Occupation: Director of Leadership and Engagement, Randolph College
Hometown: Roxboro, North Carolina
(Moved to Lynchburg from Boone, NC after completing master’s degree at Appalachian State University)
Tell us a little about your role at Randolph College.
I’m helping prep college students to be more successful in their college and professional careers. I think of my job as a tool box; I help students gain the tools they need to succeed. This can be achieved by helping students learn about their leadership styles, their strengths, how to handle conflict and deal with difficult people, how to communicate effectively with people of all ages, and how to establish their identity as a leader. It’s important for students to learn how to use their tools (in other words, apply what they’ve learned to everyday situations). I truly believe that a leader cannot grow and develop without kinesthetic learning.
What do you like the most about working with college students? Why do you find it rewarding?
I enjoy working with college students for many reasons. The first is that they keep me young, and they keep my mind sharp. No day is ever the same, and I like the challenge that a varied work environment can bring. I also find my job to be most rewarding every May when I’m standing at the top of the Dell Amphitheatre watching our annual Commencement event, and I reflect on the relationships I’ve built with the graduates over the course of four years. Of course, I’m happy they are receiving a diploma from a college they cherish. But, I can’t help but be even more proud of where they started and how they’ve grown as they embark on a new and exciting journey ahead. It’s an amazing feeling to know that some of those students have the confidence they need to be able to adapt to and perform well in their future learning environments.
Why did you choose to go down this career path?
I was very fortunate to have strong professional mentors at Meredith College, where I obtained my undergraduate degree in communication studies and Spanish. To help me decide if Student Affairs was the right professional journey for me, I interned at the Student Activities and Leadership Development Center the summer between my junior and senior years. I loved my internship and immediately started applying for graduate schools. During the spring of my senior year, I had the opportunity to work as a para-professional in the Office of First Year Experience alongside a co-director. I loved every minute of it. This opportunity helped me visualize myself in the profession and helped me realize how much confidence I had in my future.
You are also the 2016-2017 president of the Junior League of Lynchburg. What are your big goals this year?
My goals revolve around restructuring and revamping the organization, and I want to find out if the organization is meeting the needs of current members. Membership within the organization has changed since I started as a provisional member. We have more women that work full/part time, and we have more stay-at-home mothers that are very well connected to the Lynchburg community. I’m hoping that organizational leaders will not think outside of the box because a box has four walls and can be constricting. So instead, I’m challenging everyone to throw the box off the table and consider all options. This allows for more creativity and, in turn, more buy-in from leaders, members and community partners.
What type of leader are you? How would you describe yourself?
If we want to get technical, I can share my Myers-Briggs Typology results which prove time and time again that I am an ENFP. This means that I am: extravert (E), intuitive (N), feeler (F), perceiver (P). In a less formal sense, I would say that I am a coach. I enjoy mentoring and helping others reach their maximum potential within a team and individually.
I am loyal. I am passionate. I thrive off of interactions with other people. I excel when given creative license and love the challenge of implementing new programs.
What types of challenges have you faced through the years and how did you overcome them?
I’ve had my share of personal and professional challenges over the years. I find I should be thankful for what I’ve been given and should use each challenge as a learning opportunity to grow into a stronger individual. Challenges are not easy to overcome but with a positive attitude and an open mind for learning, you can surprise yourself and find out that they can be well worth the ride.
Do you think women face any unique challenges in the business world? Explain.
Workplace environments have improved for women significantly over time. However, I do think women still face challenges in the business world. Statistics keep proving that women are not paid salaries equal to their male counterparts. Work-life balance can be a struggle for both women and men, but often times society favors the notion that the woman should be the primary caregiver to children. This means that a working mother may not get a lot of rest at home after work. This could in turn cause lack of production or lack of investment in her professional life.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received that you still apply to your life today?
We are so busy running around checking items off our to-do lists that we often times forget about the people that mean the most to us. So, the best advice I’ve received is to slow down, take a breath, and let the people that are important to you know they matter and that they are loved because you never know what the next second, minute, or hour will bring.
What do you like most about living and working in the Lynchburg region?
When moving to Lynchburg, I thought it was going to be hard to meet new people. I have found the very opposite to be true. Lynchburg is a welcoming community and, if you put yourself out there, it is easy to meet new people with similar interests. And, if you do a little research you can find a plethora of social, leadership and networking opportunities.
Outside of work and volunteering, what do you do to relax and unwind?
I mostly love spending time and catching up with family and friends.