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Student affairs careers celebrated in October

For community directors, October is filled with many causes, including celebrating careers in student affairs. Photo courtesy of Maureen Flint

Alana Norris

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October is a month dedicated to many causes, including celebrating careers in student affairs. A career in student affairs is more than giving out free T-shirts and pizza, said Elizabeth McDonald, graduate student and community director with Housing and Residential Communities. The job is about the students and helping them along during what she said is a 
critical juncture in their lives.

“We can all remember mistakes we made while we are in college, but that is exactly why the career of student affairs exist: to help students grow and develop,” McDonald said.

To celebrate student affairs month, the Student Affairs division has been hosting webinars for students throughout the month. The final two webinars of Careers in Student Affairs Month will be held Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. and Thursday at 3 p.m. Tuesday’s webinar is called “Creating and Sustaining Inclusive Campus Communities,” and Thursday’s is called “Navigating Your NASPA (National Association of College Personnel Administrators) Membership.” Webinars are held in the seventh floor community room of Presidential Village I.

McDonald organized the webinars to inform and encourage students 
considering careers in student affairs.

“The webinars have been focused on various issues in higher education and student affairs, while also giving a wide-breadth view of the student affairs professionals,” McDonald said. “These webinars are geared to introducing new professionals and curious individuals to the field.”

After Tuesday’s webinar, a panel of UA student affairs professionals will be on hand to give insight and perspective on sustaining an inclusive campus. The panel consists of Lane McClelland from the Crossroads Community Center, Kirk Walters from Student Involvement and Lamea Shaaban from the Women’s Resource Center.

McDonald said she wants students who are considering a career in student affairs to know it is a hands-on job that takes long hours of work. However, she said the long hours lead to the creation of meaningful relationships with students and impact everyone involved.

Maureen Flint, Coordinator of Training and Professional Development, said she encourages students to talk with current professionals because they are a great resource for learning what a career in 
student affairs is really about.

“Student affairs is a really flexible career path in that if you are passionate about working with students, there is a job that fits your skill set,” she said. “Being situated at institutions of higher education, multiple perspectives are encouraged – so there really isn’t one degree that you need to have to move forward.”

McDonald says a career in student affairs is an especially good fit for people who are heavily involved in campus life during their undergraduate careers. Flint said student affairs covers anything from recreation and fitness to women’s centers and residence life.

“From my perspective, my favorite aspect of student affairs work, beyond working with students, is that there is such variety within the field; no two days look the same,” Kimberly Sterritt, associate director of housing 
administration, said.

In addition to informing students about careers in student affairs, other goals of this month are professional development for student affairs administrators as well as reflecting on the profession as a whole and looking towards the future.

“Student affairs professionals have the unique opportunity to support students, through one of the most transitional periods of their lives, to help them develop into good global citizens as they earn a degree,” Steven Hood, interim vice president for student affairs, said.

NASPA cultivated Careers in Student Affairs Month. They define themselves as “the leading association for the advancement, health and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Our work provides high-quality professional development, advocacy and research for 13,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries and eight U.S. 
territories.”

Flint said a career in student affairs is an immensely rewarding profession.

“You have the chance to make change, to make an impact in the lives of students, and to have a positive influence in the community and the world around you,” Flint said. “It’s work that is purposeful and thoughtful. There’s also a wonderful community of professionals and colleagues, and it’s a profession that inherently supports your growth as an individual.”

McDonald said she finds it rewarding to watch the transformations students make during their time at school as they grow, develop and flourish.

“The most rewarding part of this job is seeing students grow from their mistakes to become well-prepared adults to take on the world after they graduate,” she said.

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Student affairs careers celebrated in October