(Image: Mike Dawson)
Ashley Adams is the director of Student Affairs for Penn State World Campus. We wanted to understand what her newly created position entails and how she plans to form connections between our online learners. Here’s our discussion:
Tell us about your background in Student Affairs.
I have worked in the field of higher education for a number of years across many different functional areas. I started my career as a student employee at the Truman State University Multicultural Affairs Office. As a graduate student, I worked at DePaul’s Egan Urban Center, which focused on community-based research in Chicago. I’ve worked as an admissions adviser, retention coordinator, and as assistant director of Student Services, where I supervised recruiters and academic advisers, before coming to Penn State World Campus.
What first interested you in the field of student affairs?
The idea that I can stay in school is what draws me to this profession. The best and most formative years of my life were as an undergraduate student. As a student affairs professional, I can keep learning and influence the way adult learners interact with their peers through the many engagement opportunities that we offer at Penn State World Campus.
What clubs and organizations did you belong to as a college student?
As an undergraduate student I was heavily involved in student organizations. I sang with Unique Ensemble, the school’s gospel choir. I served as a member of the Association for Black Collegians. During my junior year, I became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a historically black service sorority. I also served as the communications director for the student government for a brief period of time.
Can you speak about the various ways our students can become involved outside of the virtual classroom?
From undergraduate research opportunities to student clubs and organizations, there are a number of ways that Penn State World Campus students can get involved. Organizations like the Blue & White Society and Psychology Club offer networking opportunities that may last a lifetime. With an established Student Affairs unit at Penn State World Campus, students are encouraged to form new clubs and organizations based on their interests, degree programs, and even geographic locations! The process of forming new clubs or organizations can be done in partnership with me.
Can you talk about the benefits of becoming more involved in clubs and organizations?
It is well documented that online students are seeking opportunities to build community and have a holistic college experience, and that those who have this are more likely to be successful in academics. Being a part of a club or organization provides you with more chances to connect with your peers. This connectivity builds a community of like-minded learners, which can help you achieve your academic and professional goals.
What would you say to a student who might think that joining a club or organization is too
Being involved as a student doesn’t have to take a lot of time or take you away from other priorities. In fact, it can enhance the quality of your life and connect you with other busy working adults.
What is a new initiative that you’d like to see started at Penn State World Campus in the area of student affairs?
I’d like to see increased opportunities for students to participate in governance and leadership through the establishment of the first Penn State World Campus Student Government and encouraging expansion of student clubs and organizations. I’d also like to expand opportunities for Penn State World Campus students to have out-of-class engaged scholarship opportunities through study abroad experiences, alternative spring break programs, volunteerism and virtual internships.
You recently moved to State College; what have you liked about the area so far?
Although I moved in mid-January, my favorite things so far have been the weather and the Pennsylvania landscape. I grew up in the Midwest, so to wake up to mountains every day is beautiful. I also appreciate that although State College is not a major metro area, I’m only 3.5 hours away from DC, Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, so the big city is only a day trip away.
If you’re interested in connecting with Ashley Adams, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related Penn State News article on Ashley Adams