Meet Maria Francese!
Where are you working right now?
Currently I am in my 2nd year as a GA in the Office of Student Activities at Springfield College. I have advised clubs and organizations such as the Campus Activities Board, Sti-Yu-Ka Spring Week committee, Live @ Lunch programming, and worked with our multiple orientation programs.
What do you love about working there?
Going into my Graduate program I thought I wanted to do academic advising. Looking back now, I can’t see myself doing anything but student activities. I love the team of people I get to work with and the collaborative nature of the campus. I am challenged every day in my role and always learn something new about myself and my students. We laugh, we have fun, we work very hard and have tremendous support from upper administration. Programming has given me new strengths and I enjoy the fast paced and entrepreneurial mindset it requires.
When you aren’t working, how do you spend your free time?
I love being outdoors. I adopted a Basset Hound/Beagle mix named Molly about 8 months ago. My boyfriend and I love taking her on adventures and she’s a ton of fun. I also love to cook and try new recipes, which I do most Sunday afternoons.
What is your favorite grad school class and why?
My favorite class is one I’m in this semester called Psychology in Organizations. It is actually an elective course that’s not part of the Higher Ed program. I love it because it has covered many relevant topics that we don’t always get out of our theory and counseling based classes. In this class we’ve learned leadership development, supervising techniques, stress management, interviewing styles and even human resources policy and procedure. I was a business major as an undergraduate so I appreciate the connections I could make to both a business setting and student affairs.
Who inspired you to get involved in Higher Education?
I don’t think I can point to one particular person who inspired me. I think as a business major there was pressure to land a good paying job at a big name company by your junior or senior year. But, for some reason I just kept pursuing on campus leadership opportunities instead of trying to land an internship in my field. My career counselor who was also one of my business professors definitely helped the light bulb go off. She helped me match my passion and my skill set which perfectly aligned with a career in higher education.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in your career (so far)?
“Hard work beats talent”. This is a lesson I learned as a student-athlete as well. No matter what, there will always be people better than you, smarter than you, more prepared than you, or more confident than you. But, there is no substitute for good old fashioned hard work. People respect hard work at all levels in a career.
What is on your Higher Ed bucket list?
Short term, I would love to join a committee for a professional organization- NODA, NASPA or NACA. These organizations are so inspiring to me and I would love to volunteer and be able to contribute to them.
Long term, my next degree will be an MBA. My roots are in business as I mentioned and I would ultimately love to get back to the classroom and teach business management classes, especially for first-year students.
What advice would you offer to undergraduate seniors who are starting to search for grad programs?
Be as open minded as possible! I can’t stress this enough. I said 10,000 times how much I didn’t want to come to Springfield College because “that’s what everyone from Western New England does”. I also said how much I didn’t want student activities because “programming wasn’t for me”. Well, turns out both decisions were the best I ever made!