Assistant Director of Student Activities – Engagement, Leadership and Service
Harmony – Relator – Developer – Learner – Consistency
Nicole McConnell is an Assistant Director in the Center for Student Activities & Involvement within the Tate Student Center. In her role, she advises staff and students responsible for large-scale campus programming through University Union’s events and concerts. These programs are designed to help students develop a sense of community here on UGA’s campus. Nicole grew up in the Alpharetta area and has family in the surrounding Atlanta area. She obtained her undergraduate degree in industrial engineering technology at Southern Polytechnic State University (now a part of Kennesaw State University). While there, Nicole was involved within fraternity & sorority life, student government, was a resident assistant and was an orientation leader. It was through her experience in residence life that she realized how the student development experience could create an impact in the lives of other students and the campus community. “In a way, it showed us that our efforts were ‘worth it’. I grew a lot through it and it was nice to see the direct impact of our work.”
Nicole stayed at Southern Polytechnic for her Master’s in Business Administration and held an assistantship in Residential Life and Housing. Going into graduate school, her goal was to use her educational experiences to get a job working as a consultant and/or ensuring a plant and production line achieved maximum efficiency. It was during her second year as a graduate assistant when she decided that her true passion was working with and helping students. “I was in my second year and began thinking about ‘what’s next’ when I graduate. I kept coming back to how instrumental student affairs staff were in my undergraduate and graduate careers. Being the first person in your family to go to college can be difficult in so many ways. Whether it ranges from not having enough context for ’what college is about’ to knowing what resources are available to you as a student, it can make you feel a little lost at times.”
Nicole attributes where she is today to the staff she met as an undergraduate. “The staff I met during my first year as a student were instrumental in my ability to get involved in student organizations that I was passionate about, make friends, or ultimately be able to look back on my time at Southern Poly and feel like we left a positive mark on it as student leaders. The ability to help other people grow and develop, foster connections and life-long relationships, and the incredible opportunities that lie before them is what drew me to this field.”
Before joining us at UGA, Nicole worked in Residential Life & Housing at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. She attributes her ability to adapt to things that happen “on the fly” at events and programs to her housing experience there. “Being a hall director at VCU gave me a lot of diverse experiences and allowed me to explore different professional development opportunities. I wanted to gain professional experience at another school and in another state so I could step outside my comfort zone. I saw that UGA had this opening in a focus area that I am passionate about and Georgia is ‘home’ to me so it was a no-brainer. Getting to combine the opportunity to be close to family, be a part of UGA, and getting to work with the students we have here made the transition easy. Not only is each day different, but being able to be a part of student lives like student affairs professionals were a part of mine is what I love most. It’s great to be able to see the impact they make in the lives of others as student leaders and, in turn, the impact we as staff have in their lives.”
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?:
I love live music and concerts. When I am not working, I am probably going to a show in Atlanta or Athens. Getting to meet artists is cool; I have been able to meet Fall Out Boy and Zac Brown Band which were both really great. Getting to meet them was really cool!