Assistant Dean of Students for Disability Services & Academic Success,
Claremont McKenna College (California)
What is the campus culture at Claremont McKenna (CMC) compared to that of Baylor?
CMC is one of the top 10 liberal arts colleges in the country, and we only have 1,300 students, so the type of student is a little bit different. Many of our students are focused very heavily on academics. When I first started at CMC five years ago, as assistant director of student activities, my supervisor and I were tasked with building our student activities office from the ground up. Baylor, similar to my undergraduate alma mater of SMU, has a large student body, large student organizations, and a lot of students don't live on campus. CMC is a residential campus, with 95 percent of our students living on campus all four years. We are intimately familiar with the lives of our students on a day-to-day basis. This makes it easier for us to reach out to struggling students because we know their friends, know what organizations they're involved in, and know how to get them better connected.
Have you always had a passion for students with disabilities?
I had done some work with populations of people with disabilities, but not necessarily students. I have a great passion for student activities, so when I came here it quickly became apparent to me that students with disabilities were being underserved in the events world and generally on campus. I started to teach myself and seek out resources to be able to improve the programs I was planning and make the students I was working with more aware. I transitioned into to this newly created position in June of 2018.
What lessons did you take with you from the Baylor HESA program into your new job?
I don't know how to pinpoint one thing. There's so much that I learned while in the Baylor HESA program, both inside and outside of the classroom. Baylor is where I found my own voice and became more confident in what I had to offer as a student affairs professional -- I think that's what stuck with me. Those feelings were affirmed for me in the classroom and in my apprenticeship. It's served me well in my career so far, because I have made my voice heard. It's allowed me to move forward professionally at a quicker rate than I probably would have if I hadn't been as confident.
Are there Baylor professors who had a profound impact on you?
I loved all my Baylor professors. I was on campus recently, and I had lunch with Dr. [Robert] Cloud and coffee with Dr. [Rishi] Sriram. I'm also having coffee with Dr. [Nathan] Alleman when he's out here. All of my Baylor professors had a profound impact on me. I am specifically thankful for what I was taught by Dr. Sriram; he was my thesis advisor. I became competent as a writer and a scholar through his classes and the time spent with him working on my master's thesis. I'm thankful for each one of them.
Interview by Andi Risk