Before Her Campus launched at Chatham, Stephanie Reynolds sat patiently at a table in the Carriage House and walked us through the process to make it official. As one of several people who made our HC chapter possible, she holds a special place in our Cougar hearts. You can imagine, then, that the announcement in early February that she’d be leaving Woodland Road made us all more than a little bit sad.
Reynolds was a touchpoint for students, most recently serving as the Assistant Director of Student Affairs and Residence Life. She organized Orientation, welcoming new Cougars with exciting events and treasured traditions. She supported student organizations, filling in leaders on everything from planning to paperwork. In all that she did, Reynolds played an instrumental role in making Chatham our home away from home.
Now, she’s the Assistant Director of Knowledge Communities and Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Initiatives for NASPA (National Association for Student Personnel Administrators). And while we know she’s going to have a national impact, we’ll always be grateful for what she contributed to the Chatham family.
HC Chatham: Where did you go to college? What did you love about it?
Stephanie Reynolds: Walsh University of North Canton, Ohio. What I loved about college was the people!! I met some of my best friends whom I refer to as my ‘Brothers from Another Mother’ while going through the undergraduate experience who have truly shaped the individual I am today.
What is the biggest lesson you learned about yourself during that time?
I learned to trust! There were often times I felt challenged academically, personally and professionally, and it took having individuals I consider my mentors to educate me on the value of trust. Trusting those around you to be supportive and have your best interest at heart. Trusting the process when you aren’t the best candidate for the job. And trusting that you’re on the right path in life.
You studied Biology in college. How do the courses you took in college influence the work you do now?
I studied Biology – Pre/Pharmacology because I have a LOVE for the sciences. I was really good with that sort of thinking through high school, hence my choice of study in college. Although I do NOTHING with the science-related courses I took in undergrad, I highly value that I went to a liberal arts college which enabled me to have a well-rounded collegiate experience. These courses taught me to do what I love and follow my passions.
When did you know you wanted to go into higher education/student affairs?
I think like most Student Affairs professionals it just happens. I was an overly involved student throughout my undergraduate career and enjoyed very much the co-curricular experiences. I spent many a moon doing internships in chemical labs and pharmacies which helped me to realize that wasn’t the life for me. I absolutely adored the idea of being able to give back and to have a hand in the appreciation for higher education. It also helps that one of my college mentors took a chance on me by providing an internship experience in Student Affairs my senior year of college.
What was your first job out of college? What did you learn from it?
My first job out of college was at my alma mater, Walsh University, as the Coordinator of Commuter, Evening and Weekend Programs. I learned a lot from this job such as time management, event implementation, organization, supervision, the great importance of critical feedback and most importantly to be myself. It’s easy when you’re the new kid on the block to feel a need to conform to what you assume are the norms of a company, and it’s hard to stand against the grain. But trust me, you’ll be happier if you can love what you do and be yourself while doing it.
What advice do you have for graduating seniors looking for their first full-time job?
To take chances! You’re not going to get your dream job out of college, and if you do – rock it! I always tell students you have to work yourself out of a position. Be so good at what you do – even if it’s just answering the phone and filing papers – that folks can’t help but to notice you. You’re destined to do great things – it just takes time, practice and excellence to get there. And know that folks are always watching. You never know who you’ll encounter that may have some random connection that can aid you in achieving the next step in your career – so do great work in everything you do.
What brought you to Chatham?
Fate! But no, really I had recently left my job in Ohio where I started my master’s degree and was looking for a place that I could easily transfer credits and continue my educational pursuits. When I first started at Chatham I worked full-time as a Hotel Sales Manager, a part-time graduate student and a part-time Graduate Administrative Associate for the Office of Student Activities, Student Affairs.
Why did you pursue a master’s degree in Psychology? What was your specific area of concentration/interest?
I pursued a MA in Psychology because I consider it to be a transferable degree. Meaning I could use this to work with people, work in higher education, as a stepping stone toward a terminal degree, etcetera.
You’ve held multiple titles since arriving at Chatham. Can you give us a walkthrough of what each position entailed?
Graduate Administrative Associate – worked in Student Activities on the Chatham Happenings and other e-communications as well as co-advised the Chatham Activities Board.
Interim Executive Secretary for VP of Student Affairs and Dean of Students – worked closely with Dean Waite for the management of the front office and what I would refer to as project management for items like the Academic Planner/Student Handbook, Co-Curricular Transcript Program, etcetera.
Administrative Assistant to the VP of Student Affairs and Dean of Students – same as above but add in the co-advisement of the Chatham College for Women Student Government, taught a section of SDE 101, transfer student liaison
Coordinator of Student Affairs – oversaw the Relay for Life Campaign, Student Organizations, Student Government, Volunteer Opportunities, Empty Bowls Hunger Banquet, assisted with campus traditions and late night programming, assisted with the NASPA Lead Initiative
Assistant Director of Student Affairs and Residence Life – active member of the Residence Life Team, aided with the development and implementation of Orientation, Co-Curricular Transcript program, Student Government, Late Night Programming, Campus Traditions, assisted with the NASPA Lead Initiative, managed the calendaring process, supervised the Coordinator of Student Activities and Residence Life
What do you like about working in Student Affairs at a small university?
The joy of working at a small college is that you get to work on a LOT of projects. I’ve had several opportunities at Chatham to expand my horizons by working in various areas that aren’t afforded by working at larger institutions which usually operate in silos, such that there would be a separate team for orientation versus residence life and so forth.
You’ve managed the Co-Curricular Transcript Program and encouraged students to keep track of all that they do at Chatham. What tips do you have for soon-to-be graduates hoping to communicate the importance of their participation in campus life?
My tip would be that you shouldn’t start this project in your senior year. The CCT is a tool that helps to identify your college experience. This is a great resource to earmark the milestones students accomplish throughout their college experiences. It allows one to remember what all they’ve accomplished for talking points through applications, cover letters and interviews.
Were you a member of any student organizations as an undergrad? If so, what did the experience mean to you?
I was a part of A LOT of student organizations, and they shaped who I am. The most notable would be the University Programming Board, Student Government, Black Student Union, Students for Life, and the Science Club.
You’ve served as a critical touchpoint for student organization presidents, RAs and OLs at Chatham. What is the biggest mistake you think a student leader can make, and how can they avoid it?
To stop trying to be perfect. We all make mistakes, and my advice is to own up to them when they happen. We learn from these moments and can move forward from them as we admit to them. Avoid excuses, say you’re sorry, and move on.
You’ve taught the SDE101 course incoming first years take, and you’ve even coordinated Orientation. What advice do you have for incoming students?
To take it all in. Try new things, don’t be afraid to ask questions and to truly be yourself!
Transitioning to a new school is always difficult, but the tension rises when that also involves living in a new place. What do you think are the best ways to make Chatham feel like home?
To embrace it. Ask for help when you need it – trust me, it took me four months of working at Chatham to find the Library parking lot all because I didn’t ask questions. Home is easily defined by the people in your life, not the location – so it’s up to each individual to make connections and strive to be a part of the Chatham Community for the environment to really feel like home.
What do you love most about Chatham?
The people. The students have truly made an impact on my life, and I appreciate each and every one of them for teaching me something new on a daily basis. The faculty and staff are also fantastic! I think it’s a beautiful thing to say there are several individuals that will be with me for the rest of my life thanks to Chatham, and for that I’m truly grateful.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your time here?
It’s not personal – it’s work. It’s hard to take constructive feedback in life – but Chatham has taught me to really accept feedback as much as possible and to embrace change. I’m not the expert in all avenues of life, and it’s important to recognize these areas of growth and to learn as much as possible.
You’re moving on to work as the Assistant Director of Knowledge Communities and Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement (CLDE) Initiatives for NASPA (National Association for Student Personnel Administrators). What are you most looking forward to about your new role?
The greater impact in higher education. NASPA is a wealth of knowledge, and I’m honored to be able to move into this role. It’s also an organization that enables me to continue to work with my colleagues at Chatham such as Dean Waite, Heather Black and Hallie Arena who are also heavily involved on a volunteer basis with the organization – which is an added bonus. Plus to be reunited with past Chatham favorites such as Ruben Henao.
What will you miss most about Chatham?
The people – I’m truly grateful to have had almost five years of working with and for such great individuals. I’ll miss them all dearly!
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
PEACE OUT CHATHAM : )
What is your favorite Chatham tradition and why?
Thanksgiving Dinner – SO MUCH FOOD. I love it. : )
Which Chatham event did you have the most fun planning?
The Empty Bowls Hunger Banquet – it’s a great cause and a unique way to give back to the greater Chatham Community.
Which Chatham event did you have the most fun attending?
The Talent Show! Chatham students are SOO talented I’m amazed by it each year. Oh, and Airband, because who didn’t love the debut of Hallie Rachel and Stephanie as Sophia Grace and Rosie?
When you go to Café Rachel, what do you order?
A Mocha – I already miss seeing Tina’s face each morning as I had my daily caffeine fix.
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
Café Rachel fo sho and the ADC! I love that the original basketball court is still intact, it’s so beautiful.
You have a friend visiting Pittsburgh for only one day. Where do you take them?
Prantl’s – Stacked – Nakoma – Shake Shack – Lot 17 – Industry. Yes my Pittsburgh world revolves around food!
What do you hope is next for Student Affairs at Chatham?
Greatness! Everyone in Student Affairs at Chatham gives their heart and soul to their work, and I wish them all nothing but the best in everything!!!
Good luck, Stephanie! We’ll miss you so much at Chatham, but we’re thrilled to see what’s ahead for you!