NECPA Award Winner Spotlight- Phitsamay Uy

Academic Excellence Award Winner- Phitsamay Uy

What do you love most about working at UMass – Lowell?

The students, staff, and faculty. My first generation, immigrant and refugee students of color are amazing and resilient. The students teach me so much and give me hope in these trying times. They remind me daily why I went into education in the first place. In addition, the staff and faculty are also so caring and dedicated. These people make me feel proud to be part of a community that supports students to reach their potential.

Who inspired you to get involved in Higher Education?

It was my Southeast Asian community. As a refugee community, our elders struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder from the Secret War in Laos, Killing Fields of Cambodia, and the Vietnam War and their children struggle with a high dropout rate due to their families lack of resources and lack of familiarity with U.S. school systems. As one of the few Southeast Asian educators nationwide, I feel compelled to ensure that there is support and encouragement of Southeast Asian and other minority students in higher education so they can help lift our communities out of poverty and struggle.

What advice would you offer to new professionals who are starting their first professional position?

As a higher education educator, I like using acronyms. So my advice is SEAK:

S— seek out a mentor/ally who you can bounce ideas, share advice and become your cheerleader

E—educate yourself on the cultural norms of your new position: what are the shared beliefs and values of your profession?   Learning about these will help you navigate this professional world.

A—always ask questions about people and their life interest; you want to get to know people outside of your work duties to help build rapport and community with your colleagues

K—keep your identity central to your work. You are a unique individual with wonderful experiences to share with others. Make sure you never compromise your identity because no one else can be you like you are!

NECPA Award Winner Spotlight- Patrick Love

Pillar of Mentorship Award Winner- Patrick Love

What do you love most about working at Springfield College?

Wow, I can’t pick just one:

1. The fact that the entire community  of students, staff, and faculty lives out the institutional mission of educating the whole person in spirit, mind, body for leadership in service to others. It is an incredible thing to experience first hand and EVERY day!

2. How welcoming the students have been and how engaged they are.

3. Working for a great president (Mary-Beth Cooper) and with a great VP leadership team.

4. The 6 minute walk from my house to my office (after 18 years of LONG NYC commutes!).

Who inspired you to get involved in Higher Education?

Well, one person was Mike Stein, the advisor of the peer judicial board (who was a hall director). He showed me that people could do this work for a living. The other was my RA who did such a terrible job that I felt I could do better than that, so I applied to be an RA, which led me to people who helped me see this as a career path. So, while there were many positive role models throughout my career who have inspired me (e.g., Jerry Stein [Stony Brook], Susan Komives {U of Maryland], John Murphy [SUNY Albany]) there was this one who was a negative role model whose performance inspired me to do better!

What advice would you offer to new professionals who are starting their first professional position?

I have 4 pieces of advice:

1. Always do your absolute best. In fact, do more than expected.

2. Follow through on your commitments.

3. When bringing problems to your boss also bring possible solutions.

4. Don’t complain at work (save it for loving friends and supportive family members!).

NECPA Award Winner Spotlight- Musbah Shaheen

Graduate Student of the Year Winner- Musbah Shaheen

What do you love most about working at University of Vermont?

My favorite part about UVM is the people who have supported me and helped me grow and develop. My mentors, advisors, and friends have all made the experience here at the University of Vermont so rich and fulfilling.

Who inspired you to get involved in Higher Education?

My undergraduate experience was very empowering in that my involvements on campus helped me become more authentic and to form meaningful relationships with people.

I also had a fantastic mentor who took me under her wing and helped me make sense of who I am and who I want to be. My mentor illuminated to me how a career in higher education could help me fulfill my goals in creating change and supporting others. Seeing how my mentor carried herself in her work and personal life continues to be an inspiration to me.

What advice would you offer to new professionals who are starting their first professional position?

Be true to your values and find ways to incorporate those values into your work. Find ways to support the institution without compromising your voice and narrative.

There is so much to learn out there so be open to new perspectives. The students I work with have taught me so much about myself and how I could be a better support system for others.

NECPA Award Winner Spotlight- Brian Mannion

Access and Inclusion Award Winner- Brian Mannion

What do you love most about working at Endicott College?

I love working at Endicott College because I love working with emerging adults on developing a greater understanding of who they are and how they fit into their world.  As a therapist I get the unique ability to work with students in the clinical setting as well as through student affairs programming. I have been so grateful to Endicott for all the opportunities to develop new programming to support our students of diverse backgrounds and identities.

Who inspired you to get involved in Higher Education?

My journey into Higher Education was a unique one as I am a Mental Health Therapist by training.  In college I wanted to be a school counselor until my mentor inspired me to look more broadly at what I could do in the field of Mental Health.  Ultimately, in my graduate program I interned at a college counseling center and fell in love with the emerging adult population. I am inspired by the unique opportunity that our students have to redefine themselves and how they understand the world around them.

What advice would you offer to new professionals who are starting their first professional position?

For those starting out in their first professional position I would encourage them to keep an open mind.  I started here with purely clinical pursuits in mind; it wasn’t until a colleague asked me to co-advise the LGBTQ club on our campus that I started looking outside my individual clinical work.  There are an infinite number of ways to accomplish your goals so make sure to remain open to all the possible opportunities, perspectives, and people that you will meet throughout your career. My other piece of advice is to remember that burnout is a real thing.  We do complex and hard work so it is important to take the time you need for yourself to recharge!