Higher Education & Student Affairs

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Where are they Now: Catching up with our 2015 Cohort Part 1

We have come to the end of the semester, and our second-year cohort members are well on their way in the job search: applying, interviewing, and preparing for the next step after graduation. As we are excited for this year’s graduating cohort and all that is before them, we thought we might send some encouragement by highlighting the 2015 HESA graduates as they are finishing their first year post-graduation at various institutions across the country.

We asked each of the recent graduates to share with us (1) a description of what they are up to now, and (2) how they feel HESA prepared them for their current roles. Their insights and information were so good, we decided not to edit for length, and are compiling their responses into two posts. Below is part one!

2015 HESA Grads, we are so proud of you and excited for all you are doing! Thank you for sharing your stories with us!

Baylor Higher Education and Student Affairs Graduates 2015

Cara Allen: Graduate Research Assistant & Ph.D. Candidate—Baylor University

I am continuing my studies in higher education as a doctoral student in the Higher Education Studies and Leadership program at Baylor. In addition to my coursework, much like the HESA program, I also have an apprenticeship on campus. I work as a research assistant for Perry Glanzer and Nathan Alleman. In my role, I assist the faculty with their research projects from brainstorming ideas, collecting and analyzing data, to writing articles for conferences or publication.  I also edit book reviews, articles, chapters, and books that they are working on. I have been fortunate to gain insights into the many facets of faculty life under two wonderful mentors.

My time in HESA not only helped prepare me academically for doctoral work, but it also gave me the tools I needed to be successful in my apprenticeship. While in HESA, I was engaged in a writing intensive program that challenged me to think critically about connecting concepts and material and gave me the opportunity to write a thesis, which has equipped me for my role as a researcher and aspiring scholar.

Misha Cooper: Career Consultant—University of Tennessee, Knoxville

I meet one-on-one with students specifically from the College of Business on many different career development topics. I help them with internship and full-time job search, résumé critiques, mock interviews, networking skills, graduate education navigation and more. I also teach two classes and plan workshops centered on career development topics.

HESA helped me to prepare for my position because I was able to have an assistantship in the Career & Professional Development office during my second year in the program. Through the assistantship I learned and gained many of the relevant skills that I now use on the job!

Joshua Donath: Community Coordinator—University of Cincinnati

I work alongside a Residence Hall Director to manage a hall of 800 first-year students.  My primary responsibilities are to supervise 14 Desk Assistants, half of the RAs, and the six executive members of Calhoun Hall Government.  I’ve also been serving on our department’s Assessment Committee and Education Committee, where I’m working to establish the university’s first Living-Learning Program.  Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to create some videos for our RA Recruitment as well as for the Vice President of Student Affairs.

One of the ways HESA prepared me to enter my first professional role was in challenging me to think about campus culture in a variety of ways.  Both in Culture and Organization in Higher Education and my work in the Academy for Leader Development, I was equipped with the tools to navigate a university as large as UC with 40,000 students.  My experience in HESA has been especially instrumental in navigating campus partnerships and understanding how to work in an environment shaped by large initiatives that are unique to the university such as their extensive coop program.

Melissa McLevain: Residential Learning Coordinator (RLC)—Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

I oversee a residential building of close to 1,100 first-year students, which means I wear a variety of different hats depending on the day. Primarily, I work with another RLC to co-supervise 29 Resident Advisors. I also advise the Pritchard Hall Council, comprised of 4 executive team members and 4 community members. Alongside our two student leadership teams, I work to create opportunities for our students to learn outside of the classroom. Additionally, I serve as a Conduct Hearing Officer and respond to facility and maintenance concerns in Pritchard.

My HESA experience prepared me to think critically about my students and their experience at Virginia Tech. I often catch myself trying to imagine how various members of my cohort would respond to a difficult issue, and their perspectives inform my thinking. My HESA experience also prepared me to articulate what higher education means to me and what I hope it will mean for my students.

 Gabriela Olaguibel: Success Coach for First Generation Students—McLennan Community College

Basically, I’m one of several success coaches, and I am specifically in charge of the First Generation Scholars Program, which involves a scholarship, funded by the Rapoport Foundation.  I work with the two cohorts in this program, which is a lot of fun.  I help recruit and select the incoming students, while working with the students in both cohorts: the first-year students are adapting to college, and the second-years are applying to transfer to other institutions to earn their bachelor’s degree.

I appreciate HESA’s focus on researching different student demographics; I was not a first generation college student yet this is the demographic I primarily work with, and even as I’ve learned a lot on the job, I appreciate that I was familiar with the challenges and common factors of first generation college students.  I was also already familiar with MCC, in part because of HESA’s focus on us exploring and learning from all types of higher education institutions.  I also learned a lot from being a GA in Wellness, because of the holistic focus on students and the opportunity to supervise and mentor student interns.  These are some aspects of HESA, among others, that have contributed my doing well in my current position.  So, thank you!

Kristin Short: Senior Coordinator for Student Activities—University of Georgia

In this role I oversee programming related to campus traditions including but not limited to the official UGA Homecoming celebration, WUOG 90.5 FM (26,000 watt student-run radio station), Pandora Yearbook, UGA Night at Six Flags, and all collaborative events between Student Affairs and Athletics such as Film on the Fifty, Basket Bash, and pep rallies.  On a day-to-day basis, this job includes supervising two Graduate Assistants, co-advising about 30 student leaders, negotiating contracts, coordinating event logistics, communicating with campus collaborators, and keeping tabs on four separate budgets.

HESA prepared me for this role in so many ways… HESA courses taught me to think critically about the politics of an institution and to recognize how systems can be oppressive to certain groups of people even when you don’t intend for them to be.  My apprenticeship in the Counseling Center taught me to see things through a lens of equity and to meet students where they are in their developmental process.  My practicums with the Greek Leader Retreat and the NEDA Walk gave me practical experience in event planning, budgeting, fundraising, entertainment, and curriculum development.  Each of these experiences contributed to me being hired at UGA, and have helped me achieve the high standard that was set for me immediately upon entering this position.  It has been a crazy ride so far, but I love it and could not be more pleased about where my Baylor degree has led me!


Written by Lisa Perry, 2016 Cohort


yolande_graham • April 22, 2016

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