Sally Parish, assistant director of student orientation and leadership development, only has one priority: students.
Parish has worked in the Office of Student Orientation and Leadership Development for a little over two years. Her position takes her all over campus, working with students and doing different things every day.
“No day is the same,” said Parish. “Some days I’m on Pedestrian Walkway, and sometimes I’m teaching a class, but then some days I’m cleaning whip cream out of someone's hair because they got pied in the face . . . that's what makes it exciting.”
A native Tennessean, Parish graduated from the University of Memphis with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She then moved to Florida, where she received her master’s in higher education and administration with an emphasis in leadership development.
“I loved the journalism classes I took,” said Parish. ”But i couldn't see myself necessarily being good at being a journalist; but I knew I was good at being a student leader. [I] knew that my true passion was working with students, and so I knew that I would find my way back to a college campus."
Whether it’s teaching a First Year Studies Seminar, overseeing several student leaders, or just having lunch, Parish always finds herself face-to-face with dozens of students daily.
"I'm never without a student when I'm on campus,” she said. “I almost always have a student in my office, or I’m teaching a class, or I’m in a student meeting. I truly do what I do because I love working with students. And so, a good day is a day that I get to spend surrounded by students at the University of Tennessee."
And several University of Tennessee students have noticed her influence in just her few years of being on campus.
Elias Askins, junior in mechanical engineering, was a 2009 Student Orientation Leader. He worked extensively with Parish throughout his years at the University of Tennessee.
"Working with Sally has been an awesome experience,” he said. “She's one of the funniest, craziest, most entertaining people to work with. She really takes our leadership development seriously and makes sure we take it seriously as well.”
With so many different leadership programs, including Ignite, Student Orientation Leaders, and Leadership Guides, including teaching classes and several leadership conferences over the course of the school year, many could see themselves easily get lost in all the excitement.
“I think for anyone who works in student affairs – that's your life,” said Parish. “You're always busy, and you chose that.”
Parish admits that there is only one thing she finds constant in her day: e-mail.
“There's a lot of email,” she joked. “That never changes. I answer a whole lot of e-mails.”
In an ever-changing environment, her duties may seem overwhelming, but Parish knows a secret about her busy lifestyle.
“It's not just that one person is busy, it's that we're all busy,” she said. “But we’re all in it together. And I think, and I tell students this all the time, that as long as what you're doing is what you love, it's never a job. And so for me, and for everyone in our office, we are truly passionate about the things that we work with, and so every day is a gift.”