In our last GTK for 2012, we are featuring Emily Abel, Program Leading to Undergraduate Success (PLUS) Coordinator and Academic Advisor at Framingham State University and Suffolk AHE alumna.
Thank you for your willingness to share in this Get to Know You segment, Emily! Please share with us a bit about yourself.
Currently, I coordinate an academic support program for 40 first-year students who are primarily first-generation college students and/or attended under-performing high schools. The program works to aid in their transition to college-level academics and to teach them the skills they need to be successful college students. I am also considered their academic advisor and carry an additional caseload of undeclared advisees. Over the summer, I run a college-readiness program for local high school students called College Tomorrow, which is similar to Suffolk’s Connections 2 College program. I love my job because as a first-generation college student myself, I can understand the obstacles they face which allows me to create programming that is appropriate for their academic transition. In addition to my main job responsibilities, I just co-founded the New Professionals Network at FSU where professionals new to FSU or to the field of higher education in general can come together to network and take advantage of professional development opportunities.
Awesome! Your work at Framingham State sounds like it provides critical support to many students. Tell us a little about your path into Higher Education and why you chose the Suffolk AHE program?
After I graduated from Ithaca College I was in the AmeriCorps* VISTA program at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, NY where I served as the volunteer and service-learning coordinator. I always knew I wanted to work in some sort of “service” capacity but never considered higher education as a medium to reach the populations I wanted to serve. After 6 weeks in AmeriCorps* at OCC, I started the grad school application process for Higher Ed Administration where Suffolk quickly became my top choice. I chose Suffolk for its commitment to educational access and community service – the breadth of programs within the S.O.U.L.S. office and their graduate fellowship were very appealing to me as an applicant. My fellowship at S.O.U.L.S., specifically my work with Connections 2 College, undoubtedly prepared me for my current position where I’ve been in two capacities since graduating in 2009.
Where did you complete your practicum experience as a Suffolk AHE student?
I did my practicum at MIT in the Career Development Center where I worked directly with first-year students in their career exploration and internship preparation. It was important for me to use my practicum experience to expand my higher education experience. My experience had been limited to service-learning so it was important that I sought out opportunities to hone my skills as an administrator and to make me as marketable as possible. At MIT, I gained experience in career advising and working directly with first-year students which are applicable to just about any realm of student development.
What has your path been after graduating from Suffolk? Additionally, what advice would you offer to new graduates of the program?
After graduating, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to fill in for a full-time S.O.U.L.S. employee who was on maternity leave while I embarked on my job search. By the end of the summer, I took the position at FSU, but it was in a much more limited role than what I do today. I toiled whether or not to take the position because it was just under full-time hours, and non-benefitted – I was considered a contract employee. I don’t regret taking the position at all because it was exactly the type of work I wanted to be doing in higher education. I figured the worst case scenario would be that I started a job search again in a year or two. After approximately two years, my position was expanded and made full-time and benefitted. When weighing whether or not to take a position, ask yourself whether it is a step in the right direction. If it isn’t the perfect step, it’s okay, but if you think it will help you reach your goals, then go for it.
Thank you for all of your great advice and insight! To wrap things up, what do you like to do outside of your work at FSU?
I would say most of my life revolves around food – whether it be searching for new recipes and cooking or going out with my husband and friends in search of tasty treats!
Contact Emily (firstname.lastname@example.org) for any questions or comments regarding her education or career path!