Heather Stevens: Student Advocate

Heather Stevens, Coordinator in the Office of Vice President of Student Affairs and Student Advocates, is a proud UM Alumna. Some of her influential roles include advising Student Government, which has made her appreciate the silent change student effort makes on campus, and being a TA for Dr. Whitely. Heather pursues her passons in all that she does and finds her job as a Student Advocate to be the most impactful position she holds on campus: “It gives me a sense of fulfillment.” This HerCampus writer had the honor of spending some time talking to the humble Heather about advocacy and character, even though she “wouldn’t really want someone to talk about [herself] to a stranger”, because she loves being the person supporting the star, not standing in the spotlight.

What does advocacy mean to you?

"It means being there when no one else will. It is closely tied with mentorship and support. Honestly, it is probably why I love my job so much. I see myself, and my supervisor, as the last line of defense for students. I hate having to tell students that I can’t help them with their desired solution, but I’m always there for emotional support.”

Would you say you are an umbrella or a bucket? Why?

"Oh, I’m definitely an umbrella (obviously). An umbrella covers you from the top, it covers your most vulnerable part. I will do everything I can to protect someone, but I also recognize that sometimes you need an experience that gets you a little wet; not mind numbingly soaked though."

What is the key to being a successful advisor?

"Advisors have to be approachable. If you aren't someone students want to talk to about the things they are struggling with, how can you advise them?"

You recently participated in the Disney Princess Run dressed as the Feather Duster from "Beauty and the Beast". What character trait do the two of you have in common?

"When my friends and I were talking about running in the 5k as characters from "Beauty and the Beast", I wanted to be Babette. She very much just does what she wants. She doesn’t seem the type to spend time doing something just to do it. I think life is too short to do things and hang around people that you don’t have the desire too."

What impact does  being a UM Alumna have on working with student organizations?

"I think it is a fundamentally valuable asset. I understand what it means to love UM as a student, and that is different than loving it as a staff member. I love UM and give that love back by supporting students. I get excited for students to represent UM."

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

"The specific reason I went into this field is to support students; to watch them thrive and grow. My accomplishments are the people I have been honored enough to work with. The people who dream and then accomplish that dream, especially when they doubted they could do it in the first place. Pride comes from seeing others do the right thing."

What is a common piece of advice you find yourself giving to student leaders?

"Listen to each other, ask for help and listen to the people who help you. You are more than enough to make a difference!"

What are the first three words that come to mind when I say 'campus ducks'?

"Ew. Go away! Gross."

Favorite female book character? Favorite male book character?

"Hermione Granger from "Harry Potter": She is everything I wanted to be. When I first read the books, around seven, I remember thinking how since we had the same hair we were basically the same person. In elementary school, I was always the first kid in class with my hand raised. I would get teased about it."

"Jake Barnes from "The Sun Also Rises": I think Jake shows how valuable reflection is. His character is searching for something he can’t have. That is something we are all perpetually facing."

You are sent back in time, where do you land?

"17th century England. I’m fascinated by Elizabethan England. I don’t see myself as a president or anything like that, but the idea of a badass woman ruling and taking over countries is incredible."