Class of 2016
Community Director, Residence Education and Housing Services
Michigan State University
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Student Affairs Administration (SAA) program and how it prepared me to be a student affairs professional. The theory-to-practice approach the program is based around provided me with theoretical and practical skills in student development theory, organizational development, law, higher education finance, assessment, and various best practices in student affairs. Along with the challenging curriculum, the program’s cohort approach provided me with a diverse group of individuals to challenge, support, and pour into me as a person and professional. The combination of the program’s design, curriculum, faculty, and cohort approach all contributed to my overall learning and success, which grew me both personally and professionally.
While I was involved in various student affairs functions as an undergraduate, it was through the SAA program and my assistantship in Residence Education and Housing Services where I learned what it meant to be a student affairs educator and to focus on student success. Specifically, the program’s design taught me how to use theory, assessment, and student affairs best practices to design, implement, and assess programs and services to enhance student learning and success. During the program, there are multiple opportunities (e.g., class projects, practicums, assistantships, internships) to apply concrete aspects of various courses to develop and enhance student affairs administration skills. Specifically, I used my assistantship in the Office of Vice President for Student Affairs and Services as an opportunity to do assessment and planning, which culminated in the creation of a Parents Resource Center website. Overall, the SAA program’s faculty works diligently to ensure students have whatever opportunity they need to apply their skills and engage in meaningful experiences while in the program.
As I look forward to beginning my professional career in student affairs, I feel confident that I have the tools and knowledge to be successful in my new position and engage in meaningful work that promotes student learning and success.
Community Director, Housing & Dining Programs
As I reflect on the last two years, I feel very fortunate to have been part of such a transformative experience at MSU. As an adult returner, I took a very intentional career break in which I wanted to focus on learning theory, understanding different environments, and considering what my future career path could look like. The SAA program not only provided those opportunities but also thoroughly challenged me in the way I thought about them.
Throughout the last two years I laughed, I learned, I was frustrated, I was in awe of people, I cried. My assistantship, my practica, the interactions with faculty, MSU staff, colleagues in ACPA, and my peers all made for learning in a living lab of student affairs. I seized so many opportunities provided at MSU and in professional organizations and through a solid network that I feel well equipped to tackle different issues in various functional areas.
As an international student, I was a long way from home and sometimes a long way from understanding institutional, geographical, and cultural norms. I feel the program provided me with a unique insight into U.S. education, and I am excited to see where it will take me in the long run.
Assistant Director, Harvard Pre-College Program
When I began the graduate school search, I asked myself the following question: Can I see myself waking up every morning at this institution feeling content? After visiting Michigan State University’s Student Affairs Administration program, the answer was a simple yes! The diverse minds and experiences, emphasis on collaboration and theory-to-practice, and hands-on application were all reasons the Student Affairs Administration program became my fit.
The cohort model brought together different individuals from around the globe. Some came straight from undergraduate while others worked with AmeriCorps, nonprofit organizations, and/or Wall Street. My cohort engaged in difficult discussions and challenged norms existing in the field of higher education. We read, discussed, challenged, and applied these theories and readings into our assistantship and practicum experiences. In addition to the challenge and support from my cohort, faculty members were invested in my growth as a learner and individual. I engaged with faculty inside and outside of the classroom and met with my advisor regularly to ensure I was receiving the experiences I wanted.
The SAA program provided me enough structure and flexibility to explore various areas through assistantships and internships at Michigan State University and other institutions. I have learned a lot about various functional areas, the political frame, student development theory, the field of higher education, and, most importantly, myself as an educator. The SAA program has been a transformational experience and I encourage you to explore what the program can do for you!
Thaddeus R. Stegall
Residential College Director
New York University Abu Dhabi
Being a member of the Student Affairs Administration program at Michigan State University CHANGED MY LIFE. The experience was humbling, inspiring, challenging, rewarding, and transformational all at once. I am particularly privileged to say that I am the recipient of such an invaluable experience that has taught me a great deal about myself, others, the world around me, and the interconnection of the three. If there were two adjectives that I would use to describe my experience in the SAA program, they would be challenging and rewarding.
Describing my experience as challenging is a slight understatement. This program challenged me in more ways than I could ever conceptualize. This experience challenged me to live, learn, lead, and impact the world through the way that I reason and make sense of the world around me, the way that I speak, the way that I carry myself, and the way that I engage with others. On the contrary, it has also challenged me to interrogate everything that I have compulsively accepted as “fact” or “universal truth” including the aforementioned ways of knowing and existing. Although the challenges were difficult, they produced growth and change. These challenges also came with various communities of support that created an environment that demands you to leave a better person, scholar, and professional than you arrived.
While the program, and the experience it has afforded me, has been exponentially rewarding, I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the contributions to my Spartan experience made by the entire College of Education and other people and entities on campus. I was fortunate to build many irreplaceable relationships with students, faculty, staff, and administration. These relationships proved to be a cornerstone to a rewarding experience and helped me throughout my time at MSU to grow into the professional I am today. This experience has taught me that relationships play an essential role in being successful in any endeavor. I have learned great power, endless possibilities, and transformative change come when working in community. The MSU community has presented me countless opportunities to not only sit at the table where decisions are made, but to also be a part of the conversation.
As a member of the #SAAucy2016 cohort I can say it has been a remarkable life-altering experience. I have had the opportunity to learn from, study with, and befriend the academic rock stars that have penned the very textbooks and articles that guide higher education and student affairs today. It has been a great roller coaster ride filled with growth, sowing, and reaping. Yes, it was an amazing experience, but I have learned it is what you make of it. So I leave you with one question: I had an OUTSTANDING SPARTAN EXPERIENCE, will YOU? Go Green!
Class of 2015
Charles Cotton III
Admissions Counselor, Honors College
Michigan State University
As a member of the Student Affairs Administration (SAA) program, I am proud to say that the program has helped me understand just how limitless knowledge is. Often as I left class, I found myself reflecting upon the comments and various perspectives of my cohort and faculty. The constant engagement in dialogue with my peers and faculty allowed me to find different ways to approach situations. Having the opportunity to learn and grow with people from various parts of the United States, and the world, allowed me to see just how much there is to learn. Being able to take into account the various perspectives around me has enabled me to be a better student affairs professional than I would have ever imagined.
Not only did the class discussions foster mental expansion but also the other various components to the SAA program. Having the opportunity to complete practicums at different institutions, participate in a graduate assistantship, teach an undergraduate leadership class, and connect with members of my cohort outside of the classroom all aided in my development as a student affairs professional and as a person.
I wake up inspired everyday just knowing that there are so many people out there who have graduated from the SAA program doing fantastic work within education. I find the great achievements of my peers to be a motivator for me to continue advocating and supporting students through the various avenues prescribed to me during my time in the SAA program. I go to work every day knowing that I am better prepared to help students, thanks to the many opportunities afforded to me as a member of the Spartan family. Go Green!
Student Success Coach
I am incredibly grateful for my time in the SAA program, as I received a true 360 degree experience. The SAA program did not just train me for a job; the SAA program shaped my identity as an educator, taught me how to articulate my professional goals, and facilitated my individual growth. The program is designed to aid each student in figuring out their strengths and interests to understand how we, as student affairs professionals, contribute to the higher education community.
The theory-to-practice structure of the program is invaluable. Faculty and peers challenged me to understand student development and organizational theory, which I could then apply to my practicum and assistantship. I had a myriad of practicum experiences, which not only guided me through understanding theory from different perspectives, but was also a great benefit to have in my job search.
Perhaps most importantly, I was never alone on my SAA journey. With a cohort model and caring faculty, the SAA program has a built-in support system to ensure success inside and outside the classroom. I always had peers, advisors, and supervisors to turn to and help me navigate my experience.
The SAA program helped shaped not only who I am as a student affairs professional, but who I am as a person. For that, I am remarkably thankful.
Violence Prevention Coordinator at Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE)
University of California, Irvine
From the first time I stepped foot on Michigan State's campus for Spartan Preview Days, I knew I wanted to be part of the SAA family. I felt connected to the campus, to the faculty, and to current and future students. Since I've begun my first full-time professional position, I have realized how the SAA program and my time in Michigan has shaped how I navigate the field of student affairs and higher education. I learned a lot about advocating for myself, navigating political environments, creating effective partnerships with faculty and staff, and how to continue to develop my critical consciousness.
The piece of advice I would give students in the SAA program is to make the most of your experience. Being an SAA student at Michigan State gives you access to incredible faculty, research teams, amazing researchers from around the country, model student affairs departments, and a cohort family like no other. Say yes to opportunities, spend time making real connections with people, challenge yourself, and explore all the beauty that the state of Michigan has to offer!
Community Director, Residential Education
University of Arizona
When I reflect on my time in the Student Affairs Administration program, I think first about my experience at Spartan Preview Days. I found the MSU faculty, staff, and students that I met to be genuine, honest, and committed to my personal and professional success. These feelings persisted throughout my two years in the program, and I am truly grateful for the opportunities I was able to take advantage of. The faculty in the program are excellent, and their diverse research interests and areas of expertise provide numerous avenues for students to explore. I specifically appreciated my relationship with my faculty advisor, who afforded me tremendous support in matters both personal and academic and helped make MSU feel more like home.
Additionally, I think the SAA program at MSU does an incredible job of utilizing the cohort-based program. The required professional development course that students take each semester helps develop a cohort that is certainly supportive and fun, but also able to engage in dialogue about important topics facing our profession and society. It was a true pleasure learning and growing with and from my peers as we challenged each other through these dialogues, and I know that my cohort is going to maintain our bond long after graduation.
The SAA program helped me explore and develop my own identities, and also aided in the establishment of my values as a student affairs professional. I graduated feeling affirmed in my decision to attend MSU and with a strong sense of pride for my peers. I would recommend the SAA program to anyone looking to critically analyze and apply theory while participating in an environment rooted in support and growth.
Student Affairs Coordinator
American University of Phnom Penh, Cambodia
My favorite component of the SAA program is the ability to learn broadly about the field of student affairs, challenge your own interests, gain new experiences, and prepare yourself to work in your functional area of choice. Within the first semester, the program focuses on introducing you widely to the field of student affairs and the many different functional areas. Both during the first semester and throughout the program, faculty and advisors encourage you to take new opportunities, often in areas you may have not considered exploring previously. By learning about the field overall and the variety of opportunities, I was able to think about my identity as a student affairs professional and what I valued in the field and in my future work. When entering the program, I was unsure of the specific area in which I wanted to work in the future. However, the program helped me begin to articulate what interests me most about the field and where I believe my biggest contributions can be. After determining that I wanted to work in education abroad, I was able to take advantage of the flexibility within the curriculum and found the opportunity to internationalize the curriculum for myself by strategically choosing projects and practicum experiences that would give me both transferrable skills and direct experience in my functional area of choice. Overall, the program has a strong focus on ensuring every student has a base knowledge about the field of student affairs, while simultaneously assisting students in cultivating skills and knowledge in new and pre-existing functional areas in which they are passionate about.
Class of 2014
Assistant Director, Office of Undergraduate Research
University of Missouri
I knew I wanted to return to graduate school and pursue an advanced degree studying postsecondary education. I was a little nervous about the prospect of “going back” but when I visited MSU during Spartan Preview Days, I knew MSU was a perfect fit. The faculty were supportive, encouraging, and challenging, but I always felt that they treated me like a colleague. In addition, the SAA program provided me with a plethora of opportunities to explore my interests. Through my classes, assistantship experiences, practicum experiences, research projects, and my interactions with faculty and peers, I went home each night amazed at how much learning could occur in such a short period of time. The SAA program helped me forge my identity as a student affairs professional, utilize my knowledge to intentionally develop programming that maximized student learning and development, and prepare to re-enter the professional environment as a scholar-practitioner. My MSU experience was truly transformational.
The best piece of advice I can give to students in the SAA program is to go for it. If there is something that interests you, go after it. MSU SAA faculty will challenge you with extremely high expectations. But they will also support you and help you reach your goals through utilizing theory to inform your practice. I think about how my SAA experience informs my practice everyday, and I’m extremely thankful that I was a Spartan.
University of Massachusetts Amherst
As I left Spartan Preview Days and began reflecting on what I needed from a master’s program, I realized quickly that the SAA program would provide me with the support, opportunities, and challenges to not only propel me into my career, but also help form me into a better person. Initially, I was anxious about being in a classroom with a cohort of people with full time work experience because I was unsure about what I could contribute coming directly from my undergraduate program. The blend of experiences represented within my cohort created a unique platform for conversation and helped me gain perspective on the field. I am a better professional for the challenge brought to me through the variety of experience within my cohort.
The Theory-Practice-Theory model upon which the program is founded creates a culture of learning that supports diverse styles and collaboration among peers and administrators. My experiences in my assistantship and practica provided opportunities for application of the theories and models that we studied, ultimately helping me understand student affairs practice. Faculty advisors were especially helpful in challenging me to take courses and engage in experiences that would make me a well-rounded professional. As I enter into my first professional role, I feel extraordinarily prepared by the SAA program, and I would recommend the program to anyone looking to have a foundation in both theory and practice.
Assistant Director for Student Involvement & Leadership for Fraternity & Sorority Life
Johnson & Wales University - Providence
I always knew that I wanted to be an educator, but I started the SAA program with one single plan of exactly what I wanted to do after graduation. The program exposed me to so much more than what I thought I knew about student affairs. I established close relationships with my cohort—a diverse and talented group of individuals who I am proud to call my colleagues. The curriculum is completely intentional in that the required courses I took complemented each other and helped me to build a strong foundation of student affairs knowledge. It was also flexible enough that I was able to take courses I was interested in. One great aspect of the program is the practica experience. Not only did I get the opportunity to apply theory-to-practice, but also explore functional areas such as teaching and academic advising. Throughout my entire time, the esteemed faculty challenged and supported me personally and professionally to achieve my goals as well as stay on track to graduate. Hands down, this program was a defining moment in my life and I am incredibly grateful to have been given the chance to complete my graduate studies as a Spartan. Go Green!
Class of 2013
Sean J. Addley
International Programs Coordinator
North Carolina State University
The decision for me to return to school after three years working professionally was not one that I made lightly. I came into the SAA program with a pretty specific goal and career in mind. At first, I was a bit concerned that I may have made a wrong decision, as many of my peers were straight out of undergrad and were still searching for what they wanted their first career to be. However, this concern was quickly dismissed. One of the beauties of the SAA program is its flexibility. Yes, there are specific courses you have to take; but, these courses ensure a solid foundation of theory and professional best practices that allow you to then construct your own program, meeting your own personal and professional goals. Specifically, I found the practicum experiences the most useful means to gain invaluable professional experience, this experience was even more vital during the job search. The ability to say that I had actually worked in an international education office, as opposed to just studying about one, set me apart from other applicants. Beyond the practicum, the faculty of the SAA program genuinely care about the success of their students during and after the program. The faculty want you to do well academically, but more importantly, they want you to become a successful student affairs professional. The ability to make your own program and the authentic level of care given by the faculty are what really sets this program apart from others. The Michigan State Student Affairs Administration program is rightfully a well-respected (inter)nationally recognized graduate program.
Mark Chung Kwan Fan
Residence Hall Coordinator
Saint Louis University
In reflecting on my Spartan experience, I am beyond grateful and honored to have attended such a holistic-approach program at Michigan State University. As an international student from Mauritius, the Student Affairs master's program supported me in significant ways toward my personal and professional development. My assistantship, internship, and practica experiences provided me with valuable student development theory-to-practice opportunities in working directly with a diverse student body providing intentional and strong foundation leading to student success. Without mentioning the ubiquitous support and "tough love" provided by the faculty who helped me in becoming a strong leader and educator in the field of student affairs.
Today, as a professional, I often use the class content and theories learned during my graduate experience at Michigan State University. I am thankful for my peers and mentors who supported me through my transition into the student affairs world. The program is more than just an academic experience; it generates a sense of family, a bloodline of Spartans that connects all across the world.
University of Washington
My time in the Student Affairs Administration program at MSU was incredibly valuable to me as a student, professional, and person. From the beginning of my tenure at MSU, I felt a strong level of support and advocacy from the faculty. Whether it was a difficult class assignment or a challenging professional dilemma, I could depend on the continued advice and guidance from my faculty advisor and other staff members within the department. In addition to the excellent support I received from my professors and peers, I was also challenged to push myself as a student and professional. In my classes, I was encouraged to ask critical questions of the literature and was exposed to a variety of diverse perspectives from my peers. I was also challenged to link theory to practice, by putting what I learned in class to use as a practitioner in the field. Even now, a year after graduation, I often reflect on my experience at MSU and regularly utilize the skills I developed in the SAA program to benefit me in my current professional role. I am incredibly grateful for my MSU experience and am proud to call myself a Spartan! Go Green!
Coordinator, New Student Orientation
Metropolitan State University of Denver
When I was searching for graduate preparation programs, I was looking for an experience that would be completely different than my undergraduate experience, yet I never thought I would be leaving sunny Southern California for the Midwest to do so. Although I was very nervous moving across the country (and away from home for the first time!), I instantly felt at home thanks to the support of my advisor, cohort, and HALE faculty. Everyone I encountered while at MSU was very encouraging and really invested in me both personally and professionally.
I really enjoyed the structure of the SAA program and found that the class research projects, graduate assistantships, and practicum experiences really prepared me for success as a professional. In my current and first professional position, I have been given the task to develop and implement new orientation programs at my institution. Although a daunting task for a new professional, I feel very competent because I will be doing an extension of what I did in class projects while at MSU. The faculty always challenged us to think about applying “theory to practice” and now I fully understand why as I do it on an everyday basis at work.
Looking back, I will always be grateful for my time in the SAA program and the support of the faculty from day one of the program, to present day. I am a very proud Spartan, and I truly believe it is because of the wonderful experiences I had in SAA.
Class of 2012
Coordinator of Residence Education
Roger Williams University
Looking back at my SAA experience, there were so many valuable aspects from the program that encouraged my development both personally and professionally. The HALE faculty members were always invested in my success as both a student and a person. Not only a leader in his scholarly field, my faculty advisor was hands-on, caring, and committed to helping me find my passion in student affairs, and for that, I am forever grateful. Within my cohort, I was surprised to find a diverse set of backgrounds and perspectives that always benefitted group learning and allowed for the development of many meaningful friendships. Additionally, a diverse and well-rounded curriculum allowed me to explore my interests in the field of student affairs, while also building important skills and knowledge as a student affairs educator. Particularly, through the practicum program, I was able to experience student development theory beyond the classroom. The connections made between my coursework and practica experiences working at the President's Council, State Universities of Michigan, as well as a NODA internship at Roger Williams University gave me direction, focus, and prepared me for my future career. Overall, the SAA program has given me a strong appreciation and confidence for the student affairs profession, provided a strong network of colleagues for support, and has been integral in my success working with students. Today, I am able to apply the knowledge I gained as a student to be effective in my career—and for that, I am so proud to be a Spartan!
Class of 2010
Coordinator for the Longhorn Link Program
The University of Texas at Austin
When I applied to Michigan State University in 2007, I was not expecting to get admitted, let alone attend. In fact, the only reason I applied was because my mentor and other professionals spoke highly of the program. There was nothing appealing to me about the Midwest. All I could think of was the freezing cold weather and farming. I'm originally from Colorado, which is cold, but not the same. But all that immediately changed. When I attended Spartan Preview Days, I felt an instant connection; the faculty were brutally honest and encouraged me to attend the visit days of other programs. They did not "bad mouth" other schools and all they continued to say was how excited they were for us (SPD participants) to be pursuing a career in student affairs. My potential cohort were also amazing people who were authentic and passionate about the field of student affairs. And looking back this was one of the best decisions I ever made.
The Student Affairs Administration program challenged and prepared me to succeed as both a practitioner and student, while influencing my own personal growth. While here, I learned about the most current organizational structure and student development theory around, which is imperative when working in the university setting. The program also challenged me to think about my own identity and how and why I planned to enter this field, which was essential to my own development. If there is anything that I took away from my experience at MSU, it is the value of meeting students where they are at and the importance of advocating for students, especially when others may not understand their perspective. And none of this would have been possible without the support I received from my cohort and the faculty/staff. Overall my experience was filled with both ups and downs, but it made me the person I am today and for that reason I'm very grateful. Go Green!
Academic Adviser, Undergraduate Business Program
University of St. Thomas
I am more than grateful for the experiences and opportunities I had as a student in the Student Affairs Administration program. I chose Michigan State for a number of reasons. Upon visiting campus, I was impressed with the caliber of the faculty and students involved with the SAA program. The cohort model provided me with shared learning experiences and academic/personal support that is not often available within graduate programs. The hybrid of theory and practice provided a strong foundation and helped me to connect in-class and out-of-class. What I appreciated most were the unique opportunities to get involved in other ways throughout the program. It is not often that you are able to study abroad with faculty in South Africa over the summer and return to teach a student leadership course in the fall.
The SAA program is structured in such a way that improves critical thinking and encourages practical application, thus allowing us to be the best student affairs professionals we can be for the students with whom we work. Through coursework, practica experiences, professional seminars, and the support of individuals associated with the SAA program, I find that I have been more than prepared for my professional career. I will always be proud to be a SAA Spartan!
Catlin Michael Wojtkowski
Academic Advisor, Psychology
University of Illinois at Chicago
The most important things I took away from my time in the SAA program were the experiences from my practicum placements and the self-discovery that came from learning in a cohort model. At first, the practica requirements of the SAA program seemed overwhelming. I didn't see how I was going to be able to commit 10 to 15 hours a week on top of my coursework and assistantship. However, I quickly found out that those 10 to 15 hours a week were the most beneficial. It was great to have a place outside of my assistantship to practice the theories and ideas presented in class. I was able to not only better understand my coursework, but able to see what it was like to work in two different functional areas of student affairs.
When I came to MSU, I knew I would be academically prepared for a future in student affairs. I came to MSU for that reason, even without knowing I would have an assistantship. I didn't expect the SAA program to change and shape who I am as a person. Both the coursework and my cohort challenged my ideas and thoughts on everything from students to my own identity. I was exposed to new cultures and beliefs that challenged my own, but there was always a strong support system to help me navigate those challenges. My cohort was, without a doubt, the biggest catalyst to that change, but it was also the strongest support system to help me through it. There were times when the cohort model was challenging, but, in the end, it was one of the most attractive qualities of the program. The quality of students accepted to the SAA program pushed me to be a better student and practitioner, and I am sure my cohort will continue to challenge me long after graduation.
Class of 2009
Career Consultant, College of Arts & Letters
Michigan State University
Looking back I was really struck by the transformation that occurred, not only in my own thinking and practice, but in my fellow students as well. The great strength of the program is to take students where they are and foster their growth as professionals into who they would like to be. I feel so blessed to have been a part of this community and to have been transformed by this process.
Stephanie N. Whaley
Title IX Investigator, Dean of Students Office
University of Alaska - Anchorage
What did I get out of MSU? Upon first answering the question, "What did I get out of MSU?" I started to write a list. Education: check. Practical experience: check. Job when I graduate: check. And I thought to myself ... "Of course I should have gotten these things from a master's program at one of the most prestigious student affairs programs in the nation!" So I delved a little deeper, because I knew that my experience held so much more. At MSU, I was surrounded by some of the most well-reputed, well-respected, and brilliant minds in the field of student affairs. The incredibly caring faculty were so hands on, involved, and invested in my journey to becoming a professional, in addition to successfully completing the program. I was able to witness and understand what it truly means to be committed to student success. As for the coursework, it's structured in such a way to build upon itself, and work together to give you a range of expertise in assessment, student development theory, history, college structure, professional ethical standards, and the knowledge and skill set to assist you in whatever comes your way in the collegiate environment. As diverse as the curriculum was, I valued that in every course I was able to explore my passion for international education and working with students, and discover how student development could be put into practice to reach far beyond the campus of MSU at the same time that my colleagues were following their own passions in athletics, first generation, learning communities, multiculturalism, and academia. Through my coursework and practical experiences at the Office of Study Abroad and the Office for International Students and Scholars, I was able to finally define and visualize what I wanted to do with my life. That, in and of itself, was priceless. I now have direction, goals, and an understanding of how I can serve students for the rest of my life. I gained a whole network of colleagues I can call upon for professional advice, insight, and support. I gained a deep respect for myself, for my colleagues, my mentors, and an overwhelming and profound appreciation for the profession of student affairs and the integral work that we do. Choosing MSU, as serendipitous as it was, was paramount to my success and current work with students. Thanks MSU!
Class of 2008
Jenni (Lindberg) Brundage
Assistant Director of Apartment Life and Operations
University of Northern Colorado
I am originally from Chicago, Ill., but have lived and worked in a variety of cities after my time at Michigan State! I worked as a hall director at Loyola Marymount University (3.5 years), as a hall director with Semester at Sea (spring 2012), as an area coordinator at the University of Wyoming (1.5 years) and I am currently serving as an assistant director at the University of Northern Colorado. Each of the positions have provided me forums to create programs, services, and opportunities for students that continue to take student life/services to the next level. I have had the pleasure to create a residential leadership community and design a gender-based course curriculum, coordinate campus-wide service opportunities with community agencies, re-envision the function of conference services based out of Residence Life, and create and pilot a pet-friendly living community to students and provide best practices to regional and national residence life colleagues.
Above are only some of the experiences and opportunities that I have been afforded due, in large part, to the standard of excellence learned and adopted from the SAA program at MSU. Whether pulling from theory to create programs/initiatives or calling mentors, colleagues and friends for resources, I have truly come to value the community of scholars MSU SAA promotes and fosters. Beyond the learning environment, I believe that my practica experiences helped shape my future career path. While balancing the MSU SAA course load, a graduate assistantship and a practicum can be time-intensive, the commitment to the process can lay a path for the future you do not see at the time.
Another valuable MSU SAA takeaway for me was developing a lasting and meaningful relationship with a mentor. This person has served not only as a support system and sounding board, but also has challenged me in my career path and provided invaluable perspective on various work and life situations. I am grateful for the time at Michigan State University and am proud to be a part of the wide-reaching SAA network of Spartans. Go Green!
Associate Director of Academic Initiatives & Campus Parternships
Department of Residence Life & Student Housing
Southern Methodist University
The SAA program at Michigan State has prepared me not only for my first and second jobs, but my career as a higher education professional. The practical experience I learned in my assistantship in Residence Life and practicum in Admissions were invaluable experiences to help me develop my organizational skills, political acumen, and supervisory knowledge. I enjoyed working for different supervisors, learning new skills, and gaining experiences in functional areas outside of my comfort zone so I could build relationships and grow my career. I was encouraged to teach EAD 315: Student Leadership Training and was an inaugural intern with the HALE Center in Policy through the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan. I can’t think of better experiences to explore student affairs and higher education.
The support to create practical experiences was foundational in my success as a professional, but the most important aspect of the SAA program was the relationship with faculty. The faculty members were outstanding scholars that were professionally connected, yet personable and interested in my graduate journey. They helped develop my scholarly writing, challenge my ideas, support me personally, and taught me cutting-edge knowledge and research that helps me understand the collegiate environment to better support students.
Currently, I work mostly with academic affairs and connecting faculty members to out of class learning experiences. I would not be successful in my job if I were not taught the intricacies of faculty life and complex teaching/learning issues in higher education. As I have worked at a few different institutions, with hundreds of people, I feel confidently prepared to tackle complicated problems in higher education.
Class of 2007
Student Activities Specialist
University of New Mexico
Michigan State University's SAA program was integral in shaping me into the professional I am today. While I valued all aspects of my education, several components stand out as unique and defining experiences. The first is the practicum program, where I had the opportunity to teach a 3-credit undergraduate leadership course with another graduate student. I learned how to meet students where they were at while challenging them to learn and grow. I am a better student activities professional, advisor, supervisor, and public speaker because of that semester spent teaching. Another incredibly valuable component to the SAA program is the 1-credit seminar that students take each semester. The focus of the seminar changed each term, from helping first semester students ease into graduate school to finally helping us through a job search process.
The strength in the SAA program lies not only in the superior education the students receive, but in the community of scholars the department has created. The professors are experienced practitioners and passionate about student affairs education. I know it is the education and support I received at Michigan State that made it possible for me to take the leap of faith to an institution and culture so different from what I'd known before I moved to New Mexico. All of the conversations we had about institutional culture became very real when I found myself in my first job. I learned to listen and observe first before asking questions and commenting, and as a result, adjusted incredibly well to my new environment. I credit the ease of that transition and my success to the skills and values I developed during my time in the SAA program and I cannot be more proud to be affiliated with such a wonderful community of people.
Assistant Professor and Advisor
Zayed University, Dubai, UAE
Cohort Model: I value the support and the lessons I learned from the members of my diverse cohort. I mistakenly assumed that most of the students in my cohort would be very similar to me and value similar things, however the different perspective I learned from my cohort has been a valuable asset to me in my practice, and has allowed me to add greater perspective and value to the universities that have employed me.
Academics: The courses were entrenched in current research, and the SAA program allowed us to use the campus as a incubator for professional growth. I appreciated that my experience there was practical and intellectual.
Faculty and Administrators: The faculty and administrators were invested in me as a future colleague in student affairs. Their investment did not only apply to me as a student, but also as an individual as they frequently asked how my spouse and children were fairing and included them in the social aspect of the program.
Class of 2005
L. Michelle Vital
Doctoral Student; Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education program
Graduate Assistant, College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP)
Michigan State University
The Student Affairs Administration program was an excellent fit for me! I wanted to be fully immersed in my graduate program and took advantage of the many opportunities available. The most valuable experience while in the SAA program was the opportunity to connect theory to practice. I had an assistantship in the Department of Residence Life, taught two semesters of the EAD 315 leadership course, was a practicum student in Judicial Affairs for a few semesters, and ended my time with a practicum with the Vice President of Student Affairs. In addition, I did an independent study researching college students with invisible physical disabilities and attended and presented at regional and national conferences. All of these experiences were a great complement to what I was learning in the classroom. Whether it was Student Development Theory, Foundations of Post Secondary Education, or Building a Learning Organization, the SAA curriculum ensured that I had the theoretical framework to be the most effective and prepared while working with students. I continually draw upon the concepts that I learned both in and out of the classroom, which has helped me to become the practitioner that I am today.