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Student Center Helps Grad Intern Find Future

by Jacqueline Stoughton

Ever since the Student Center opened in 1964, it has been providing opportunities to graduate students to gain real life experience working in student activities through an internship, an opportunity that grad student Erica Gardner has taken full advantage of.

After graduating with a psychology degree from UConn in 2012, Gardner realized that working in higher education focused in student activities could become a legitimate career for her.

“I was a resident assistant and I kind of said ‘I can do this for the rest of my life,’” said Gardner. “When I came to CCSU for my interview I immediately was like ‘This is where I want to be.’”

The Student Development in Higher Education program for graduate students is a part of the councilor educator program on campus aimed for those who want to work with college aged students further in life. The program deals with counseling, where students learn specifically how to deal and work with college students in various scenarios.

“Working in the Student Center, no day is the same,” said Gardner. “I like that, and that everything is up in the air so it keeps it interesting in our office.”

Currently, Gardner works in the Student Activities office as apart of her internship with the Student Center. She advises over 20 clubs on campus including the programming board, CAN and Greek life as well as coordinating Devils Den.

“[The program] also gives us an opportunity to work in the operations side,” said Gardner. “It gives you the chance to work with the students outside of activities office and making sure everything runs according to plan.”

After a rough transition into college, Gardner says she wasn’t particularly involved with what the UConn campus had to offer until after becoming an RA in her junior year. This led to even more involvement with a Greek letter organization where Gardner was active in campus event planning. This is what caused Gardner to come to the realization that she can make a career out of working with students outside the classroom by assisting with planning on-campus events.

The most rewarding part of Gardner’s internship with the Student Center and student activities, she says, is helping students get to the point where they can get what they want and make a difference.

“You don’t have to be the student leader who’s involved in every single thing. This internship helped me build the skills I didn’t have,” said Gardner. “I don’t know where I’ll end up but wherever life takes me I’m up for the challenge.”