Assistant Director - Center for Student Activities and Involvement - Tate Student Center
How long have you been at UGA? Are you from Georgia?
I have been at UGA going on three years now. No, I am not from Georgia, but once you are a Bulldog it kinda starts to feel like that. I am from Stafford, Virginia.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you go to school? What did you do there?
I went to Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia where I majored in communication with a focus area in organizational communication.
I really enjoyed my experience at Longwood. It’s a school with a lot of history and unique traditions. There, I was an orientation leader and held positions within my sorority and the Panhellenic community. Getting to serve on the Panhellenic Council and help lead the women in the community gave me a lot of incredible access to see what the world of student affairs could look like. Several sororities got their start on Longwood’s campus, so it was cool to be on a campus where many women’s leadership organizations blossomed. After graduating, I worked for my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, as a traveling consultant before I went to the University of South Carolina to get my master’s in higher education and student affairs.
What was being a traveling consultant for Alpha Delta Pi like?
It was eye-opening. During my time as a consultant, I ended up visiting almost 30 different college campuses. I was able to visit a variety of campuses, see how they contribute to their student experience, and witness first-hand how a student’s leadership experience shaped them as people. Interacting with such a wide array of people on any given day, all connected through this common experience being a member of this organization or the campus community, helped me realize my passion for helping students grow throughout their collegiate years.
Do any fun stories or experiences stand out from your time traveling and visiting different colleges?
My first visit was to the chapter at UGA. A chapter member, who also happened to be in The Arch Society, gave me a late-night tour of campus and I rang the Chapel Bell for the first time. Looking back on it, that is such a great way start to my career in higher education. It’s kind of poetic that, many years later, I was able to ring the bell again to celebrate getting my job in the Center for Student Activities and Involvement.
Do you have a favorite UGA tradition?
I would say ringing the [Chapel] bell is my favorite UGA tradition. There is something special about getting to take a moment to recognize and celebrate an accomplishment or something exciting happening in your life. Plus, you get to decide what is “worth” celebrating. When you hear the bell, you know that somewhere out there, something really great is happening in the lives of others.
What led you back to the University of Georgia?
Almost too many [reasons] to list. I like being at the state flagship institution. There’s something special about being able to create an impact and empower students at such a storied institution as this one.
[Also] the job itself. I remember thinking, “Oh wow this is exactly what I can see myself doing” when I read the position description. The potential to positively affect the lives of students really spoke to me. I could be a part of something that facilitates a space for students to find themselves – where they can pursue friendships, leadership roles, and gain experiences that will help catapult them into their careers. Maybe a student will be able to find a friend or be able to create an organization that aligns with their passions. Whatever it is, being able to have a hand in that is…well, it’s an incredible gift. It’s nice to be a part of something that gives people a reason to ring the bell each day.
What is something about your job that you wish other people knew?
There are couple that I would love to share. One of them is a resource called “Involvement Ambassadors.” These are student leaders who dedicate their time and talents to help coach other students on how to get involved on campus. They hold one-on-one meetings with peers where they learn about a student’s hopes, including what hope to get out of being involved, and help coach them through ways to increase their campus involvement. It’s makes involvement more approachable and provides graduating students the space to mentor underclassmen—a great bookend to all of their experiences by passing on what they learned to another student.
Something else I would love other staff to know about my job is our department is expanding the resources for student organization advisors. For example, if you are a faculty member across campus and need help advising a student group, we can either develop or connect you to the appropriate resources to support you in your work. One specific resource is an ongoing advisors roundtable for advisors discuss solutions to lingering questions and get updates about upcoming programs.
If someone wanted to partner with you, what would they reach out to you about?
Our office takes a lot of pride in being a campus partner. If you have any questions about student involvement, resources for advisors, community building or want to learn how to help the leadership of an organization grow, we can help. We could organize a program for your resident assistants to help the students on their floor get involved or help your student connect with an Involvement Ambassador. Each semester we coordinate the Involvement Fair for students to learn about the organizations that they can join. Staff and faculty are welcome to attend to see all the opportunities students have to get involved. That way, when a student comes to a staff member asking about how to get involved, staff know what direction to point them in to connect with a group or start their own!
If you had to describe one word to describe your experience here, what would it be?
I would say “learning.” Each day I am learning something new. Whether it is how to continue to grow as a supervisor or how to do get better at my job, I am trying my best to be a sponge to soak up all the learning opportunities here. I am always learning.
Any advice for newer staff or things that you’d like to share?
I feel like we have so many opportunities to grow and learn here, so I would recommend saying “yes” when you can. Sign up to help or make a point to attend that division-wide event. I can’t tell you the number of times an idea or solution came about while discussing with colleagues at division-wide events. I might be biased because of the office I work in, but there is a lot of support to do that here—to attend things that help me in turn find ways to feel connected to the success of my department and the Division of Student Affairs.
What’s the coolest thing you have ever done and why?
I got to be front row of a show to see Robert Plant. I grew up a huge Led Zeppelin fan and it ended up being the perfect concert. I don’t think any other concert will be able to beat it: very cheap tickets, my dream artist/concert, perfect standing section in the front row. It was awesome not only because I grew up listening to them, but this guy is living history.