Sylvia JaureguiHall Coordinator
What do you enjoy most about working at MU?
As a Latina from Texas, my first thought about coming to a Midwest university was that I might not find a group of people I could identify with or organizations to be involved in. I'm glad to say that MU exceeded my expectations in this area. With the level of support I received from Residential Life and other campus departments, I've found a place that meets my personal and professional needs. I am personally involved in the Hispanic Faculty Staff Association and feel supported by the department to continue my involvement. I love the atmosphere of campus. It's a large place with many students, but it has a "small town" feel to it. I've also found many opportunities to get involved with the minority student community at MU, both within my professional position and outside it. I feel a great responsibility as a resource for minority students who seek an approachable person whom they can relate to and share their experience with as well as being an advocate for them. Also, I would like to say that the challenge of working with my Learning Community-interacting with Faculty, Staff, and Students on a regular basis keeps me going. The department also provides you autonomy to make the decisions that will most benefit your students and community.
What is your favorite part of working with students?
We have a wonderful student population that is very educated, highly involved, and are huge supporters of the institution. I respect them for challenging authority appropriately and respectfully when they want answers to questions. I would like to add that my graduate school advisor once said, "Women and men create themselves. It is our work to open the doors of possibility to them, guiding and supporting them in their changes of becoming." That is what I enjoy the most; being that vehicle of change that assists our students as they transition into becoming global citizens.
Tell us about your experiences with the student staff at Mizzou.
Our student staff is amazing. They are highly motivated and dedicated to make the residential experience AMAZING for all involved. They are in it for the right reasons which is to create conducive learning environments in their respective halls. They really do "get it".
What do you enjoy about Columbia?
I have come to really love Columbia in the years I have been here. It is not too big or too small yet you have Kansas City and St. Louis within driving distance. There is a great sense of community between MIZZOU and Columbia. It is a friendly city with great shops, restaurants, and just great people. Also, you are geographically close to other major cities such as Chicago, Nashville, and Memphis.
Why did you choose Mizzou?
I initially sought out to find an institution that worked with Learning Communities and Freshmen Interest Groups. This is definitely the place to gain that valuable experience. I had all types of Student Affairs experience but lacked the residential life perspective and this was just the perfect fit for me. In addition, I absolutely love the campus climate and the traditions! Tap Day is amazing and Homecoming is just awesome. The Columns themselves just provide you with such a rich sense of history like no other campus I have been on. It is amazing how the community embraces the university & its students and just catches that Tiger Spirit. You can see it from the banners they hang on their businesses during Homecoming, to the paws on the highway exit ramps, to the Black and Gold spirit days on campus. It's just simply a great time to be a Tiger!
What are some typical tasks during a work week for you?
There is no such thing as a typical day or work week but they are always fun filled and full of tasks that need to be completed. On different days I typically work on emails, administrative work, judicial conduct hearings, meetings with both students and staff, as well as attending departmental meetings. I also spend a good amount of time on the floors visiting with students and walking through the building to make sure everything is up to par.
What kinds of interactions do you have with other professional staff?
We are a large department and it can be hard at times to connect with everyone. I have a great working relationship with professional staff. We work together on various committees, have different meetings, at times we have social outings together such as going to lunch/dinner, attending movies and cultural events, or simply getting together to talk about our department or lives. I interact with other colleagues from across campus as well and I enjoy being able to discuss current topics with them.
What are your interactions with your residents like?
I have mostly positive interactions with residents. I walk my building often and try to get out of my office as much as I can to interact with students. I enjoy speaking to them about a variety of topics. You really do get to know them on a personal level. Even if I am meeting them for conduct, I always talk to them about not only their life but how the choices they are making are impacting their college career. I sometimes have to have difficult and challenging conversations with some students but that is at times where you see the most growth eventually come from. I especially enjoy the contact that I do have with students of color who seek me out as a resource and mentor. I like being able to assist them not only to help navigate this giant university system but also being able to get to know them on a personal level and making connections with them.
What effects do the FIGs and Learning Communities have in your building?
My entire building is a women's empowerment community and in that community there are six FIG's. Providing women with a framework of what it means to be a strong woman and how one goes accomplishing that is very important. For different women at different development stages that encompasses a variety of things but through the assessment of our residents, some of the common themes we have as programming ideas are discussing body image, discussing the glass ceiling effect, informing them about eating disorders, and awareness of healthy exercising methods. They are not all tangible items we work with but important to the development of young women.
The effects of our programs are the opportunities for our students with common interests to come together. It allows them to meet, build connections, create study groups, and make the large campus seem a bit smaller. It is a more personalized experience.