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HEA Current Student Profiles

photo Name: Karina Evora
Hometown: Pawtucket, RI
Undergraduate Institution: University of Miami 
Track and Graduation Date: Enrollment Management and Policy, Spring 2016

Why did you choose to attend Vanderbilt?

One of the biggest reasons I chose to attend Vanderbilt is the structure of the two-year program. I believe it allows students to take the time to explore the various aspects of Higher Education in order to confidently identify an ideal track. I also chose Vanderbilt because of the accessibility to an amazing group of faculty, the quality and holistic nature of the program, and the location, of course! I’ve been told over and over again how Nashville is such a great city and I am excited to begin exploring it. 

What are your career goals and how does the HEA program support them?

I hope to make an impact on the many issues revolving around college access for low-income and underrepresented minorities. Although my most recent work has been that of an administrator in a secondary school, I feel that by obtaining my master’s degree in this program, I will gain a broader insight on the foundation of the issues at hand and be able to tackle them with the resources of an administrator at the college/university level. 


photo Name: Bill Smith
Hometown: Lancaster, PA
Undergraduate Institution: Gettysburg College
Track and Graduation Date: Undecided, Spring 2016

Why did you choose to attend Vanderbilt?

I worked in college access for two years after undergrad, and I wanted to take the next step to open more doors in the world of Higher Education. Two things pulled me to Vanderbilt. First, the professors are extremely friendly, caring, and available as well as some of the best in the world at what they do. Second, I was drawn to the program length. The two-year format means that there is a second year cohort who can (and absolutely will) support you through the program and towards your overall goals in amazing ways.

What are your career goals and how does the HEA program support them?

I have two interests right now, college access and STEM policy. The HEA program has been flexible in allowing me to pursue both interests academically and professionally. I am not sure whether I want to work at the institutional level or for the government at the state or federal level or for a policy institute, but I’ve been able to make many connections with people in all of these sectors. My professors have been fantastic at getting me up to date on all of the big ideas and current research in these diverse areas.


Student Name: Beth Hesse
Hometown: Orlando, FL
Undergraduate Institution: Xavier University
Track/Graduation Date: Student Affairs, Spring 2016

Why did you choose to attend Vanderbilt?
When I started my exploration of graduate schools, Peabody kept coming up as a top school for education, including its higher education program which I was specifically interested in. I really liked how the HEA program offered different track specializations within higher education while allowing flexibility for students to take classes in other areas of interest and truly get a more well-rounded experience. As someone who was returning to school after working for six years, I was also really drawn, and ultimately chose Vanderbilt, for the emphasis on career readiness and job placement, as this was very important to me.

What are your career goals and how does the HEA program support them?
I have many varied career interests, and the HEA program is very supportive as a program, as I have been able to connect with and gain insight from my cohort members and faculty about different types of jobs and what each might entail. The cohort structure really allows for that immediate networking and information sharing, supportive environment and I really appreciate that as I always have people I can ask for help. Additionally, everyone at Vanderbilt that I have encountered is extremely helpful and always willing to make connections, provide and connect you with resources, and answer any questions you may have. As I continue to discern what my career path will be, I have been afforded practical experience thus far in numerous areas I am interested in, including academic advising and health and wellness. I have the wonderful students, staff, and faculty at Vanderbilt to thank for that! And Peabody Career Services rocks too and has been a huge source of support for me as well!


Student Name: Justin Hua
Hometown: Delray Beach, FL
Undergraduate Institution: Davidson College
Track/Graduation Date: Student Affairs/May 2015

Why did you choose to attend Vanderbilt?
I chose Vanderbilt because of the impressive resources, because of the faculty, research conducted in the department and throughout Peabody, and because of the school’s reputation. Financially, it was also the most economical choice out of the programs I was considering at the time. The two-year cohort model also afforded me the time to think critically and intentionally as I planned my next step(s); the two-year cohort model also allowed me to get to know and establish life-long connections with this incredible cadre of educators and leaders. Lastly, I also appreciate the stable work-life balance and community of Nashville; I love the dynamic of living in a vibrant, up-and-coming metropolitan area with a rich history of education reform and civil rights.

What are your career goals and how does the HEA program support them?
In the short term, my plan is to secure an entry-to-mid-level student affairs professional experience that will also support my doctoral education pursuits. In the long term, my dream is to serve in a senior leadership role in student affairs while also pursuing scholarly research on identity development amongst college student populations, particularly with marginalized students of color attending PWIs. I am also compelled to study development of AAPI students' social consciousness by way of collegial environments and student organizations. The HEA program does an incredible job providing me with the broad-based competence in higher education administration. Additionally, through my graduate assistantship, practicum work, and part-time work/research with various offices around the university, I feel confident in my transitioning to a professional workplace after graduation. I feel supported by our Peabody Career Services office and the Vanderbilt network.


Student Name: Natalie Richardson
Hometown: Cantrall, Illinois
Undergraduate Institution: Lincoln Land Community College (A.A.), Illinois State University (B.S.)
Track/ Graduation Date: General- Leadership & Organizational Performance within Higher Education Administration/ May 2016

Why did you choose to attend Vanderbilt?
It was located in the warmest climate of all of the graduate schools I was choosing between. I am from central Illinois (a.k.a. Snow/Ice Land), so I was looking for a change. I know this is an embarrassing answer, but it is honest.

What are your career goals and how does the HEA program support them?
My career goals include integrating my passion for helping organizations improve their organizational culture and leadership styles with my passion for higher education. Vanderbilt helps me do this by allowing me to create my own "track" that ties my two passions together. Also, the many opportunities to learn from incredibly brilliant university administrators at a top tier university has taught me so much and truly helped me shape my goals and future aspirations.