What I Love About Working in Student Affairs

Growing up I had always thought I would end up in a health-related field.  After realizing I am squeamish around vomit, pass out when blood is being taken and generally can’t stomach the sight of broken bones, I knew becoming a physician wasn’t for me. Although the intrigue of the field was the ability to help empower individuals to help themselves.

A long story, several career ideas and some internships later, here I am in the USCSOMG Student Affairs office.  It really has been a perfect marriage of my passions.  Before moving my whole life from the Philadelphia, PA area to Greenville, SC, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biobehavioral Health and a Master of Science degree in Higher Education Counseling and Student Affairs.  I didn’t know this was an option going into school, but now that I am on the other side I can say it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.  I get to spend my time investing in the future of others.  There are so many reasons I look forward coming into work in the morning, but I will share a few of the main highlights:

  • Every individual is so unique. I love learning about the talents, passions and hobbies of any student I come in contact with. I learn something new every day and I am constantly blown away by our students. Everyone has a special talent beyond the academics and career path that brought them here—from a beautiful singing voice, to a talented eye for photography or even a special interest in go-carting.
  • It’s fun! The highlight of my day is when a student comes to my office to tell me about a funny story or a random event that happened to them or if they feel like sharing a struggle they are having. It might not seem like a lot, but it makes me feel like what I am doing matters.  They want to share a part of their day with me that otherwise would have been unknown or forgotten.  On a more serious note, as a counseling professional, these daily small interactions are what help me identify when a student needs help.  I’d like to think these interactions are good for both of us.
  • I get to be creative on a daily basis. There are some unavoidable day-to-day activities that go with any job; however, there is so much room for new ideas at USCSOMG.  Being a new school affords us the opportunity to try a new program or implement new strategies for student success.  Other more established universities I have worked for couldn’t offer the same.  The Colleges program has been my pet project this past year, and I can say every meeting, email, event and discussion around the program was exciting for me. Maybe not every minute of every meeting, but afterwards I felt like another brick was placed on the foundation of the program. To take something brand new for our school and craft it into something that works for us and our student body has been really rewarding. It also gave me a chance to meet students and talk with them on a deeper level about what they want and what they would like to see happen.
  • There’s motivation to do more. I am constantly humbled by the accomplishments of our students, both before they came to USCSOMG and while they’ve been here. They are in the thick of their education and are still very inquisitive about their field of interest. This example makes me personally reflect on what I could be doing to improve my field or even the programs we have here.  Some may think Student Affairs is all about throwing parties and being the cheerleaders for the students.  While that is a very basic part of what we do, there is so much more.  All decisions are made based in fact and grounded in best practices.  This is something that professionals in the field and in our office strive for daily.  We put in a lot of time and effort into thinking of all possible options and pick the best outcome for our students.  Comparatively, there is much less research about the medical student experience when compared to the research base of the undergraduate population.  This indicates to me that there is much more that can be done to understand student needs for success.

To be completely transparent, I was terrified of starting my life over in another state and initially turned this job offer down.  I couldn’t sleep the night I sent the “I am sorry, but I cannot accept” email.  The pit in my stomach let me know I had made a big mistake, and I called back early the next morning to see if I could change my response.  Graciously my now bosses said yes.  I am truly grateful for that. There are so many other reasons I love working in the Student Affairs office, but if you want to know more you’ll have to stop by and ask!

Emily Northey Student Success Coordinator 864-455-8796 enorthey@greenvillemed.sc.edu

Emily Northey,
Student Success Coordinator

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