In celebration of the contributions made to undergraduate student success by graduate assistants working with our learning communities, we will be visiting with former graduate assistants to find out more about their experiences during their assistantships and where they have gone in their careers since. So, where are they now?
Erika Green ‘12
Erika Green ‘12 worked as a graduate assistant with the Madison community within Aggie Access Learning Communities. Holding a master’s degree in Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education at Texas A&M University, Green now serves as the Program Manager for the Office of Academic Enhancement at the University of Miami.
What was it like to begin your graduate assistantship with Aggie Access? Coming in as a new graduate assistant, I felt a range of emotions. I was excited and nervous, but also ready for the new experience. I served as a graduate assistant for the Aggie Access Learning Communities. In this role, I taught a yearlong seminar class for at-risk, firs-year students which emphasized effective ways to navigate the college experience (effective study habits, introduction to campus resources, etc.). I was most nervous about teaching a group of students but thoroughly enjoyed the experience working with the students and guiding them through their first year. I also had the chance to supervise undergraduate student mentors as they implemented events to serve the first-year students. I really enjoyed connecting with the student mentors and having the opportunity to support their growth and leadership development.
Why did you want to work with the learning communities? And what did you most enjoy about the experience? I was drawn to the learning communities because I am passionate about helping students successfully navigate their college experience. The fact that there was an intentional focus on first-generation and underrepresented student success was also appealing to me. I really enjoyed the connections I made with the students (both the first-year students and the mentors) and having the chance to see them grow throughout the academic year.
How did your graduate assistantship help you with your graduate work or later career? Serving as a graduate assistant for the Aggie Access Learning Community allowed me to grow in many ways. The teaching aspect made more comfortable in how I present information, guide students and build community within a fairly large group of students. Working with the student mentors one-on-one gave me a chance to find ways to challenge them to grow as leaders. In my previous role as an Assistant Director for an academic advising office at Florida Atlantic University, working with students one-on-one and in larger group settings was part of my daily responsibilities. In December 2018, I started a new position as a Program Manager for the Office of Academic Enhancement at the University of Miami. In this role, I assist students in navigating the application process as they apply for prestigious scholarship opportunities. As a whole, the Office of Academic Enhancement has a core focus on supporting first-generation and underrepresented student success, much like Aggie Access did. My assistantship provided me with a solid foundation and truly prepared me for my professional career.
What lessons or skills did you learn? The assistantship changed how I felt about teaching and working with student groups. Knowing that I was an “information giver,” it was important to me to make sure I was sharing information/lessons with students in an understandable and fun way so that they were taking away as much as possible from the class and from me. I found that if I kept student development at the forefront of my mind, I was a more creative and confident instructor.
Where has your degree taken you? Since graduating in 2012, I began my first professional position as an Academic Advisor at Florida Atlantic University in the College of Arts and Letters. In this role, I advised students with arts, humanities, and social science majors. In 2016, I was promoted to the Assistant Director position within the same office and was responsible for assisting the director with the oversight of the office and collaborating with advising directors and deans across the university to ensure the effectiveness of academic advising programs. I just started a new role at the University of Miami in December 2018 and serve as a Program Manager in the Office of Academic Enhancement (OAE). There are multiple units in the OAE; I will be serving in the Prestigious Awards and Fellowships unite, assisting students as they navigate the application process for nationally and internationally prestigious scholarships and fellowships. The OAE as a whole has a focus on the support of first-generation and underrepresented student success, which I really love.
What advice would you give to a current learning communities graduate assistant? I would encourage current graduate assistants to not be afraid to ask questions and to learn as much as possible from the professionals they are working with. The assistantship is a fantastic way to serve in a professional capacity while having a meaningful learning experience all wrapped into one. Take in as much as you can!
What “pearls of wisdom” would you offer to undergraduates considering graduate study? I would enocurage undergraduate students thinking about graduate study to really take the time to reflect on your future goals and dreams and to find a graduate program/school that will support your goals and dreams. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do or where you want to go, but taking some time to reflect will help you make sure that you are making the best decision for you.
LAUNCH: Learning Communities · FOCUS Learning Community · Century Scholars Learning Community · Texas A&M University’s Master of Science in Educational Administration, Student Affairs Administration in Higher Education emphasis (SAAHE) · College of Education and Human Development · University of Miami Office of Academic Enhancement