Higher Education & Student Affairs

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Where are the now: Catching up with our 2015 cohort Part 2


The responses below are the second installment of a two-part series highlighting the 2015 Baylor HESA Graduates. 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 two!

Once again, thank you, graduates, for sharing your stories with us and encouraging our current second-year cohort as they are in the midst of the job search and interview process!

Baylor Higher Education and Student Affairs Graduates 2015

Anika Strand: Coordinator of Student Leadership and Involvement—Samford University

 My role as Coordinator of Student Leadership and Involvement has two primary focuses: student organizations and student government. I serve as an advisor to some members of our Student Executive Board, which includes advising our freshman leadership seminar–Freshman Forum–in addition to the Presidential Advisory Council and the Multicultural Affairs Committee. Most of my time, however, is spent providing training and support to our non-Greek student organizations. Because our Student Life staff is small, I also get the opportunity to be involved in other areas of student development, such as Greek Life and Student Activities & Events.

 My experience in the HESA program–both in and out of the classroom–prepared me extremely well for this position. Throughout my apprenticeship, I had the opportunity to not only be involved in my area, but to observe or volunteer in other areas as well. This helped me gain a breadth of experience, which has contributed to a smooth transition into my current position. The aspect of HESA that prepared me the most, however, was the faith-based component of the program. Knowing I was going to consider primarily faith-based institutions, I appreciated the amount of time professors spent introducing us and guiding us through the complexities involved in working at faith-based institutions.

Katie Styles: Assistant Director of Student Engagement—Marymount University

Within my role, I oversee and advise Marymount’s club community and co-advise the Association for Campus Events (ACE), Marymount’s programming board. I also help plan numerous large scale events and campus-wide initiatives including Homecoming, Family Weekend, Saintsfest (Marymount’s Diadeloso), and New Student Orientation, just to name a few. As you can probably guess, no two days are the same and I have my hands in lots of different things–which is amazing!

How did HESA help prepare me? The real question is how didn’t HESA help prepare me?! Marymount is very different from my past institutions so I’m especially thankful for our Culture and Organization, Student Development Theory, Capstone, and Higher Ed Law courses because they’ve really helped me adjust and adapt to Marymount in the last couple of months. Also, learning how to balance my academic work, my apprenticeship work, and having some time for fun has translated into my professional work. Finally, and most importantly, HESA gave me an incredible network that I can rely on for professional and personal advice. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to get this out of my graduate experience but there’s no way I could thrive within this field without this network of staff, faculty, and cohortians. Gotta have community, you know?

Ray Small: Adult Education and Literacy Instructor—McLennan Community College

The Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) program at MCC specializes in four areas of adult education including GED preparation, English Language Acquisition, college preparatory, and career pathway classes. Ray’s role as an instructor helps adult learners work towards their goals of furthering their education by completing their GEDs, and/or preparing for college-level coursework.

Cassandra Thompson: Career Specialist, College of Communications—California State University, Fullerton

Essentially I advise any and all students in the College of Communications in regards to internships and future careers (resume reviews, mock interviews, etc.). I do many workshops and presentations both for the college and the university as a whole….which of course I love because I get to create the content and I actually enjoy getting up in front of a room of students and trying to win them over (yes, I’ve really seen my WOO strength come out in full effect.) Lastly, I also work to collaborate with employers on engaging with our students. Since I’m with Communications students this includes getting to do fun site visits to places like Hulu and Paramount Pictures… and talk to adults.

Probably the most helpful thing I learned in HESA was the differences between student affairs and faculty and how to build partnerships, as well as understanding when they simply might not be built and to fully focus on the good ones. This information helped me know how to navigate in those first months of my position. I knew how to “make the rounds” if you will, and set meetings with my Dean, Intern Coordinator, Academic Advisors, etc. as well as meeting with all the Presidents of the various student organizations to start building those key relationships. A semester in, I now have a good idea of who my key partners are. This is a concept I would not know or understand if not for HESA.

Taylor Willis: Residence Director—Texas Woman’s University

Taylor works as a resident director for two apartment buildings reserved for upper class students, and one housing community that will be home to the Sophomore Year Experience Program in the fall of 2016. The Sophomore Year Experience Program will focus on connecting residents with similar majors and interests to in an effort to enhance the residence experience for TWU students.

Written by Lisa Perry, 2016 Cohort


yolande_graham • June 9, 2016

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