By Eric Fergason
Jennifer Hansen is a Senior Student Support Specialist at the SALT Center. We asked her a few questions to get to know her better and to learn more about her experience in this challenging and rewarding role.
What did you study in college?
I’m one of those classic students that experimented with different majors. Also, I was not a traditional student, as I worked my way through college. I was fortunate to be employed by a company that supported continuing education, and I did a variety of side jobs, from writing obituaries, to retail work, to restaurant work, to finally working within a marketing department of a large electronics firm. I started out as a pre-pharmacy major and landed in the School of Business via an indirect route. I eventually finished my degree, graduating from the UA with a B.S. in Business Administration, with a major in Marketing.
Where did you work before you joined the SALT Center as a Senior Student Support Specialist?
I worked at the SALT Center in several capacities before becoming a Senior Student Support Specialist. However, prior to working at the SALT Center, I worked in the employment industry as a recruiter and personnel specialist. I loved this work as it involved helping others and finding their strengths, and making a good match between employer and employee. For many years, I did extensive volunteer work with military spouses by taking part in support groups, being involved in leadership roles on steering committees, and working to make life better for families with loved ones who were deployed. I have also worked as a freelance writer, and I still earn a bit of money on the side by writing.
How did you learn about the role of Senior Student Support Specialist?
I worked at the SALT Center in a different area supporting students. I enjoyed the student contact that I had from this role, and had the goal of eventually becoming a Senior Student Support Specialist, so I was happy when the opportunity presented itself. It is a rewarding and challenging job.
Describe a typical Senior Student Support Specialist appointment - what do you talk about with students? Which learning strategies do you recommend most often?
No day is the same, and that is something that I thrive on. I like the fact that one student appointment could focus on time management techniques and the next could be setting up tutoring. Student needs set my agenda and we work from there. I hope that my students find me supportive and caring. I want to help students accomplish their goals.
What’s your favorite thing about being a Senior Student Support Specialist?
The best part of the job is forming relationships with students. It’s gratifying to see students make strides and gain confidence. It’s a privilege to be part of their educational experience.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of being a Senior Student Support Specialist is the pace of the day - before you know it, the day is over! Another thing I have to keep in mind is that each student has his or her own educational experience to claim or “own.” The SALT Center can provide tools and resources, but ultimately, the student accomplishes their daily academic work.
What affiliations/certifications have you obtained while working at the SALT Center?
I consider myself a life-long learner. I am currently working on my Masters degree in Education. The SALT Center supports professional development, and I enjoyed attending a “Learning & the Brain” conference earlier this year. I hope to attend more conferences and continue to develop as a professional.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I like to go on hikes at Sabino Canyon. I also enjoy day-trips (Bisbee is one of my favorite places to visit because of the history and the eclectic, artsy nature of the town). I like being with my family and friends. I’m good with home improvement tasks and I love tinkering around the house doing rehab projects. I like fixing things and figuring out how things work. I’ve discovered recently that I am good with tools and not afraid of a challenge.
Jennifer is a tremendous asset to our team. Her warmth, compassion, and encouragement make both students and staff feel at home here at the SALT Center. We are grateful for her bright smile, her cheerful disposition, and her commitment to students who learn differently.