SAA Celebrates Careers in Student Affairs Month

The month of October is Careers in Student Affairs Month (CSAM). An initiative through NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA), the month-long celebration is dedicated to education and awareness in the profession, as well as engagement with professional associations and peers in the field.

The Reich College of Education’s Department of Human Development and Psychological Counseling houses the Student Affairs Administration program. 

“Careers in Student Affairs Month invites those interested in the field to learn more about working in administrative roles on college and university campuses and encourages those of us already in the field to celebrate the contributions we make to support students and institutions and consider how to advance our research and practice,” said Dr. Sonja Ardoin, associate professor and program director. 

“The Student Affairs Administration master’s program welcomes the yearly opportunity to share our mission of ‘preparing reflective scholar-practitioners to work in various areas of student affairs to serve students and institutions of higher education through collaborative, equitable, and inclusive practice’ with others,” she noted.

Meet a few of the students currently enrolled in the program and learn why they chose careers in student affairs.

Hannah Huff

Hannah Huff

Hannah Huff, from Raleigh, North Carolina, is a graduate assistant in Advising and Orientation for App State’s University College. She earned her B.S. in psychology with a concentration in human services from App State in 2019, and she is anticipated to graduate with her master’s degree in May 2022.

Why App State and why a degree in student affairs administration?

“I chose to return to App State because it holds a special place in my heart. I had established connections here, and I knew from all the research of other schools and programs I did that App State was the place for me to continue my education. I chose a degree in Student Affairs Administration because it allows me to further develop my helping skills and utilize my background in human services in a way that lends itself to becoming a well-rounded professional with a broad knowledge of how to help students based on where they find themselves along their developmental, educational, and professional journey.”

What drew you to choose your assistantship?

“Prior experience with Peer Advising and an interest in being an Orientation Leader during my undergraduate experience.” 

What is something meaningful that you have learned from your assistantship? 

“Advising theory and tailoring my advising practice to help each student based on their individual needs.”

How has your assistantship helped you to feel more prepared to become a full-time Student Affairs professional?

“My assistantship has helped me to feel more prepared to become a full-time Student Affairs professional through getting valuable practical experience in two functional areas (advising and orientation). I have also been able to establish connections with professionals in other offices and departments on campus through my work with making referrals and collaboration.”

What is one piece of advice you would share with someone interested in the student affairs administration program and/or a career in student affairs?

“Stay open-minded and don't be afraid to try new things. This field is full of opportunities in several different areas and you never know where you will find an interest.” 

Landon Judy

Landon Judy

Landon Judy, from Pfafftown, North Carolina, works as a residence director for App State’s University Housing as his graduate assistantship. He earned his B.S. in history, social studies education from App State in 2020, and he is anticipated to graduate with his master’s degree in May 2022.

Why App State and why a degree in student affairs administration?

“Because I love this university, and I love getting to know students and helping them find their passions.”

What drew you to choose your assistantship?

“I was a Resident Assistant as an undergraduate student and loved it! I wanted to take the next step forward.”

What is something meaningful that you have learned from your assistantship? 

“Everyone has a story - learn from it, embrace it, and cherish it.”

How has your assistantship helped you to feel more prepared to become a full-time Student Affairs professional?

“By having on-the-job experience and working directly with students, I feel very prepared to do this professionally and full time.”

What is one piece of advice you would share with someone interested in the student affairs administration program and/or a career in student affairs? 

“Do it! If you have an inkling that this is an area of passion, go for it! You won't regret it.”

Emily Nasal

Emily Nasal

Emily Nasal, from Buffalo, New York, works as a graduate assistant for Clubs and Organizations in App State’s Campus Activities. She earned a B.A. in linguistics from SUNY Oswego in 2020, and she is anticipated to graduate with a master’s degree in May 2022.

Why a degree in student affairs administration?

“I wanted to move to North Carolina, and I like working in a college environment.”

What drew you to choose your assistantship?

“I was heavily involved in undergrad with different clubs and organizations, and this seemed like a good fit.”

What is your favorite part of your assistantship?

“Constant communication with students, planning events.”

How has your assistantship helped you to feel more prepared to become a full-time Student Affairs professional? 

“I have gained a lot of real-world experience through this position that will apply directly to my future professional work. I will leave the program in May as a well rounded, prepared graduate.”

What is one piece of advice you would share with someone interested in the student affairs administration program and/or a career in student affairs?

“Find an experience-based program - one that sets you with real experience so you're ready to hit the ground running once you graduate and get your first job.”

Katelyn Neeley

Katelyn Neeley

Katelyn Neeley, from Loganville, Georgia, works in App State’s University Housing with Student Leadership as her graduate assistantship. She earned a B.A. in mass communication, concentration in strategic communication from Georgia College & State University in 2021, and she is anticipated to graduate with a master’s degree in May 2023.

Why a degree in student affairs administration?

“I have lived in Georgia my entire life, so I wanted the opportunity to move out of state for grad school. Appalachian gave me the means to do that, and I was interested in all of the benefits the program had to offer as well as small class sizes at a well-ranked institution in a beautiful place.”

What drew you to choose your assistantship?

“I was involved in the housing organizations that I currently advise, so I was initially interested in seeing those organizations from the different perspective of an advisor instead of an undergraduate student.”

What is your favorite part of your assistantship?

“My supervisor is amazing, and my students are the best part of my job. They have great ideas and skills that make them incredible student leaders and they do so much for our student populations here at App!”

How has your assistantship helped you to feel more prepared to become a full-time Student Affairs professional? 

“It has helped me understand the direction and functional areas I would want to pursue and has helped me in several ways concerning professional development. I was never good at having difficult conversations, but my assistantship has encouraged me to be comfortable with the uncomfortable and to make strides in my own personal growth concerning confrontation and difficult discussions.”

What is one piece of advice you would share with someone interested in the student affairs administration program and/or a career in student affairs?

“From my personal experience, be prepared for long, busy days sometimes. The work done in this field can be challenging, and there will inevitably be pushback no matter the functional area, but the work is so rewarding and you really have a chance to make an impact on the lives of students, peers, and colleagues.”

Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith

Jordan Smith, from Durham, North Carolina, works in App State’s Campus Activities as her graduate assistantship. She earned a B.A. in history and American studies and middle school education from William Peace University in 2020, and she is anticipated to graduate with a master’s degree in May 2023.

Why a degree in student affairs administration?

“I chose App State because I love the mountains and the small feeling of the program. I also spoke to alumni about their experience, and it sounded like the right fit for me. I chose student affairs because I want to work in Campus Activities or Orientation in the future.”

What drew you to choose your assistantship?

“I really enjoyed working in campus activities in my undergrad and wanted more experience in working in it at a larger school.”

What is your favorite part of your assistantship?

“The staff and students I get to work with every day.”

How has your assistantship helped you to feel more prepared to become a full-time Student Affairs professional? 

“Campus Activities has never held back on giving me things to do and that hands-on experience has really helped me.”

What is one piece of advice you would share with someone interested in the student affairs administration program and/or a career in student affairs?

“Say yes to as many things as you can but also know your limits.”

Lisabeth Stewart

Lisabeth Stewart

Lisabeth Stewart, from Baltimore, Maryland, works as a residence director for App State’s University Housing as her graduate assistantship. She earned a B.S. in biology from St. Mary's College of Maryland in 2020, and she is anticipated to graduate with a master’s degree in May 2022.

Why a degree in student affairs administration?

“I came to App State for the mountains and nature, as well as all of the practical experiences that the SAA program here offers. I chose to study student affairs administration due to my passion for student development and learning, and I love seeing students grow in independence and discover their passions.”

What drew you to choose your assistantship?

“I was drawn to work with housing due to the high amount of student interactions. I love being able to advise my hall council, supervise my RAs, and help and support my residents.”

How has your assistantship helped you to feel more prepared to become a full-time Student Affairs professional? 

“I feel prepared to become a full-time professional because of all the time and investment that my supervisors have poured into me and helped me to critically think about decisions being made and how to handle myriad situations.”

What is one piece of advice you would share with someone interested in the student affairs administration program and/or a career in student affairs?

“I would recommend that they make time for themselves and do things without work or school that they enjoy. It is so easy to be consumed by the work, so don't forget to keep following your other passions and participate in your hobbies!”

Dalton Stroup

Dalton Stroup

Dalton Stroup, from Charlotte, North Carolina, works as a residence director for App State’s University Housing as his graduate assistantship. He earned his B.S. in business administration with a concentration in hospitality and tourism from App State in 2021, and he is anticipated to graduate with his master’s degree in May 2023.

Why a degree in student affairs administration?

“I decided to pursue Student Affairs because of all of my work in the field as an undergrad student, working as a Resident Assistant (RA), a member of the Appalachian Popular Programming Society, the Student Coordinator for the 2019 Homecoming Parade, being president of two student organizations, and so much more. I loved the student life aspect of college and helping other undergrad students grow as leaders and individuals outside of the classroom.”

What drew you to choose your assistantship?

“As an RA, I had an amazing supervisor my second and third year who believed in me and told me that I could be an amazing Residence Director. I also could see myself working in the field of housing after grad school and wanted to get a better understanding of the responsibilities of a housing professional in order to learn what I liked and disliked about the field. Finally, the opportunity to directly supervise undergrad students and help them develop as humans and leaders was too much to pass up. There is nothing more rewarding than helping my staff members grow and being a part of their lives through the ups and downs.”

What is your favorite part of your assistantship?

“My staff! Getting to know eight students on a personal level and coaching them through a year of experiences that most of them have not even seen since coming to college is a challenge but also a rewarding experience. I get to see the excitement that they have for college and help them navigate things like classes, floor programs, internships, graduation, and so much more.”

How has your assistantship helped you to feel more prepared to become a full-time Student Affairs professional? 

“My assistantship has shown me the level of work and dedication it takes to work in this field. Being a Student Affairs professional is a lot of hard work with students not always showing appreciation for the effort you put into them. However, seeing students succeed, even with little victories, is the best reward you can get.”

What is one piece of advice you would share with someone interested in the student affairs administration program and/or a career in student affairs?

“Be passionate and engaging but take time for yourself as well. If you are not interested in developing students and working hard to do so, this is not the field for you. Long hours do not matter when you are passionate about impacting the lives of your students, but taking breaks for mental and physical health are essential for being successful. I tell my staff all the time that they can not pour into their residents if their cups are empty.”

Sarah Whaley

Sarah Whaley

Sarah Whaley, from Kernersville, North Carolina, is a graduate assistant with the Early Intervention Team in App State’s Office of Student Success. She earned her B.S. in psychology with a concentration in human services from App State in 2020, and she is anticipated to graduate with her master’s degree in May 2022.

Why App State and why a degree in student affairs administration?

“I chose AppState because I knew they had a solid program that was based on theory to practice. I chose Student Affairs because I have always had a passion for education but I know that for a campus to fully serve its students they have to look at them holistically. Student Affairs provides that support and lens to a university's campus so I knew it was a good fit for me.”

What drew you to choose your assistantship? 

“I have a passion for meeting people where they are during their low points in life. The Early Intervention Team allows me to do that because students are referred to us due to a concern about them from a faculty or staff member. It is my job to help document that, work with students to meet with our team, and educate them on their resources on our campus as well as our community. I also get to work closely with the Office of Student Success serving students who are on or about to be on academic probation which directly connects with the work that I do mainly with EIT.”

What is your favorite part of your assistantship?

“I love when I can help students understand that we are a supportive service on campus that is genuinely there to help them succeed. Once that realization happens it helps the student to gain a new perspective of our campus and help them feel that they are not just a number. We reach out to students because we care!!”

What is something meaningful that you have learned from your assistantship?

“Something meaningful that I have learned is being connected with faculty and staff members on campus that serve on our team. This is a completely volunteer-based team so being able to see individuals give up their time to serve our students is something that is unique to our campus. The work that we do is meaningful but it cannot be done without our faithful volunteers.”

How has your assistantship helped you to feel more prepared to become a full-time Student Affairs professional?

“I have been connected with different people across campus who have helped me grow individually and personally during my graduate career. The work that I do has helped me understand the importance of organization and student support. With all of these in mind, I know how to be on the lookout for a student in need and be able to connect them with the resources or support that is offered by the campus or myself.”

What is one piece of advice you would share with someone interested in the student affairs administration program and/or a career in student affairs?

“This is a great degree to have if you are interested in multiple things and like flexibility but also have a passion for education. I chose this because I had so many interests and since this is a diverse field I was able to find multiple areas that I would like to work in. You have room to grow and change when you want or need which is something that I value.”


student affairs administration students
Published: Oct 26, 2021 11:32am

Tags: