In support of Careers in Student Affairs month, members of the Assessment, Evaluation, and Research (AER) Knowledge Community share their story of how they got their start in Student Affairs and how their role working in assessment has shaped their practice. We hope these stories help inspire others to further a career in student affairs and discover where a journey in student affairs assessment can take them.
Please welcome Pamelyn Klepal Shefman, Director of Assessment and Planning at the University of Houston and Co-chair-elect for the AER KC.
- How did you get your start in Student Affairs?
From undergrad, I went to work as a residential hall director for a small college in West Virginia. It was the 1990’s… so it probably would not happen that way today. I had extensive residential life experience in my undergrad and there was nothing that sent me a red flag (because I was also just 21). Also, the school was tiny with under 1,000 students at the time and I was one of the 5 full time staff in all of student affairs. So I also oversaw student programs, part of the “student union” and other duties as assigned. Tons of great experience but I was in way over my head and stuck it out for a year before I realized I needed a master’s degree if I ever wanted to leave West Virginia.
- What do you do in your position?
I work closely with 29 student affairs and enrollment service areas (which means not the classrooms) to tell the story of our cumulative impact. I also work on strategic planning and continuous improvement for the division and the departments I serve.
- What advice do you have for those interested in exploring a career or role heavily rooted in Student Affairs Assessment?
Get exposure to all parts of what student affairs is. You can help well if you know and understand why a department does what they do. Also, you earn street smarts and credibility along the way.
- What is your favorite part about your role in Student Affairs assessment?
It is the ultimate generalist role. I have loved the depth of student affairs knowledge I have gained about so many different areas. There is also never a day where I am doing the same thing as the day before.
- What is one challenging lesson learned that you gained through your role with assessment?
Trust the process. Even when people miss deadlines or are incomplete it is part of the process.
- How has your role in assessment shaped your practice?
I am more of a listener than ever. I look for the spark and the cues that others share and that is where I can see where what they do is relevant and impactful to student success.
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