator for Community Service-Learning in the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, where she coordinated the Alternative Spring Break program in its initial years on campus. She has published several articles and book chapters related to student leadership, alternative spring break, multiple identity development, and new professionals needs.
Years in field: 11-15
Connect with Kristan on Twitter: @kskendall
Bio: Courtney Jarrett is the Associate Director of Disability Services at Ball State University where she helps coordinate the university’s efforts to serve approximately 650 students with disabilities. She primarily oversees auxiliary accommodations such as note takers & sign language interpreters. She is a past president of the Indiana Association on Higher Education and Disability. She previously worked at the University College Learning Center at Ball State assisting with testing accommodations for students with disabilities. In addition to her full-time position, Courtney also teaches in the Women’s & Gender Studies program. She advises two student groups: Alliance for Disability Awareness & Feminists for Action.
Years in field: 5-7
Connect with Courtney on Twitter: @cjjarrett
Bio: College Student Personnel Western Illinois University ’14 | Iowa State University ’12 | Runner, Yogi, List-Maker, Reader, Learner | Into Drinking Coffee and Eating Healthy | Newlywed | Unfinished | Morning Person | Bruce Springsteen enthusiast.
Years in field: 0-1
Connect with Mandi on Twitter: @mandijstewart
Bio: Hi Everyone! My name is Kevin Knudsen and I am a second year graduate student and graduate assistant at Salisbury University! For the longest time I wanted to be a secondary social studies teacher, but changed my career path last year when I found my true passion in Student Affairs. My main role at SU is in our learning center, the Center for Student Achievement, where I oversee the tutoring program among various other responsibilities. I work with the Orientation program at the beginning of every semester where I help plan and oversee the Transfer Orientation Program as well. I also serve as the president of the Graduate Student Council. I’m very excited about the upcoming months as I’ll be pursuing a full-time career in the field!
Years in field: 0-1
Connect with Kevin on Twitter: @kknuds21
Ann Marie Klotz
Bio: Dr. Ann Marie Klotz is the Dean for Campus Life and Chief Student Affairs Officer on the Manhattan campus of the New York Institute of Technology. Previously, she spent 14 years working in Housing and Residence Life at Oregon State University, DePaul University, Ball State University and Albion College. She earned her B.A. from Grand Valley State University (Political Science) and M.A.’s from Michigan State University (Student Affairs) and DePaul University (Women and Gender Studies) respectively. She recently earned her doctorate in the spring of 2014 from DePaul University where she studied the career trajectories and leadership styles of ten female university presidents.
She is the current National Co-Chair for the Women in Student Affairs (WISA) Knowledge Community for NASPA and is the recent recipient of the 2014 ACPA Standing Committee for Women Research and Scholarship Award. Personal and research interests include women’s career development, professional staff recruitment, developing on-line communities, personal branding, and first generation college students. Learn more at www.annmarieklotz.com
Years in field: 11-15
Connect with Ann Marie on Twitter: @annmarieklotz
Bio: I’m geek out about a lot of things. Advocate for the use of technology in education. Ultimately, work to show students and others how awesome they are. Currently mange the social media for MyWMU, the online brand for the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at Western Michigan University.
Years in field: 2 – 4
Connect with Josh on Twitter: @JoshKohnert
This post is part of our #CSAM14 series, looking to highlight both the careers of amazing student affairs professionals, and specific questions that dig deep into what it means to be in student affairs. Each post reflects the insights of student affairs professionals of all kinds. For more information, check out the intro post by Ryan Bye.