October is Careers in Student Affairs Month. This month we celebrate the contributions, dedication and service of all Student Affairs professionals. We strive to bring awareness to the Student Affairs profession to promote our field. We hope that the more knowledge people have about Student Affairs it will help grow our field so that we can keep serving students to help them reach their academic and career goals.
To learn more about the M.A. in Higher Education Leadership Program attend an information session! Register here.
M.A. Higher Education Leadership, 2020
Giselle Jose’s interest in Student Affairs started when she was an undergraduate at UCLA, working as a student assistant in the Dean of Students Office. It was the first time she learned about the many resources available to students and a holistic approach to student support. She was intrigued to learn more about student services and administration in education, “there is so much focus in education placed on teachers and classroom instruction, but I wanted to focus on the administrative staff and leaders and managers who work outside of the classroom because they directly affect the experiences and success of students and teachers inside the classroom.” Giselle decided to pursue the M.A. in Higher Education Leadership at CSUN for the flexibility and cohort-based structure, “I appreciated that the program catered to working professionals, which allowed me to work and go to school full-time.”
Giselle spoke highly of the opportunities for self-reflection in the program, “…it helped me learn about academic concepts like the history and development of higher education and how it affected my own experience in the education system. Learning about critical race theory gave me a new lens to how I view and approach situations and how I respond to everyday racism, not just in education but in life.” But the highest impact made on Giselle was from a professor, Dr. Dimpal Jain, “Faculty representation matters, and as a Filipina American woman having a South Asian American professor impacted me in so many ways. Dr. Jain is a transformative educator and created opportunities for me to engage in difficult but critical conversations that promoted my learning and personal growth.”
Giselle is currently an Assistant Director for Stewardship and Donor Events at UCLA in the School of Education and Information Studies. Though she enjoys her work to show how philanthropy supports education and students, Giselle hopes to make her way back into student affairs. “My goal is to create programs for student success. There is a lot of focus on college access, and I want to ensure students are also successful once they get in college and beyond.” Giselle also wants to create spaces and platforms to elevate staff voices, “In higher education, faculty and student experiences are always in the forefront of conversations whereas those of administrative and support staff is not.” Giselle’s final thought is about leadership, “Leadership in higher education is about serving the school community. It is learning and understanding the community’s needs and then leveraging the power and authority that comes with being a leader in supporting them.”
M.A. Higher Education Leadership, Spring 2021
Rocio Rabara is an Evaluation Technician in Admission and Records in Student Services at Los Angeles Valley College since 2020 but she has been in the Los Angeles Community College District since 2016. She learned about the M.A. Higher Education Leadership program from many of her friends and colleagues who are alumni and/or current students of the program. She heard positive things about the program and often time’s friends/colleagues would encourage her to apply. It wasn’t until the Dean of Student Services, a Latina like Rocio whom she also looked up to, asked “so when are you getting your M.A” that finally made Rocio take the leap and apply.
Rocio described her experience in the Master’s program as “extremely valuable.” She explained that she felt supported by every professor, “I felt spoiled, the professors make you feel like you are their only priority, they make you feel seen and heard as a person and I was very shocked getting that kind of attention in a graduate program, it was very validating.” Rocio also appreciated connecting her experiences in real time with the readings and class discussions, she further explains “the tools that we learned, primarily obtaining the language to hold space in our prospective areas, to maneuver in the spaces and topics you most care about, which for me is helping students.” Rocio believes that college institutions should provide a safe space for students to grow to be well-rounded adults and that departments across the institution need to work more collaboratively to create that culture.
Rocio is open to new opportunities but sees herself staying in student services in the community college sector. She also realizes that there is still more to learn working in student services, “I don’t have the mindset that I have to know everything, I am okay learning in a role. But I do want to be in a position that will improve the experience of the students and validate staff with their efforts.” Rocio ends with a final thought by saying, “Leadership is attainable, we are often intimated by the titles and positions that people hold, but we are all able to create change. There are leaps and bounds to be made and it is my dream to be a part of that leap and push.”
Dr. Ryan Mason
M.A. Higher Education Leadership, 2015
Ryan Mason had a lot of mistrust of the education system, he saw disparities occur for people that looked like him. He also knew that getting a bachelor’s degree wouldn’t afford him the same route similar to his white counterparts. He recognized how different systems affected certain people and he wanted to explore that. After a meeting with one of his mentors in Student Affairs, Gigi McGuire, he realized he had an interest in the educational structural system. Ryan then met with Dr. Bill De la Torre in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies department where Dr. De la Torre helped shaped his focus and assured that the M.A. in Higher Education Leadership Program would help him find some answers and gain understanding.
Ryan was able to learn and understand about the educational structural system through both historical and current texts “it’s important to learn the history, but we have to learn and continue to learn current theories because the world is ever changing, ever evolving.” He also gives credit to his growth and understanding to his peers in the program. “Our cohort was so close and transparent, it allowed us to be honest and vulnerable and to really dive into the context we were reading about.”
Ryan’s passion for student affairs grew while in the program. He talks about the importance of being intentional in how we serve our students. “Every narrative of support and success is valid. If a student is having a challenge we have to meet them wherever they are, we have to validate the experience of that particular student and then we have to identify support. We need to understand and continue to learn to take the narratives of both the dominant group and those that get marginalized and remember that we are serving both. That is the call of being a leader in student affairs, we cannot minimize how we support our students.”
Ryan is currently the Assistant Director of Admissions for Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach in the Office of Enrollment Management at Loyola Marymount University and he is finishing his doctorate at the University of Southern California. Ryan is convinced that he wouldn’t have pursued a doctorate if he did his M.A. anywhere else and specifically names Dr. Dimpal Jain as the reason why he pursued an Ed.D. He strives to grow in student affairs and be part of the solution to form a direct partnership with academic affairs to advance support success for all students. Ryan wholeheartedly wants any prospective student thinking of this program to know that, “this program has the ability to broaden your understanding of education because of the curriculum and where the curriculum takes you. You will grow, your career trajectory may change. I now have a set standard for how institutions operate in which I represent and stand by that, I stand by telling people to go to CSUN.”