Student Affairs Alumni

Dan Carney, 2016 graduate 

Current occupation: In my role as a community coordinator at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), I directly oversee two first-year residential hall communities with over 500 freshmen students. In this role, I am in charge of 10 resident’s advisors and work directly with our faculty in residence who also lives in the housing community. In addition to my role, I oversee programming, host programming, meet with students in distress and crisis, serve on the on-call rotation for after hours, and serve as a conduct hearing officer.

Future goals:

  • In the next 5 years, I hope to become some type of assistant director in an office. In addition, I hope to begin my journey towards an Ed.D.
  • In 20 years, I hope to become an administrator who is able to stay grounded in the work of Student Affairs, truly focused on student’s success and equity and inclusion. I would say this position would be something like a Dean of Students or a director in an office or specific area.

What do you believe is most rewarding about serving a role in student affairs? The most rewarding part of my job is being able to help students find success. At CSUF, our student population is highly represented with first-gen students and many are students of color. These students have to overcome a plethora of barriers just to get into the classroom. My goal is to help them be successful, support them when times are hard, help them cross that stage, and accomplish their dreams. The most rewarding part of my work has been the opportunity to be able to watch those students accomplish their goals.

Advice for prospective students considering Iowa State Student Affairs: The program is one of the best in the country, I highly recommend it! I would encourage these students to truly seek out the many opportunities that Iowa State offers from internships, practica, to research. Iowa State’s program is truly a theory to practice program, so ask the difficult questions, not only in the classroom, but also in your assistantship. This truly helped me during my time at Iowa State and I continue to do this in my work.

Recommendations for students just starting the program: Find a support network. Graduate school was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. I was lucky to have such a strong support network of friends and family. I found my people in the program who helped push me to achieve and reach higher. I also found folks who were outside the program who could help me when I just needed to take a step away from higher education.

Recommendations for students preparing to graduate: As you prepare for graduate education, push yourself.  For me, this was looking into programs that were difficult and outside my comfort zone. The most learning happens when you are uncomfortable.

Jillian Cross, 2014 graduate

Current occupation:

  • Assistant Director of Residence Education at North Carolina Central University: My primary responsibilities include: overseeing all living learning communities on campus, overseeing the Faculty in Residence program, administering and managing the residential curriculum for 13 residence halls, and overseeing the assessment and evaluation for the entire department.
  • Founder and Executive Director of Hope Her Way, Inc: Hope Her Way is a registered 501 c3 non-profit organization with a mission to help low-income single parents get to college. We offer an eight week pre-college program designed to provide individualized services and resources that prepare our clients to successfully gain acceptance into their desired degree program. 

Future goals?:

  • 5 years: I am currently applying to doctoral programs in Higher Education. In five years, I hope to be finishing up my doctoral degree and applying for faculty positions. Additionally, I hope to continue expanding Hope Her Way and helping as many low-income single parents achieve their educational goals as possible.
  • 20 years: Honestly, I try not to make concrete plans that far ahead in life. I do know that in 20 years I will still be serving others, working in education, and being a devoted mom. I’ll likely write more books too.

What do you believe is most rewarding about serving a role in student affairs? Seeing the students grow and find their place in the world and knowing that you had a part in their development.

Advice for prospective students considering Iowa State Student Affairs: It’ll be the best decision you ever made! The program has world class faculty that genuinely care about each student and are highly invested in the field of student affairs. I really enjoyed the cohort style approach because I was able to build strong relationships with my peers. I also appreciated the program’s emphasis on ensuring that students get practical experience in addition to what you learn in the classroom. I left the program well equipped to be a scholar practitioner. Lastly, this program has one of the best funding packages in the country which really helps to alleviate the financial burdens associated with graduate school. The student affairs program at Iowa State is amazing!

Recommendations for students just starting the program: To students just beginning the program I would say take advantage all of the resources available to you in and outside of the program. Be strategic about your practicum experiences so that they align with your ultimate career goals. Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Also, get to know your professors because they are very knowledgeable and helpful. Lastly, embrace self-care and make time for fun!

Recommendations for students preparing to graduate: Start looking for a job early. Have trusted people review your resume and do mock interviews. If you are continuing your education start that process early as well. Maintain relationships with the faculty because you never know when you might need them in the future.

(Photo credit: North Carolina Central University)

Aaron Freland, 2013 graduate

Current occupation: I am a manager of academic advising at the University of Wyoming (UW). My role in the College of Arts at Sciences at UW includes overseeing our advising center and supervising four senior academic advisors and one office associate. Additionally, I advise first-year and transfer students studying biology, botany, physiology, wildlife and fisheries biology management, and zoology. I meet with students to discuss academic plans, career goals, and concerns. I’m pleased to be part of a new professional advising initiative/model at UW. The department I oversee was formed in May 2018.

What do you believe is most rewarding about serving a role in student affairs? Every 30 minutes (in my office) brings a new student with a new story to tell. Helping students become their best and having colleagues share in this common goal is most rewarding. Student affairs is filled with energetic, innovative, and caring professionals!  

Advice for prospective students considering Iowa State Student Affairs: I most enjoyed the cohort model and having an assistantship to develop my skills and competencies on the professional side. Both of these are important in developing a strong understanding of theory to practice. The Iowa State student affairs alumni “network” is always highly regarded and delivers impressive results!

Recommendations for students just starting the program: Get connected from day one! I was surrounded by a community of support with great classmates, faculty, staff, and community members. Don’t be afraid to ask for help—you’ll find that someone else likely has the same questions or feelings. I was most concerned about developing solid academic writing and research/assessment skills, but the program’s curriculum structure prepared me well.

Recommendations for students preparing to graduate: Finishing the program and job searching is exciting! As you prepare to enter the job market, remember to use what you learned as a lens to approach your work. Be mindful and respect processes and procedures in place at your new employer until you have established relationships and fully understand the organization.    

(Photo credit: University of Wyoming)

Carter Kruckenberg, 2016 graduate

Current occupation: I work as an academic coordinator and student-athlete development specialist at North Dakota State University. In this role I am tasked with meeting with student-athletes individually each week and coordinating their academic responsibilities for the week. I also have the opportunity to design and implement student development program for our student-athletes centered on character development, career enhancement and community involvement.

Future goals: I am currently working on my M.S. in health, nutrition and exercise science, and eventually I plan on pursuing a doctorate degree. In the short term, my goal is to develop high-impact, intentional programming and educational opportunities for student-athletes and continue to make North Dakota State athletics notable in both athletic accomplishment and academic success.

What do you believe is most rewarding about serving a role in student affairs? Watching the development of students year-to-year has been a very rewarding process for me. I enjoy being there when they transition to college, as well as when they find their place, develop a sense of belonging and begin consideration opportunities for their futures.

Advice for prospective students considering Iowa State Student Affairs: Go into the process understanding that your individual voice and values will influence you classmates. You will be co-constructing a learning space where some of the best professors in the country with challenge and support your growth as a scholar and a practitioner.

Recommendations for students just starting the program: When beginning, become immersed in the material, challenge yourself to grind everyday as you learn insights that will inform your daily job performance down the road.

Recommendations for students preparing to graduate: As you beginning preparing to search for a job, clearly articulate what you seek the most. For me, the job location, professional opportunities, and student population where the defining factors in selecting the position I took at the University of Alabama. 

Maggie Miller, 2013 graduate

Current occupation: I currently work as an area coordinator in housing & residential life at South Dakota State University. In my position, I supervise five full-time professional residence hall directors and one graduate assistant focused on retention/student success initiatives. I really enjoy my role for many reasons—primarily that each day is different, I have the opportunity to interact with many different entities on campus, and that I get to work with and oversee an amazing team. I work with student conduct, student staff selection and training, professional staff development, crisis management, and many other things. Although working in housing can be tiring, it is mostly very fulfilling! I have learned that there is a lot to learn as a middle manager, which is exciting. I am beginning my fourth year in this role and continue to learn an incredible amount each year.

Future goals: In five years, I’d like to be working on my doctorate. I have really enjoyed the time working and getting a ton of practical experience, but my passion still lies in an academic role. TBD on what that will actually look like! In the meantime, I continue to learn in my current role.

What do you believe is most rewarding about serving a role in student affairs? In housing, we are able to engage with such a variety of impactful areas (conduct, crisis management, staff hiring, staff training, etc.), that I feel it is 1) never dull and 2) there is always a positive impact to be made. While some of the most challenging moments have occurred in the area of crisis management, it is actually an area I find the biggest rewards in terms of personal growth and community impact. In my current role, supervising a team of professionals is where I find the biggest joy and impact—I am passionate about helping young/new professionals learn and succeed in the field.

Advice for prospective students considering Iowa State Student Affairs: I had an excellent experience overall and Ames is a fantastic community! I made great friends just in the community who really impacted my life. Perhaps the biggest factor to consider is that ISU provides amazing training both academically and practically. There have been countless times in my career thus far when my degree/training have proven invaluable and helped me approach many complex issues effectively.

Recommendations for students just starting the program: My advice is to recognize that the master’s program goes fast, so be sure to soak up as many opportunities and experiences as you can. I also recommend keeping all your graduate school textbooks, as it is extremely helpful to have a bookshelf full of resources once you begin a full-time position.

Recommendations for students preparing to graduate: My best advice for people entering a practitioner role is to try to look for a good supervisor above all other criteria. I see a lot of people look for a “dream job” on paper, but you will be far happier with what you are doing if you work for and with good people.

(Photo credit: South Dakota State University Marketing & Communications)

Corey Peacock, 2013 graduate

Current occupation: I am a mid-level professional in Residence Life [at University of Wyoming]. In my role I supervise full-time and graduate live-in staff, and provide leadership and direction to our residence education unit. Within my unit I am in charge of all selection and training activities. I am also active in our campus’ student conduct and crisis management processes, as we work collaboratively to enforce community standards and promote student well-being.

Future goals: I just began work toward a doctoral degree in higher education, so a big goal for the next five years would be to complete my program. I am interested in researching student retention and persistence, particularly among minoritized populations. In terms of long-term career goals, I see myself either advancing within the Residence Life field (potentially as a director), or moving over to the Dean of Students/student conduct realm.  I enjoy being an administrator and working behind the scenes to help shape the type of university that truly works for all students.

What do you believe is most rewarding about serving a role in student affairs? Easily the most rewarding element of working in student affairs is having front row seats to watch the amazing growth and development of the students with whom I have the privilege of working.  I feel so fortunate to be part of an industry that is focused on making people better, and making society better by extension. Though student affairs can be stressful, often thankless, and perpetually busy, there is never a shortage of meaning and purpose to be found in the work we do.

Advice for prospective students considering Iowa State Student Affairs: Look no further! ISU is a great program with stellar faculty, and a great way to start (or continue) your career in student affairs. You will learn how to be a scholar in the field of higher education, but will also be pushed to understand and be a part of the practical side of the field as well. This blended approach will position you to go wherever you’d like in the field after you complete the program.

Recommendations for students just starting the program: I would recommend those just beginning graduate education to believe in yourself. As a first-generation college student, graduate study was completely foreign to me, and my feelings of imposter syndrome during my first semester were strong. Remember that we admitted you to the program because you earned your place, and you are smart enough and good enough to succeed. My more specific tips would be: put some time into learning how to speed read/skim articles, make sure to build connections with the faculty while you are at ISU, and try not to let your assistantship consume your life – your quest for balance starts today.

Recommendations for students preparing to graduate: I say congratulations! Many of you are likely entering the job market and are looking to start your full-time careers within student affairs.  As someone who hires entry-level master’s candidates, I have a few pieces of advice as you navigate this process:

  1. Know what you want in your job search (location, institution type, position, etc.) and make sure you only apply for jobs that match this criteria. Knowing what you want will take a lot of self-reflection, which you should start doing now.
  2. You are likely more connected to and current on literature and scholarship in the field than your interviewers, but they have more practical experience. Both are valuable, but know that many interviewers will value your practical experiences above your theoretical knowledge.
  3. Keep a list of specific examples of experiences you’ve had, decisions you’ve made, projects you’ve coordinated, and accomplishes you’ve earned. Employers want to hear about what you have done, not what you would do. ISU has prepared you with a wealth of practical experiences in your time in the program – don’t be afraid to tell us about them!

Yvette Rodriguez, 2016 graduate

Current occupation: I am currently the assistant director of programming in the multicultural student programs and services at the University of Notre Dame. I primarily put out fires, first and foremost (kidding but not kidding). Communications for our office, advising student groups, student support, teach a first year seminar, plan and teach a class called “Power, Privilege, and Oppression: Historical Contexts and Current Effects.” The great thing about working at an institution smaller than ISU is that I’ve been able to many trainings and other “extras,” such as serving as a conduct officer, a resource coordinator for students going through the Title IX process, and serving on various committees. I feel that these experiences are helping me be well-rounded and grow my skill set and professional toolkit.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 20? I’m really open to all of the possibilities. I think there’s a lot of pressure in our field to have your career path planned out and/or to rush to get a terminal degree. However, the more I learn about myself the more my thoughts change about what the future could look like for me.

What do you believe is most rewarding about serving a role in student affairs? The most rewarding thing about student affairs is being able to challenge and support students who will eventually make the world a better place.  

Advice for prospective students considering Iowa State Student Affairs: Iowa State is one of the best student affairs programs in the nation. ISU alumni are doing so many great things in the field and are often keynotes at national conferences I attend.

What would you recommend to students who are just beginning their graduate education? To students who are preparing to graduate? Only compare yourself to the person you were yesterday. You will get out of the program what you put in, so be sure to challenge yourself and put forth your best effort. Your future self and your future employer will thank you.