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OSU-OKC student affairs professionals complete state Leadership Academy

Leadership Academy provides participants with insights into a wide range of issues

OKLAHOMA CITY – Five student affairs professionals from Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City recently completed the Council on Student Affairs’ 2018-19 Leadership Academy.

The Council on Student Affairs (COSA) is an advisory council to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education on topics related to student affairs and enrollment and consists of a representative from every college and university in the state of Oklahoma.

One critical objective of COSA’s annual Leadership Academy is professional development. The academy consists of seven workshops held throughout the school year hosted by college campuses across the state. The workshops are designed to cover a wide range of topics and issues.

“Potential candidates for COSA’s Leadership Academy must complete an application process. We had five people selected to attend – some campuses only have one – so we were grateful multiple members of our staff were able to participate," said Kyle Williams, senior director of enrollment management at Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC).

The five OSU-OKC professionals – Christina Young, Venesha Lankster, Jennifer Hernandez, Alfredo Melchor and TerJuana Brooks – were part of a larger class of 25 fellows from 14 institutions across the state of Oklahoma.

Upon completing the academy, as OSU-OKC’s five participants reflected on what they learned, they described a meaningful experience that provided them with valuable knowledge and that at times surprised them with unexpected insights.

Hernandez was inspired to learn what other campuses are doing in student affairs.

“I never expected this to be such a great networking opportunity,” said Hernandez, a transitional academic advisor. “Learning what other campuses are doing got the wheels turning on how we can move forward and implement innovative programs here at OSU-OKC.”

Young, an enrollment management specialist, said she was grateful to learn about issues she might deal with in the future.

“I know a lot about how to do my job. I know a lot about admissions, recruitment, and enrollment, but I didn’t know a lot about student affairs in general,” Young said. “I learned so much in the workshops by being exposed to other issues that I may face as my career moves forward.”

Brooks, a recruitment specialist, said she attended COSA’s Leadership Academy because she wanted to learn how to be a better leader.

"I admire good leadership, so I appreciated learning about how to address diversity, legal issues, and various enrollment strategies, and how to become a better leader,” Brooks said.

Lankster, a recruitment specialist and avowed technology fan, was enthusiastic about learning how one campus is using Alexa, Amazon's cloud-based voice service that offers intuitive ways for people to interact with everyday technology.  

“I am a fan of technology and learning how we can integrate it into student services,” she said. “We had the opportunity to see what other people are doing with software and systems and that included how one campus is using Alexa in their housing to help students with finding what they need, with checking their class schedule, and things like that.”

Melchor is an academic advisor and he said the COSA Leadership Academy helped him connect all the dots and understand student affairs and current issues within his profession.

“Higher education is truly like a living, evolving organism,” Melchor said. “Things in general change a lot quicker than they did 100 years ago, and it’s essential to be knowledgeable, adaptable, and nimble to meet the needs of the students we serve.”