Bruce Mann

Name: Bruce Mann

Current job & location: Graduate Assistant for Multicultural Leadership and Assessment, University of Puget Sound

Why are you passionate about student affairs: In a time of intense intellectual inquiry, self discovery, and search for meaning, student affairs has the potential to positively challenge, empower, and inspire students to further discover who they are and what mark they want to leave on the world. The power of student affairs is found in seeing the full humanity of students, listening to their stories, hopes and fears, and advocating for holistic student success.

What are some of your favorite things to do or places to visit in Seattle/Tacoma: First off, everyone in Seattle needs to discover the amazingness that is Tacoma and surrounding areas. There are so many amazing places to walk around and explore including Chambers Bay, Point Defiance Park, the Thea Foss Waterway, and the Ruston waterfront. In Seattle, I love spending time at Alki Beach, Discovery Park, and really anywhere that has a great view of the Sound.

Outside of class and work, how do you like to spend your time: When I think of the perfect afternoon it involves sunshine, a hammock, and a stack of books. Additionally I enjoy cycling, yoga, hiking, and pretty much anything that can get me outside and around friends.

Fun fact: I used to work as a freelance photojournalist, spending most of that time covering college sports.

Veratta Pegram-Floyd

My name is Veratta Pegram-Floyd and I am an SDA alumna from the class of 2013, as well as a double alumna from SU, with an undergraduate degree in Social Work/Sociology. Up until December 2013, I was working professionally in the field within the non-profit sector working in college completion mainly with first generation and low-income students. Even though I was passionate about the work that I was doing (in part because of my own experience as a first gen, low-income student), I was missing opportunities to holistically engage on a college/university campus. I resigned and began a job search, specifically focused within college/university settings.

Fast forward to early February where I was focused on a local search. I interviewed for two positions in Seattle and did not move along in either of their processes. It was frustrating at the time, however I later realized that neither of those positions were going to help me move along a direct path towards what I currently perceive my career end goal to be. Through a mentoring conversation, I decided to be open to different positions and explore a national search. Thus began my TPE journey and the lessons I learned from the experience…

Things to Consider:

-All of the TPE volunteers are very knowledgeable about the process and are there to assist you in any way that they can. UTILIZE THEM.

-Even when you may not think you are on, you are on. Remember to be professional at all times. This is especially important if you are offered the opportunity to attend socials or any other school related events.

-Different people approach TPE differently: The most important thing to note is that this is a very stressful experience for everyone, regardless of how many interviews candidates have lined up in advance and/or how much interview preparation has been done prior to coming to TPE. I didn’t know what to expect, but it is natural for me to approach others (and my work) with a very affirming and welcoming personality. When I saw that others were distressed in the candidate room at my table, I asked them about it/tried to problem solve with them. I didn’t come in looking at TPE as a “competition”, because I believe that the only person you are in completion with is yourself. Bring your personality to TPE and let that help you shape your experience.

-You might not have all of your interviews lined up before you attend: I know I didn’t, but I quickly learned that once you get to TPE, both you and employers you are interested in/interested in you are able to request interviews. Additionally, if you submitted application materials to a school prior to TPE, you can follow up again with them there. I had four interviews set up prior to coming to TPE, and two that I set up while I was there which came by way of networking in the Starbucks line! In my case, I didn’t have specific schools or criteria of certain schools narrowed down enough which helped me to be open with regard to meeting with other schools that I may not have initially considered. I had the flexibility to be open, but even with that flexibility, there needs to be some parameters…

-Be “selectively” open (if you have the interviewing flexibility): When you may be requesting interviews/schools are requesting to interview you, it is important to know some kind of criteria and/or follow your gut. One of the schools that requested to interview me was not a good fit demographically speaking. The other was not a good fit religiously speaking. While it was a learning moment for me which taught me to better trust myself, I should not have went on those two interviews. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of schools being interested in you, but you have to remember that as much as they are interviewing you, YOU ARE INTERVIEWING THEM.

-If you have the time (even if you don’t think you need the wisdom) get in on the roundtables and career coaching sessions offered: I heard that both of these may have been new additions this year. The roundtables were about an hour long and covered such topics as “how to prepare for the second round interview” and “how to ace the on campus interview” etc. The career coaching sessions are also an hour long. During the session, you get to sit with a seasoned professional who will offer guidance regarding where you are in your process. I was given so much LIFE by Dr. Kevin Dougherty, Assistant Dean of Students at UCLA. I asked him specifically about my non-traditional background and feeling confident about what I offer, knowing that my professional experience has not been in the field. He shared his also non-traditional background with me and helped to build up my confidence.

-Some schools will not have second round interviews at TPE: Always ask what their process looks like at the end of the interview and know that some schools do not offer second round interviews at TPE. This is not a reflection of you and/or how you interviewed, but rather a reflection of the school and their process.

-After TPE, remember to formally apply for positions if you did not do that prior to attending TPE (assuming there is a formal process)/follow up with the school. As we all know, some schools are more organized/have a more defined hiring process than others. If they don’t get back to you by the timeline set, follow up.

-(Most Important Piece of Information) Do NOT judge your experience based off the experience of your peers: Easier said than done, I’ll admit that I initially fell victim to this. As I moved along in the process, I got over this. Yes, I was bummed that I didn’t have more interviews. When I thought about it though, what was I really going to do with 18-20 interviews? No, I haven’t been offered a job yet, but I’m a firm believer that things happen as they are supposed to. Even though things are a little stressful while I am in this limbo period, I believe I will have the opportunity that was next meant for me.

Did I have a good TPE experience? I did, because I made the experience what I wanted it to be.

Since TPE, I have had an additional interview with a school that was interested in me, but did not have the scheduling availability to meet with me at TPE (that can happen as well). I have also been moving towards being a finalist for a position/school that I could really see myself having a lot of growth and influence. For this position, I completed a second round interview at TPE. I found out this past Wednesday, April 9th that they are checking references. After references are checked, they will make a decision regarding whether or not I will receive an on-campus interview. They are only bringing three candidates to campus. Given the way my first two interviews have gone, I STRONGLY BELIEVE that I will be offered an on-campus interview. If I get an on-campus interview, it will happen at the end of April/early May. I will keep you all posted…

Blessings to all of you in your search and congrats to those that have been offered positions and found their fit!

- Veratta

Thad Teo

Name: Thaddeus “Thad” Teo

Current job & location: Advancement Assistant for the Social Sciences Division, College of Arts & Sciences, University of Washington

Why are you passionate about student affairs: To briefly sum it all up in a few sentences– During my time as an undergrad, I met quite a few students who simply believed that they were here only to get a degree and get out. I believe that there’s a lot of work student affairs professionals can do to support students in getting a more all-rounded college experience, and I’m passionate about facilitating opportunities for out-of-classroom experiences because education should not be limited to just academics.

What are some of your favorite things to do or places to visit in Seattle: I love being able to take short drives out of the city to go hiking, but since this question is asking about places IN Seattle, I’d say hanging out at parks: Greenlake, Golden Gardens, Gasworks, Seward, and Safeco Field (it’s a ballpark so it counts).

Outside of class and work, how do you like to spend your time: If I’m not out in nature or watching sports, I enjoy cooking and homebrewing.

Fun fact: I have a 100% success rate in matchmaking (n=1). Back story: During one of the international student orientations that I facilitated while I was an undergrad at UW, I introduced an exchange student from Auckland, New Zealand to another exchange student from Coventry, England. They were both only here in Seattle for 3 months, but 3 years later they’re still together and living happily together in Sydney, Australia. Moral of the story? College isn’t just about getting a degree, it’s to find your ________ (fill it in yourself).

Alexa Forster

Name: Alexa Forster

Current job & location: Program Assistant for Residential Life, University of Washington

Why are you passionate about student affairs: There is so much more to a college experience than what students are exposed to in the classroom. I love being a part of a student’s growth as they begin and work their way through college in finding their identity and their passions as they relate to their careers and personal lives. I think student affairs professionals have the capability to positively impact students in so many ways and I love to be a part of this process for so many individuals.

What are some of your favorite things to do or places to visit in Seattle: I love to go shopping down near Westlake Center and visit Pike Place when it is nice and sunny out. My favorite place to eat would be the Old Spaghetti Factory near the waterfront. I’ve been going there since I was a kid. I also am very fond of Gasworks Park. It is a perfect place to walk to from the U District and has gorgeous views of the city!

Outside of class and work, how do you like to spend your time: I love to craft (jewelry making, and other fun projects I find on Pinterest), go out to happy hour, shopping, and movies with friends, and visit my cabin in the San Juans whenever I get the chance!

Fun fact: My hidden talent is playing the iPhone game Flappy Birds. My high score is 250.

One year ago, I was a first year student seeking out an internship at the SDA Internship and Networking Fair. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous and didn’t need a 20 minute pep talk from a continuing student before I even approached a single table. Yep, that was me- a nervous, anxious wreck. The first table I went up to was Highline Community College where they were promoting an advising internship. I knew going in to the fair that I was specifically seeking out an internship at a community college or in advising, so this one was exactly what I was looking for.  Kevin, the representative from Highline, was a previous high school counselor, like myself, and that grain of similarity sparked a great conversation between us.  I walked around the room that day and gathered a plethora of information and business cards, but I only reached out to Highline in the end. I interviewed with them not too long after the fair in March and they wanted me to start right away. Unfortunately I was unable to do that due to an internship I was committed to at Seattle U. At that point, I thought that might be the end of that conversation.

A couple of months later, the Director of Educational Planning called me and asked if I was still looking for an internship opportunity. I enthusiastically replied yes! During our conversation, she informed me that not only were they interested in hosting me as an intern but a part time position had opened up and she wanted me to apply. Nervous, excited, and completely unsure if I was qualified or not, I went for it. After a ½ day interview with various panels as well as giving a presentation, I was offered the position. I felt completely blessed that I was not only going to be receiving internship credit and hours, but was going to be paid too!

I started working at Highline in the Educational Planning and Advising office in the summer time as an Academic Advisor, working about 30 hours a week. Because I had no experience working at a community college, I had a lot to learn from the various transfer and professional-technical degree offerings and specific requirements. Highline is the most diverse college in the state of Washington and I was excited to work with a diverse population of students. After engaging in a series of trainings, shadowing, and informational interviews with various professionals across campus, I was ready to advise on my own. It was tough at first. Would I remember all of the information I just learned? What if I gave students the wrong information? How can I possibly remember all of the requirements for the Nursing program? I had a million doubts, but the supportive staff assured me that it would click eventually.  And sure enough, it did.

In addition to advising, I also was able to participate and eventually facilitate Highline’s new student orientation sessions. As you can imagine, orientation looks very different at a community college and Highline is one of the few community colleges that requires new students to attend orientation. Over the summer, we were conducting 2-3 orientation sessions per week and I had a major role in the facilitation and registration portions. One of my greatest accomplishments with Highline was presenting at the first ever Running Start Student Success Orientation on “Success in Online Classes”.  Running Start is a unique population of students that we don’t talk about in the SDA program. Running Start is a program for high school juniors and seniors which allows them to concurrently take college and high school classes that meet their high school graduation requirements (for free too!). Highline has a fantastic RS program with approximately 1000 students enrolled this year.

Since starting in the summer, I have advised Running Start students, displaced workers, veterans, international students, etc. The list goes on and on and the truth is, I never know who I am going to meet with in any given advising session. Every student is so different from the last in so many ways and I love that.

Once class started back up again in the fall, I decided to stay at Highline and give working two jobs a try. During Fall Quarter I was working at my GAship 3 days a week and at Highline 2 days a week, plus wrapping up 2 internships presentations and going to class twice a week. That was a major transition and I was exhausted after about two weeks in to the quarter. I did not anticipate how busy I would be and how much work it all was.  Reflecting back, one of the toughest things was moving through two very different roles at two very different institutions. I felt like I had to switch my brain on and off depending on what role I was in.  At Seattle U, I work in recreation and manage a group of 7 URec student leaders. This group of students plans internal events for students which include workshops, professional development opportunities, service-learning and we have a strong focus is on community building since there are 100+ students who work for URec. At Highline, my focus is advising new students on transfer and professional-technical programs and helping them register for the right courses. I rarely see the same student twice and our interactions last between 10-30 minutes.

Now, that I have been working full time between the two jobs for 5 month months, I have gotten used to juggling multiple roles. It has been a wonderful experience being able to engage in two very different areas of student affairs at two institutional types for this long during my last year in this grad program. From this experience, I have learned I have a strong passion for advising, working one on one with students, and building relationships with them.  Additionally, I can really see myself working at either institutional type after I graduate which will open up my options as I engage in the job search. I will be able to approach new opportunities with a wider range of higher education experience which –fingers crossed- makes me a competitive candidate.

**If anyone is interested in speaking to me more about my experience working at a community college, in advising, university recreation, working two jobs, or anything else for that matter, I am more than happy to share my experience with you. Just send me an email-

- Katie Pinney

Before starting to write this blog post, I’d like to begin by clarifying that this is NOT a recruitment post. This blog post is unlike the emails and announcements you’ve likely received about the student development dance marathon (DM) team. This post is about getting finding community and why I do what I do. And it is also not the most coherent piece of writing… so, don’t say I didn’t warn you!  

So – hi, my name is Ruth and I’m a first year student in the SDA program J Last quarter was my first quarter in the SDA program and—I’m just going to say it—it was hell. It was truly an emotional rollercoaster ride for many reasons and there were many, many times when I doubted my decision to be here and try to tackle this thing called grad school. I was taking a full course load (ed research, foundations, and theory) while working 20 hours a week at my GAship in Student Activities. On top of that, I was still transitioning to a new city, new school, new apartment, having a new roommate, and trying to make new friends. For some reason, everything was just so challenging and I had solution for fixing any of it.

After trudging through a good chunk of the quarter, I came to acknowledge that I had no community here in Seattle. Sure, there was the entire SDA community of 50+ people but I didn’t think that I had connected enough with people to feel completely comfortable around them. And being the highly relational person that I am, that was not an easy situation for me to be in and I wanted out. In my personal life, I couldn’t think of many people I felt comfortable in reaching out to and, at work, my relationships with coworkers and students seemed pretty superficial as well. At times, it was even difficult to remember why I wanted to be a part of the field of student affairs in the first place.

Towards the end of the quarter, somehow, Simone and I started talking about DM. Initially, I hadn’t planned on participating in DM as a dancer – I just wanted to bounce the idea of a team off of her and see what she thought. After hearing about her DM experience and passion towards the cause, I thought, “Why not? I don’t have a good reason to not do it.” Together, we decided to create the division of student development’s first DM team and Simone came up with our awesome team name, Theory à Dance Practice! One of my roles in my GAship is serving as co-advisor to DM’s steering committee. So, at the next DM meeting, I told my students that Simone and I were creating a student development DM team and we hoped to get some staff/faculty involved as well. The students were thrilled! I thought to myself, “Uh oh, now that I’ve announced it publicly, I better commit to it and follow through so that I don’t disappoint anyone.” And I’m SO glad I did! DM has definitely helped me find community here at SU and in Seattle. My decision to commit to DM as a dancer has helped me grow closer to my students and it has allowed me to use my relational strengths in talking to my fellow SDA peers and student development colleagues to recruit them to join our team or encourage them to support the cause in some way. More importantly, a lesson I learned from Simone is: being a professional is about more than just doing your job well – it’s also about getting involved with your students’ passions!

Hearing this perspective from Simone made a huge difference in how I now approach my work and relationships with my students. Before, I would feel really awkward talking to students about topics beyond our advisor-advisee relationship. I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to ask about their personal lives or try to get to know them more. I didn’t want to be crossing boundaries that I thought might have existed. But did those boundaries really exist? I have no idea. By choosing to participate in DM as a dancer, I suddenly shared a lot more commonalities with my students. We all had fundraising goals we wanted to achieve, we believed in the DM movement, and we were all part of the greater DM community. It was pretty awesome to feel like an insider instead of just an advisor looking in. And it was awesome to see the students’ excitement about having such a different population involved with DM!

Over winter break, I reflected a lot about my experience in the SDA program and my GAship so far. I took the break as a chance to figure out what I wanted to do once I came back to Seattle and how I would try to tackle 2nd quarter. Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions, I decided on a theme for 2014: creating happiness. With this theme, I can do whatever I believe contributes to my happiness! I believe getting involved with DM is one of the things that will bring me happiness this quarter. Being a part of the DM movement allows me to be in community with those who share a similar passion as me and it allows me to strengthen my relationships with my students. Furthermore, being involved with DM outside of my courses and GAship responsibilities reminds me of why I wanted to work in student affairs in the first place – the people and the meaningful relationships I share with them!

I encourage you to find something your students are passionate about and get involved with it as a participant, not just as their advisor/mentor/whatever your formal role or relationship is with your students. I believe, as grad students and professionals, it is easy to get too busy and too tired to even think about putting your energy into something else outside of your required duties. But isn’t getting involved with our students’ passions what our work is about?

I apologize for the very disjointed blog post/mass reflection/ramblings. I hope this was somewhat enjoyable to read and I sincerely hope that perhaps it encouraged you to reflect on how you are/can get involved with your students’ passions! J I shall now include some fun pictures of DM to make up for my ramblings:

Ruth Huang 1 Ruth Huang 2 Ruth Huang 3 Ruth Huang 4 Ruth Huang 5 Ruth Huang 6


- Ruth Huang

Catie Holker

Like many of you, I took a full load of classes my first quarter in the SDA program. At the time, I was also working full time. With my plate becoming more and more full and my sanity slowly slipping away, I naturally found myself doubting my abilities, doubting that I would be able to finish this degree, and doubting that student affairs was the route that I should have chosen.

By the end of that first quarter I was immensely worried. I had already committed myself to this, but what if it wasn’t the right place for me? I love my cohort, I love my classes, but did I really love the work and the focus? My biggest problem was narrowing what area of student affairs I wanted to concentrate on. That always seemed to be a question that came up amongst my peers; “What area do you want to work in? What’s your ultimate goal?”

On top of all of this, I had internships to figure out. How was I supposed to find somewhere I wanted to work, that had something I wanted to do, and would work with my schedule? It was a daunting task to think about, and to this day I’m grateful for the support of the SUSDA community and the Internship and Networking Fair that allowed me to find two amazing positions that I learned more from than I ever thought possible in 3 short months. And that’s what I want to talk about here: I found my passion in an unexpected, and maybe uncommon, place. I chose to take a risk and take on an internship at a nonprofit instead of a college or university and it ended up being just what I needed to find my passion in working with students.

At the Internship and Networking Fair I had the pleasure of meeting Rebecca and Aaron, two outstanding individuals who work at Summer Search. I was shocked to find a nonprofit institution at the fair, and found myself drawn to their organization. It was my first real exposure to the college access scene, and from the second I walked away from their table, I knew I was going to do my research and find out more.

Luck was on my side, that quarter. I met with Rebecca for an informal interview and before long I was filling out the paperwork to become an intern with Summer Search Seattle. I spent the summer mentoring high school seniors in their transition from high school to college, researching the achievements of Summer Search alumni, and creating a scholarship database for the organization. Maybe the tasks sound rudimentary, but what was most important to me about this position was the welcoming community of individuals I got to work with and the experience at an organizational structure that was new to me, one outside of higher education. My fondest memory is when one of the high school seniors finally opened up to me and even started calling me her “mentor.” Nothing since has made me feel more proud of the work that I do.

As someone who entered grad school just 3 months after obtaining my bachelor’s degree, I often believe that my perceptions of the student affairs field are limited due to my lack of experience in the working world. Thanks to the internship component of the SDA program, I was able to get real world experience and more clearly define where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do after graduate school. If any of you are considering an internship outside of higher education and you’d like some advice or would just like to chat about it, my door is always open! (And my email is too:

One last thing! Because I’m a huge nerd for quotes, I wanted to share with you all a few of my favorites that remind me of my internship experience. Enjoy!

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” - William G.T. Shedd

“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” – Will Rogers

“There is no discovery without risk and what you risk reveals what you value.” - Jeanette Winterson

- Catie Holker


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