What does your dual-program job consist of day to day?
For the M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, I manage all logistical aspects of the graduate program. This can include marketing, student recruitment, applications, internship paperwork, agreements with partner organizations, and student liability insurance. I also work with faculty in other departments who are seeking to design and implement new graduate programs.
The other part of my role involves overseeing all aspects of our international study abroad and exchange programs. I work closely with students as they prepare to attend our semester study abroad programs with partner universities in Canterbury, England and Nagoya, Japan. I seek out new global opportunities for our students, such as the recently added program with the Hellenic American University in Athens, Greece. I am the go-to person for current international exchange students and help make sure that they have a positive experience at Caz.
What other career experiences have you had?
I previously spent three years at Wells College, where I was tasked with building an international student recruitment program in admissions. Although Wells had robust study abroad programs, they had barely any international undergraduates on campus. Through recruitment travel in Asia and partnering with international education consultants, I was able to bring in about 20 international students from over a dozen countries.
I also served as an admissions counselor at Green Mountain College in Vermont. Before getting into higher ed, I completed Teach for America in the Mississippi Delta region and taught middle school social studies for a year in White River Junction, Vermont.
In 2017, I completed a limited-residency program at Prescott College in Arizona for my Master of Arts in Education, focused on international education and student support. I spent two months in Myanmar for my graduate thesis research, which I conducted in partnership with EducationUSA, a State Department group that helps international students pursue study in the United States.
What got you interested in international studies work?
My work in higher education is driven by a desire to support students who are inspired, passionate, change-makers and connect them with cross-cultural experiences. I recognize the need for U.S. students to develop global perspectives through meaningful international connections. I have witnessed how international students can add to the classroom experience at U.S. colleges. I also love research and geography, so getting to learn 180 different education systems rather than just the U.S. one is kind of cool to me.
Did you go abroad as a student?
I did not get to study abroad as an undergraduate student, so I took the opportunity as a grad student to travel to Southeast Asia and conduct research in Myanmar. It was an interesting time to be in Myanmar because it was very much an emerging country. It seemed to be transitioning toward democracy and more freedom for people in the country, but the situation has unfortunately regressed following the military coup in early 2021. There weren’t many people involved in human rights and education there, so I quickly became one of a small group of individuals working for equal access to higher education in the country. I’ve maintained my involvement with this effort on the Board of Trustees for the Myanmar Foundation for Analytic Education.
What do you like best about your position?
I enjoy how this role focuses on educational opportunity and providing students with life-changing experiences, while still allowing for a dynamic and flexible workflow. For me, teaching middle school from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every single day was all-consuming. I love the idea of working with students and young people, and really changing lives through new experiences, but doing it in the less regimented way that a higher education environment offers.
I love that our Canterbury, England program is fully operational with 10 students there now. It’s also great to have international students here at Caz again. In addition to our three exchange students from Japan, we have two students from Europe and one from Australia on campus. It’s gratifying to see this international exchange up and running when so much has been locked down over the past year plus.
What milestones have you been able to achieve in the CMHC Master’s Program?
We’ve boosted marketing, modernized recruitment efforts, added a new online application management platform, streamlined processes, and increased organization. It’s important that all of processes are tracked and documented top to bottom because the program is designed to produce licensed clinical professionals. The program is already certified with New York State, and we’re now in the process of seeking national accreditation.
We’re pleased that we’ve had a waitlist for enrollment in the last two years and enrolled a full cohort this past fall. The program is an important offering because it fills an urgent need within NY State, especially in rural areas, for practitioners with these skills and training.
What’s really significant is that Cazenovia has a full degree track in Human Services. Students can go all the way from earning associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees and become a licensed counselor through the programs here. The Adult & Continuing Education Department also offers related professional certificates, including the CASAC-T for substance use disorder counseling.
You’re teaching a course this semester. What is it about?
It’s “The Age of European Empires.” This course looks at Imperialism from the perspective of colonized nations and people, the countries that were controlled by the European empires, and the impacts that had on people, environment, and societies. It’s been awesome. I’ve been really impressed with my students and with Cazenovia students generally. So far this semester, they seem engaged and they’re really on point. They get concepts like the impacts of capitalism in a way my generation and others before me didn’t, I think. These students are ready to ask the big questions. It’s exciting because critical thinking is really important.
What’s something people may not know about you personally?
I’m an avid birder. It’s an interest I picked up during those two years in Mississippi. I’d walk for miles after school on an overgrown trail along the Mississippi River. Between river, swamp, levee, and field habitats, I could see 60 or so bird species on a good afternoon. I relish and welcome getting random bird questions of any kind, and I want your fuzzy photos of that weird white owl thing that was sitting on your grandparents’ roof!