What does working in student activities entail?
It entails [enhancing] the out-of-classroom experience for students. So really thinking about clubs and organizations and supporting them — in addition to Greek life. We help students plan programs, whether that’s thinking about a topic, executing it, helping them get the things they need, or connecting them with different offices. Also, providing leadership opportunities for students so they can be successful not only at Hamilton, but also when they graduate.
What is something you learned that you will bring to Hamilton?
I think the first thing is the notion of being open and transparent. Being new here is a blessing and a curse … with certain things, I think I can definitely bring a lot of knowledge and experience. But also, if we’re working with students or faculty or staff and they have questions, not being afraid to say [that] I may not know what that answer is, or let me get back to you on that. So, being transparent, letting people know what I am capable of and what I do know, but also being flexible to learn what needs to be learned. Those are two things that I learned are important. In the realm of higher education, being transparent lets students see you as a person. And you need to be flexible, since things can change at any time.
What about Hamilton do you anticipate being different from other places you've worked?
I first worked at SUNY Potsdam when I graduated undergrad, and I just came from the College at Mount Saint Vincent. When I think about [Mount Saint Vincent], one big difference is the size. Hamilton is larger: working with 100-plus student organizations here, I will have to learn how to navigate everything. Also, though students are engaged with their work everywhere, the dedication and high level of academic excellence will be different here. But I think it will be a positive thing to see how students manage that high academic rigor while also being very involved in co-curricular activities. Although that can be seen as a challenge, that’s something I’m definitely ready to accomplish with Tessa [Chefalo, assistant dean for student engagement], Travis [Hill, associate dean of students for campus life], and the rest of the team.
In which area(s) do you most hope to make an impact?
I want students to see us as more than just student activities or student engagement. I want them to have a home and a sense of belonging when they walk into Sadove [Student Center]. These are your four years of college, and it should be the best time of your life — but at the end of the day, knowing that you belong and feel comfortable is very important to me. So that’s one thing I’m hoping students can take away when they interact with me or the people in our office or when they attend events. I want them walking away with that sense of belonging, whether they stay for the whole event or whether they stay for five minutes in the office, feeling safe and welcome.