Q. What is the field of student affairs in higher education?
A. Student affairs professionals contribute to student life at colleges or universities — they help undergraduates get the total college experience. If it’s a program that helps students have satisfying experiences outside of the classroom, that’s an area our graduate students study. They may eventually work in a large variety of areas like admissions, career services, enrollment, financial aid, first-year experience programs, Greek affairs, residential life, student activities and student health.
Q. Why is this field important?
A. Student affairs professionals make student life more convenient, enriched or fun, which makes for happy students and helps institutions retain students until graduation. These careers are rewarding for the professionals and the students, and beneficial to their institutions.
Q. What types of students do you see in the program?
A. We have all kinds of people who decide their career paths should lead them back to campus. Some recently received undergraduate degrees and know they want to work in higher education. We also have a lot of full-time professionals who are already working at colleges and universities who want to learn new things or move into new career opportunities. We mentor our students to teach them to develop their own goals and research agendas so they get the individualized experiences they need out of this program.
Q. What types of jobs may graduates get?
A. We have multiple graduates who now work at Missouri State or other local institutions, as well as graduates who have taken jobs at institutions all over the country. Our alumni work as admissions officers, residence hall directors, coordinators of student services, assistant directors for orientation programs, academic advisors and more.
Q. Why would you recommend Missouri State’s program?
A. The most successful job seekers in this field will have definite achievements that make their resumes stand out. We give students those achievements in several ways. For one thing, we have a “cohort” system — that means most of the students who enter this program will stay together, taking the same classes at the same time the whole way through. This helps the students learn from each other. These people make professional associations and help each other with class assignments and, eventually, networking and job searches. Next, we have a lot of support from the University. Many of our students work as graduate assistants in student affairs areas around campus. This gives them experience in their fields while helping them pay for school.
Q. What is your favorite place on campus?
A. I spend a lot of time in the library — it’s a place where I can go to prepare for my classes or just read. It also has great resources to support my research interests.
Q. What do you do outside the classroom?
A. I spend a lot of time with family. My wife is Dr. Grace Jackson-Brown, who teaches library science. We have two grown children who live in different cities, and we just got a kitten. I also follow college basketball. I got my undergraduate degree at the University of Kansas, so the Jayhawks are my favorite team. I got my doctorate at Indiana University Bloomington and I worked there for about 20 years, so I also follow the Hoosiers. And of course I love the Bears!