Former Associate Director of Student Engagement
“During an undergraduate internship, I realized that human resources was less about the people and more about compliance,” says Dana. “That didn’t align with my interests, so I pursued a master of arts in organizational leadership, and I fell in love with student affairs.”
In her first role at The University of Chicago, Dana managed over 90 academy and arts student organizations, helping students balance coursework and engagement opportunities. Most recently, she served as the Program Director for Campus Life on Loyola University’s Water Tower Campus, where she built community and increased visibility among graduate and professional students.
“When you’re talking about graduate students, you’re talking about very different populations,” she explains. “The needs of a law student are going to be vastly unlike the needs of a social work student. I tried to determine the commonalities between the groups in order to find a student voice for these populations.”
Under her leadership at Loyola, graduate students gained representation on the University senate, expanded student programming and events, and created a Black Lives Matter conference that receives permanent annual funding.
At Northwestern University, Dana’s focus narrowed to graduate students working towards a PhD or master’s degree. “Their interaction and longevity in the community is a different and new challenge for me,” Dana says. “But, it is one that excites me. The evolution that you see in the student’s experience over time is extremely unique.”
When graduate students arrive at school, they are typically at a different life stage than undergraduates. Most likely, they have already navigated a higher educational environment and will expect more autonomy. Many students experience imposter’s syndrome, though, and believe they need to come into their programs as subject matter experts. One of Dana’s goals is to help students navigate their workload and personal life in order to have a holistic framework for success.
“A common misconception is that graduate students no longer need support,” says Dana. “They absolutely do. Their academics are our primary concern, but we have to do all that we can to support them along the way.”
In her first six months, Dana built connections across campus and worked directly with students to identify their needs. She serves as the go-to person for all student organizations, but she hopes students see her as a resource for finding a home on campus. She looks forward to mapping out resources and services in a transparent format for students.