Maddy Woodford

Maddy Woodford

MSEd student, HESA (Higher Education Student Affairs)
Baylor BA ’21

by Kourtney David

Cedar Park graduate student Maddy Woodford knows firsthand the struggles of college life. As a busy and determined undergraduate student, Maddy took on many leadership roles and learned the importance of mentorship in collegiate life. Now, as a master’s candidate and graduate assistant in the School of Education (SOE), Maddy is paying forward the mentorship she received while pursuing higher education and making an impact on undergraduate education students.

Maddy said her time as an undergraduate leader shaped her love for the college experience and how people are welcomed into it. Her service in co-curricular activities, such as on her sorority executive board and as a Line Camp leader, was the building block for her interest in student affairs while she was earning her Medical Humanities degree from Baylor. She also pursued minors in Leadership Studies and Religion as an undergrad. Graduating in May of 2023, she is now taking her passions to the next level by pursuing a master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) in the SOE’s Department of Educational Leadership.

Maddy is applying the new skills she is gaining through HESA in her apprenticeship position as the Coordinator of First-Year Experiences at the School of Education. Under the leadership of Dr. Jenifer Johnson, Director of Recruitment and First-Year Experience, she takes on numerous tasks, including planning events, creating marketing tools, and advising the Student Advisory Council. Her apprenticeship allows her to interact with student recruitment and administration while also propelling her future professional career.

“The theories I am learning in class have translated to the work I am doing in my apprenticeship,” Maddy said. “Taken together, I am learning a lot, and through my apprenticeship have the opportunity to see its application. I am confident that by the time I graduate I will have the knowledge and experience to make meaningful, lasting impact on college students’ lives.”

Through her position as coordinator, Maddy also creates community-building and personal-growth experiences for the SOE’s first-year students in teacher education. Her daily duties include planning first-year socials and Peer Coach conversations, which Maddy said are places where students can meet and engage with each other. Maddy also gets new students involved through her monthly “Fast Facts” newsletter, which details resources and events for students to seek out. Maddy said by enhancing students’ social lives, we also improve their education and experience.

“Getting connected to the SOE is a critical component in creating a well-rounded, meaningful collegiate experience for our students and future educators,” Maddy said. “I believe – and theory supports — that the ways in which we engage students outside of the classroom positively contributes to their educational and vocational goals. I think events like first-year socials and communication efforts like Fast Facts are important pieces and launching pads for our first-year students.”

Maddy said the knowledge she is gaining through coursework constantly informs her work with SOE students. “Understanding the forces at play at the individual and institutional level have already impacted how I understand and approach my work,” she said. “I expect this will only continue as I finish out my educational journey and enter into my professional one.”

Maddy said the HESA MSEd program will prepare her to work as a student affairs scholar-practitioner by providing her with the tools to work alongside college students. In her first semester of the program, she learned about student development and foundations of higher education through coursework.

She said student life professionals and mentors helped her find a program that would merge her interest in collegiate life with administration skills for a career.

“They helped me imagine what it would be like to continue pursuing these collegiate experiences, but academically and professionally,” Maddy said. “Looking back, it’s amazing to see how all the seemingly random and segmented parts of my life all came together so wonderfully through HESA!”

In addition to her apprenticeship and master’s program academic work, Maddy also teaches Refit at the SLC. Although she didn’t see herself being where she is today, she is thankful for the opportunities the Lord had for her.

“I would have never pictured myself in this line of work, but now that I am in it, I can’t imagine myself anywhere else,” Maddy said. “What I thought were seemingly random experiences and promptings from mentors was really the Lord’s hand. I’m so sure of and thankful for that.”