Highlight a Woman: Taylor Koch!

Graduate Student. Leader. Innovator. Friend.

When I was asked to highlight a woman in technology, I immediately thought of Taylor Koch and her work in establishing the IUSPA Virtual Conference. Taylor is a second-year masters student in the Higher Education & Student Affairs (HESA) program at Indiana University and her assistantship is at IU Career Services Center. Most recently she was the 2012-2013 President for our HESA student organization, Indiana University Student Personnel Association (IUSPA).

During her tenure Taylor created and implemented the IUSPA Virtual Conference in October 2013 alongside a small group of dedicated volunteers; advancing technology as a tool to link graduate students and professionals across the country. I am thankful that she allowed me to interview her about the experience.

Creation of the Conference
Taylor’s inspiration for the conference began in learning IUSPA history. In 1976 IUSPA sponsored the first Midwest Meeting of Graduate Students in Student Personnel (MMOGSISP) which became an annual event in the field. This event originated with George Kuh, who had “the idea of bringing graduate students to interact with students from other programs.” Unfortunately the last MMOGSISP was in 2007 at IU because grad students had lost interest in traveling to short term conference; time and money were limiting factors.

So why a virtual conference? Taylor explained. “This <money and time> was the reason behind suggesting a virtual format- to allow for a free meeting of students, that could happen any time, in a variety of locations.  Additionally as technology becomes an increasing tool for student affairs professionals, I thought it would be helpful for SA professionals both experienced and new to the field, to engage with newer forms of communication.”

Taylor’s Personal Purpose
It is no easy feat to create a conference that is centered on technology and institutional partnerships – especially as a busy graduate student. So why is Taylor so invested?

“I think that IU HESA prides itself on being a leader and strong program in the field of Higher Education and Student Affairs. For this reason, I wanted to create a program that would allow IU to bring together other graduate students, and provide an innovative method of engagement. I became very interested in the history of the program and I was dedicated to reviving this part of IUSPA’s history.”

Structure
Google Hangout was selected as the platform for the conference due to its inclusive nature (Google+ accounts are free) and widespread use. More so, the platform provided an opportunity for sessions to be small and interactive.

Partnerships & Promotions
The challenge of creating a virtual conference that works across multiple campuses is promoting the event to recruit both presenters and attendees. Taylor reached out to programs throughout the Midwest, focusing on this area as MMOGSISP once did (although presenters also represented the south and west coast). Social media marketing was implemented by Niki Messmore (me, your friendly author).

Program Content
There were 11 one-hour sessions provided over a 4 day period. A variety of session topics were included, such as “A Thousand Paper Cuts: Students of Color Speak on their Experiences in the Academy”, “Breaking Down Silos: Building Connections Across Functional Areas” and “You Ask, I’ll Answer: A Virtual Fireside Chat with an Alum in the Field”. Presenters included grad students and professional staff from 9 institutions. The conference booklet can be found online here.

Challenges
“When using a virtual setting there is a certain degree of control that is lost.  Some technical issues, such as a frozen Power Point, do not allow for trouble shooting during the session.” Taylor recommended that future conference planners make time for a ‘practice run’ for presenters and facilitators to practice using the technology.

Successes
Taylor was proud of the variety of session topics and number of institutions involved. “It was great to have not only graduate students, but experienced professionals involved in the conference.  It has also been wonderful to see a strong response for those at other institutions that would like to help plan the conference in future years.”

Looking to the Future
Marketing
“Marketing is one area that I hope will greatly increase in the (hopeful) future of this conference. With the foundation of at least one year of the conference the hope is the conference will be simpler to promote and explain to potential participants.”

Participation from Partnering Institutions
Now that there is groundwork for the conference, Taylor knows that investment from other institutions will be key. “I hope that this conference can continue through both IU in collaboration with other institutions, and continue to spread to other graduate programs.”

Theme
“I think there is also potential to either create a theme for the conference, or create a list of requested/suggested topics that most interest current students/alumni/professionals. I also think that it would be great to engage more faculty both from IU and other institutions.”

Final Thoughts
What do you think, Gentle Reader? Would you be interested in participating in a Virtual Conference? Do you see this conference as a logical next step for technology, student affairs, and graduate school? Leave a comment or tweet me at @NikiMessmore

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Highlight a Woman: Taylor Koch!

Highlight A Woman: Stacy Oliver-Sikorski

By Kathryn Magura

Hello everyone! Today I have the pleasure of highlighting a woman who has not only been a pioneer of advocacy for women in Student Affairs, she is also a good friend of mine. Stacy Oliver-Sikorski has been a mainstay in the Student Affairs community on Twitter. Surprisingly, Stacy has never been featured in this series, so consider that glitch fixed!

  1. Tell us a little about yourself, and how you use technology in your professional role? I currently serve as the Associate Director of Residence Life for Student Success at Lake Forest College, a small, private liberal arts college 30 miles north of Chicago. In my role, I work primarily with housing operations — including room assignment processes , academic programming, and student conduct. Technology is imperative in my role. If our office is a bus, my role is serving as the computer in the engine. I work intently with our student information system, our conduct software, and we recently started the implementation of a housing software solution to assist with assignments and operations.
  2. What advice do you have for women looking to get into a career path of leadership in technology? Very simply, you can’t break it. People, especially women, are intimidated by technology and afraid of breaking something. I jump in, feet first, and start testing the limits of our solutions. I ask questions when I don’t see a function that would be helpful for me. I try new things. I always have a test student in each of our systems so I can run through a series of processes before launching something more widely. I meet regularly with Tonja, my colleague in IT, to talk through what I have going on in my world and what ideas she has for helping. I regularly ask her to teach me things so I can do them for myself, rather than letting her do them for me semester after semester.
  3. SLOWhen you were younger, did you ever see yourself pursuing a career in technology? Absolutely not. I’ve always been a nerd, but in different ways. This position is the first place that all of these separate interests have collided into something that finally makes sense for me.
  4. When you were younger, did you ever see yourself pursuing a career in technology? Absolutely not. I’ve always been a nerd, but in different ways. This position is the first place that all of these separate interests have collided into something that finally makes sense for me.
  5. What are some barriers for women in technology? Women are afraid to ask questions, afraid to look stupid in front of others.  But it’s through asking those questions that we learn. Women are also not always given access to technology in the way men are, even from the time they are young. Open doors for yourself, tear down walls. Even if you don’t have the solutions, asking the right questions is a perfectly valid reason to claim your seat at the technology table.
  6. Who are your female role models (student affairs or otherwise)? Oh, you don’t have time for this list. Deb Schmidt-Rogers at DePaul University is who I aspire to be; Anne Lombard at SUNY-ESF is my cherished mentor of 11 years; Kristen Abell at UMKC is someone whose courage and passion is awe inducing; Kathy Collins at Michigan State University is a force in this field and in my life.
  7. If you were one of the seven dwarves, which would you be and why? Sneezy. I’m allergic to EVERYTHING. I sneeze twice every morning while eating a banana, and I have no idea why (neither does my allergist). 🙂

 

Thank you for sharing your story, Stacy!

Highlight A Woman: Stacy Oliver-Sikorski

Highlight a Woman – Jenny Muschinske

by Lauren Creamer

Jenny Muschinske is one-of-a-kind. She knows what she wants, goes for it, and doesn’t stop until she gets it. She is bold. She is funny and quick to laughter. She puts forth quality work in all aspects of her life. Jenny is one lady I would not mess with.

Jenny graduated from Northeastern University this past May. Like the rest of her cohort-mates, her goal was to have secured a job by the end of the summer. She cast a wide net, as she was set on staying in Boston. Much of her experience lay in student activities and late-night programming, so her aim was to be doing something along those lines. She loves to work directly with students and appreciates the personal interaction that is required when directing and event on the ground. When she wasn’t advising students or doing physical labor herself, she was promoting events through social media – not uncommon for student activities folks. The majority of her experience utilizing technology was focused on developing a following for her events and programs on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

As the summer wandered to an end, Jenny began to apply to jobs increasingly outside of her comfort zone. She was open to trying something new (and really wanted a job… we all did). So, she applied to an administrative assistant position… and was surprised to find she got a call for a completely different job. A few weeks later, Jenny began her position as Assistant Director of the Student Activities Business Office at Northeastern University. (Some stroke of luck, right?!). Jenny wanted to stay in Boston and she got exactly that. (I told you she gets what she wants).

Having spent some years in the field before graduate school, Jenny felt like she was ready to take on this new position. Her job focused changed from heavy student interaction to spending most of her time in front of a computer. When I asked Jenny how she was coping with the increased use of technology (specifically, outside of her wheel house), this was her response:

“It’s a big adjustment going from a role where I was face-to-face interacting with students 90% of the day, to one where much of my interaction happens online.”

Part of Jenny’s role is to approve program funding for Residential Life programs through the still-developing eRezLife software. Instead of spending time brainstorming around a table and submitting paper forms, Resident Assistants are required to plan and track all of their programming efforts in this system.

“I think there are pros and cons to the increased accessibility of doing programming online now.” Jenny says, ” it’s convenient for the students and it helps me to manage my day [instead of running meeting to meeting], but it takes away from the brainstorming that happens when students and staff meet face-to-face to talk about campus programming.”

I asked Jenny how she would like to see eRezLife evolve to encourage more collaboration and she shared the following:

“It’s hard to say so early on, but I’d love to see a message board of some sort where RAs can share successes and challenges. I see so many students submitting proposals for programs that weren’t successful in the past – it would be great to see them sharing these things with each other in the very program they are utilizing.”

And for now? Jenny will keep learning the ropes in her new role and maybe, one day, will get to implement some of the changes she’d love to see.

Highlight a Woman – Jenny Muschinske

Highlight a Woman: Roopika Risam

By Brenda Bethman

For this round of “highlight a woman,” we went outside the field of student affairs to focus on digital humanities. Roopika Risam, the subject of this post, recently completed her Ph.D in English at Emory University and just started a position as an assistant professor at Salem State University. Despite the hectic schedule that entails, she was kind enough to answer my questions and I am very pleased to introduce her to SAWTT readers.

Can you describe your background? Degrees, current and previous positions.

B.A. in English and South Asian Studies from University of Pennsylvania, M.A. in English from Georgetown University, Ph.D. in English from Emory University. Currently Assistant Professor of World Literature and English Education at Salem State University.

Taught high school for four years before graduate school, worked with pedagogy and tech throughout grad school at the Center for New Designs in Learning and Technology at Georgetown and the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence.

What inspired you to work with technology in addition to a “traditional” field? Was it your original plan when attending college?

From an early age, I definitely gravitated towards technology, enjoyed tinkering with it, in college taught myself HTML, Flash, later CSS. But it wasn’t until I worked at the Center for New Designs in Learning and Technology (CNDLS) at Georgetown that technology became more than a hobby. There, I was introduced to what I now recognize as “digital pedagogy” and “digital humanities” – though we weren’t calling it that at the time. I had the opportunity to participate in prototype development for a range of projects including digital storytelling, course wiki notebooks, and the MyDante teaching tool for the Divine Comedy. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was working under a group of leaders and visionaries in educational technology but it led me to think critically about how to integrate technology in the classroom – and why – and to consider how what had previously been a hobby might fit into my scholarship. My scholarship has been largely guided by a political commitment to questions of solidarity across dividing lines of race, national, class, gender, and so forth, and its relationship to imperialism. It ultimately occurred to me that technology has any number of (fluid) roles in relation to solidarities and imperialisms – whether we’re talking about the role of Twitter in the “Arab Spring” demonstrations, outsourced technologies, Indians brought to Silicon Valley on temporary H1-b visas for their labor, or black and brown women around the world whose labor produces the components that comprise technologies. These concerns at the intersections of postcolonial studies and technology that led me to co-found Postcolonial Digital Humanities (#dhpoco) with Adeline Koh.

What role do you feel women play in technology within higher education?

Increasingly, we’re seeing greater participation from women, but more significantly, we’re seeing concrete results from that participation: greater attention to the relationship between gender and technology, from gendered expectations that have shaped our experiences with technology to gendered expectations in the workplace. As we see greater involvement from women of color, we add challenges to expectations based on race, ethnicity, or nationality to that mix. Moreover, we model engagement with technologies for our students – and it’s very important for them to see women working with technology.

What advice would you give other women interested in working with technology?

As in many other fields, we often feel like we have to do everything  – know every technology, code in every language – to keep up with male colleagues. To some degree, women in technology do still have to “prove” themselves in ways men don’t necessarily have to, going back to the gendered expectations by which technology is encumbered. My advice is to keep on top of technologies but be realistic about how much can be mastered and how quickly. Yes, some of the expectations derive from those external, gendered expectations but some are also the result of imposter syndrome and our own worries or anxieties about our relationship to technology. Don’t let imposter syndrome become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?

Traveling off the beaten path, hiking, tennis.

Highlight a Woman: Roopika Risam

Highlighting a Woman in Tech and Student Affairs: Debra Sanborn

By Jennifer Keegin

This week I’ve decided to highlight Debra Sanborn, Program Director in the Dean of Students Office at Iowa State University. Debra Sanborn has a Ph.D in Education from Iowa State University and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communication studies from the University of Northern Iowa. Developer of student programming, first-year experience, retention initiatives, admissions and marketing, Debra is also a facilitator of student community collaboration for collegiate success. She directs selection and enrollment of 100 new students to scholarship programs annually and provides first-year to graduation learning, academic advising, and programs blending resources and networking to enhance student success.

Current research is focused on factors of psychological type pertaining to student success which is what I wanted to highlight today. I first met Debra in real life at the very first #NASPAtech in Newport, RI a few years ago. I had been following her online and it was great to meet her for real. She has a great sense of humor and is a fun person.

In April, this tweet started a whole strand of discussion on Twitter:

After many retweets and replies and etc. Debra decided to poll the Student Affairs folks on Twitter about their MTBI identities.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) is the most common instrument for determining psychological type preferences utilized in business, personal coaching and higher education. It asks a series of self-report forced-choice questions to define opposing preferences for personal energy, acquiring information, making decisions, and organizing one’s world.

The survey produced the type preferences of 129 student affairs colleagues. More than half of those responding were female. Residence Life was the most common area of employment in student affairs. The most frequent type preferences were ENFJ (n = 21), INFJ (n = 16) and ENTJ (n = 14).

Utilizing social media, Debra was able to find a connecting point for many professionals in the field. If you’d like to read her entire blog post, please check it out here. Make sure to read the comments for more discussion that followed.

If you’d like to follow Debra on Twitter her handle is @DebraSanborn.

 

 

Highlighting a Woman in Tech and Student Affairs: Debra Sanborn

Highlight a Woman: Jennielle Strother @EMjennielle

by Jess Faulk

There are great women out in the world doing great things.  Powerful women, inspiring women, and influential women.  Yet sometimes there are so many loud male voices it is hard to hear the voices of women, especially in fields where we are outnumbered – such as technology.  Women tend to contribute, to add value, and play support roles.  There is nothing wrong with that, support is important, but without female leaders, it is harder for women to see the value they bring into a space.  We need leaders, women that are willing to be in the front of the room, pulling together other women, and creating spaces to gain confidence.

I was recently watching Ed Cabellon’s Student Affairs Live broadcast on the #SATech Unconferences being created all over the country.  One of Ed’s guest, Jennielle Strother, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Seminary of the Southwest, spoke about creating a #satechTX focusing on Women in Technology.  I was impressed with Jennielle Strother to take the new (and spreading) #SATech concept, and make it unique by adding this focal area.

One of the reasons I blog for SA Women Talk Tech is because I feel like it is important for us to add female perspectives into the world of technology.  It shows other women that they also can be techie people, and it shows the world it is not a field solely dominated by women.  I am so excited by the fact that #satechTX created a space for that understanding and appreciation.  Jennielle and Michelle Lopez (@chellelopez)’s #SATech conference also shared the inspirational voices of Teri Bump (@tbump), Vice President of University Relations/Student Development at American Campus Communities and Dr. Gage E. Paine (@GagePaine), first female Vice President of Student Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. They created an important space for connection, learning, and creation.

From her bio: Jennielle Strother oversees recruitment, admissions, social media, and financial aid at the   Seminary of the Southwest, in Austin, TX.  She created a weekly twitter chat, #EMchat (Enrollment Management chat) and the #EMchat blog, so that higher education enrollment professionals have the platform to connect and share ideas about the enrollment management industry.

Check out what Jennielle is up to online by following her on one of her channels:

Thanks Jennielle for being an awesome woman in tech!

Highlight a Woman: Jennielle Strother @EMjennielle

Highlight a Woman: Lisa Endersby!

By Kathryn Magura

I seem to be highlighting a lot of awesome people through this blog lately, which just makes my top Strength of Individualization immensely happy. This week I have the pleasure of writing a Highlight a Woman post, and the first thing I did was search through all our previous highlights to make sure I would highlight someone who has not been mentioned here before. To my surprise, the one and only Ms. Lisa Endersby has never been featured in this series! Whelp, that glitch is about to get fixed!

How do you describe Lisa? Not sure there are words that can give Lisa’s energy justice. I first connected with Lisa via the #sachat community on Twitter, and was immediately struck by two things: 1). Lisa’s ability to reach out and engage with a variety of people about any number of topics. and 2). How much fun Lisa has in everything she does.

This past winter, Lisa had the opportunity to to speak at a TEDx event in Toronto. If you have not had a chance to watch her talk, I encourage you to spend the next 14 minutes watching this video:

“How will you dare to teach today?” SO GOOD!

Lisa prides herself on being a life-long learner, and I think this spirit of learning is infectious to all who have the chance to interact with her. I encourage you to spend some time reading through Lisa’s blog and taking some time to learn from a talented Student Affairs professional.

Highlight a Woman: Lisa Endersby!