This week for #CSAM15, the Learn Forward team took the time to talk with Jocelyn Collen, Director of the Center for Ministry and Service at Regis College. Having taken an interesting path to student affairs, she shares some great insights and advice on how we as student affairs professionals can, and should, take care of ourselves in order to best serve our students and colleagues.
Jocelyn, it's always so interesting to learn how people land in student affairs. When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in higher education and student affairs?
I realized I wanted to pursue a career in student affairs when I was an undergrad and I had incredible experiences in Campus Ministry at Fairfield University. I felt fully alive and fully myself. I couldn’t imagine another career that would bring me as much life and joy.
Whenever I meet new colleagues, I'm always fascinated by their story. Can you tell me a little bit about your career path in in Student Affairs so far?
My path to Student Affairs/campus ministry was of course not straight! After I graduated from Fairfield, I went to Syracuse, NY, for a year of service with FrancisCorps. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after my year, and I happened to run into a campus minister from Fairfield one weekend in June. My program ended at the beginning of August. This campus minister was my favorite person at Fairfield, and the only staff/administrator that I worked with all 4 of my years at Fairfield. She asked me if I had a plan for when I finished FrancisCorps, and if I would ever consider working at Fairfield. I said I didn’t have a plan but OF COURSE I would consider working at Fairfield. There was a position open in her office, and they were interviewing people. As soon as I returned to Syracuse that night I sent an email enquiring about the position. I was told that they were looking for candidates with masters degrees (I didn’t have one!) but that I might apply anyway. I applied and 3 weeks later was offered the job after an interview! I worked in the Centers for Catholic Studies & Faith and Public Life for 2 years. This was in Academics, not Student Affairs. But, I spent many hours volunteering in student affairs as chaperones and leaders for Campus Ministry immersion trips, and school concerts, etc. I LOVED that part of being at Fairfield. I realized I needed to pursue a masters degree if I really wanted my future to be working more directly with students. SO! I applied to Boston College for a Master of Divinity. I wanted to be a minister. Three years after grueling grad school, I wanted to stay in Boston and look for ministry jobs there. But I ran into a few people from Fairfield University who told me they were looking for a campus minister. I was not interested in returning to Fairfield! But, after interviewing and being offered the position, I couldn’t say no! I had three unbelievable years at Fairfield in campus ministry! Just this past summer, I took a job as Director of The Center for Ministry & Service (Campus Ministry) at Regis College in Weston, MA. It’s very different from Fairfield, but I am learning my way around, and really excited to get to know Regis students!
What would you say are some of the challenges or turning points in your career that have influenced its direction so far?
The challenges have been listening to my feelings of frustration and discomfort. Sometimes they lead me to make a change, and move to a new job/city/training etc. Sometimes, I am just working too much or I am not taking good care of myself. Often when things wear on you, it does not mean that we move to a new place, but that we take a step back and reflect. Mentors are so important!!!! Having a team of people to call on when you don’t feel yourself is the only way that I was able to make it to where I am today.
It's time for the dreaded job interview question! Where would you say you see yourself or hope to see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
In 5-10 years, I hope to be working in a capacity to accompany people through their lives- whatever that means- wherever they are. Ideally, I will be able to accompany students, faculty and staff as they discern where God is acting in their lives.
Love that! Having been in the profession for nearly a decade, I imagine you've picked up a lot of wisdom along the way. What advice do you have for new student affairs professionals just beginning their careers, or even those of us who may be more seasoned?
Advice is to take care of yourself! Give as much love to yourself as you give to others. If you don’t care for you first you cannot care for someone else. And ask QUESTIONS! Just because something is done in a particular way, and has been done that way for years, it does not mean it is the RIGHT way to do it.
That is great advice for both new and seasoned professionals! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us about you career in student affairs. We look forward to connecting again soon and staying updated on your career path!
Click here to see all #CSAM15 posts.