Position: Director of Student Leadership and Involvement
Working at Samford since 2013
What is your favorite thing about your job at Samford? I believe that cocurricular experience is essential to inform and enhance learning within the classroom; seeing students make connections between the two is one of my favorite things about my job. I also love advising students one-on-one, and engaging in meaningful conversations surrounding spiritual development, leadership and service.
What is one thing your colleagues may not know about you? As the child of missionary parents, I spent the first several years of my life living in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. I’ve always considered my parents to be gritty individuals. Their courageous faith shaped my adolescent years.
What is your favorite activity outside Samford? Spending time with my husband, Brian, and our 7-month-old lab, Gibson. Brian and I both enjoy traveling. Our last trips took us to the mountains of Switzerland, coasts of New England and great redwood forests of California. As Nashville natives, and former architects and designers, we also appreciate discovering all the hidden treasures Birmingham has to offer through the local music and arts scene.
How did your background prepare you for your current role at Samford? As an undergraduate at Virginia Tech, I served in several leadership roles that challenged my perception of what it means to lead. Through personal success and failure, and in the midst of a great campus tragedy, I realized the importance of values-based leadership and service to others. Within my academic endeavors in the School of Architecture and Design, I learned to creatively solve problems, a skill I believe allows me to uniquely contribute to the Student Life team. In graduate school, through an assistantship in the Women’s Resource Center, I aided in peer education and advocacy programs for underrepresented populations, which prepared me to better support the diverse array of student organizations at Samford.
What, specifically, does your job involve? The Office of Student Leadership and Involvement comprises three major spheres of student life: implementing leadership programs, supporting non-Greek student organizations and advising the undergraduate Student Government Association. Our team includes myself, Anika Strand and three incredible student assistants. We work together to provide resources and counsel to students using the social change model of leadership, a theory we believe closely aligns with the Christian mission of Samford.
What is the biggest challenge you face in managing the diversity of student organizations and leadership at a university like Samford? Communicating the many opportunities that our office offers! We provide everything from funding for leadership and faith-based conferences to MBTI and StrengthsQuest consulting. Thankfully, we distribute the Campus Connection, a weekly e-newsletter that provides information about campus events and resources. We hope that students will, in the words of Thoreau, “live deep and suck the marrow” out of their Samford experience.
What is the best piece of advice you were ever given and by whom? I have two. A professor in graduate school told our cohort to always “meet people where they are.” I often think about the untold stories of each individual and how, as believers, we are called to approach others in truth and grace. Secondly, the importance of reading widely, deeply and often. In a world of increasingly polarized perspectives, I believe that the more we know, the more we can truly love our neighbors.