Meet R5 Board Member Kathryn Kay Coquemont

April 18, 2017

Kathryn Kay Coquemont, Membership Coordinator-Utah
Director of New Student & Family Programs

University of Utah
[email protected]    @katcoquemont
Years in the Profession: 11

Why did you get into student affairs?
Transitions are difficult, and it is meaningful when I can help others move through them successfully in a way that encourages self-confidence, self-authorship, and a sense of belonging. I worked in change management for business consulting before moving to higher education. It was a wonderful experience, but there is something special about working with students and their families. Perhaps it is the vulnerability or the incredible trust they have in us and the institutions we represent that makes a career in student affairs undeniably meaningful work.

What do you find meaningful in your work?
Equity and access are what keeps me in higher education. As I have continued in this profession, I see how many barriers there are for historically marginalized populations and believe we need more professionals (not just those who work in equity and access) who are doing everything they can to change oppressive structures that do not allow all students the ability to achieve success equally.

What are you doing to ensure equity and inclusion are part of your everyday practice?
My commitment to social justice, equity, and inclusion runs through every professional role, association leadership position, and professional development opportunity in which I have engaged. This commitment has allowed me to learn from both my successes and my mistakes when working as an advocate and an ally. I am thankful for the brave voices of undocumented/DACAmented students who reveal pressure points that I can help relieve within my office’s processes, or the way my team enacts policies that allow gender queer/transgender students to be known by the pronouns that they use. I am continually amazed by my privilege of having a positional power to make small institutional changes with a big impact. It is important to stay on top of current research regarding minoritized populations so that I can educate myself about ways my team and I can continue to improve. This has shaped my research, publications, and doctoral work by pointing me towards an increased interest in intercultural humility, pancultural identities, and diverse ways of knowing. I currently am chairing a committee for NODA to create more intentionality regarding diversity and inclusion in their strategic plan and structure. I also believe one of the best ways to ensure social change is to hire people who understand why it is important and will work with you to move the needle. I am thankful to have an amazing team who together move my Center's work forward in a way that centers social justice in the decisions we make.

If you didn't go into student affairs, what profession do you think you would have chosen and why?
I started in business consulting with a focus on change management for large financial institutions. I really enjoyed that and would probably still be in that sector if Student Affairs had not lured me away.

If you could have a super power, what would it be and why?
The power of persuasion, so that I could be more efficient with my time. Although it would be really useful with my job, it would be more useful at home with my kids…

What is your favorite non-work weekend activity?
Travelling and adventuring.

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