By Kayllan Olicio
What is your educational background and career history?
I went to Roger Williams University for my undergrad. I studied secondary education and English. During my student teaching, I was like “Wow I really don’t like working with high school students.” When I graduated from there I actually worked in admissions for three years at American International College in Springfield. At that point, I realized I really liked working in the college setting and I needed to get my master’s degree to do anything else in the field. ... After the three years working at AIC, I ended up going to Springfield College to get my master’s in student personnel administration in higher education. Then I went down to Florida for a year to work. Despite the beautiful beaches, I realized I missed my family a lot, so I ended up coming back up here quickly, and I’ve been here [at FSU] for a year and a half now.
What is your favorite part of being an Area Director?
I’ve never really pictured myself working in Residence Life. I’ve always enjoyed working with younger students. I like freshmen. They are eager to learn – to figure things out. I’ve always loved working with that population of students and I’ve never really thought about Residence Life connecting to that. I think since I’ve kind of gone into this field and into this world a little bit more, it’s interesting to see how students balance their lives. All students are here for the educational aspects of it, but of course, there are so many other pieces that come into play with that in terms that they are trying to figure out who their friends are, who they want their friends to be, who they want to be and what they want to do with their lives. There is just so much happening. You get to see so much of it happening in the residence halls. You get to see so many sides to people, which is really cool to watch. ... To watch people have that “Ah ha!” moment it’s really enlightening.
What has been your greatest professional accomplishment and what has been the greatest
I consider getting my master’s degree my biggest accomplishment. I’m the first in my family to get a master’s degree. I’ve always had a super supportive family that has always had my back through everything, but it was the concept of putting that much of my time and effort into school. I gave up a full-time job with benefits to go to grad school full time and my family asked, “Are you sure?” and I said, “Nope, but let’s do this.” I was honestly very proud of myself. I had to re-adjust everything about myself at that point in my life. It was a challenge to overcome. ... The biggest challenge I face professionally is I think there is always still that big question mark that hangs over all our heads of what do I want? What do I want to do ultimately? There’s not really an ultimately. I’m not that old, so I still have a lot of years to
work professionally but where is it that I want to end? ... I’m still trying to figure out where my fit is in terms of where I ultimately want to work. That has been a challenge. I’ve worked in a few different areas of higher education now, because I also dabbled in academic advising when I was in grad school. I was an RA in my undergrad. I did orientation. I kind of touch upon everything, so I’m trying to figure out what’s the right fit.
What has been a memorable moment in your career?
Every graduation day. I’ve seen graduation days at three or four different schools now, and every single time ... I have the privilege of watching them go through so much throughout their time as undergraduate students and then watching them walk across the stage with such a smile of relief and pride on their faces, and see their families and friends with the same look. It’s not an accomplishment of mine, but I feel accomplished for them. So, every graduation, I get the butterfly feeling, the butterfly feeling of a relationship but it’s at a job. ... It sounds sappy, but there’s just something magical about graduation day. I love it.
What advice would you give to FSU students?
I think about when I was an undergrad, “What do I wish I had known, but do I really wish I had [known] that?” It’s kind of part of the experience – to figure things out on your own. ... It’s OK not to know. Just not knowing in general, what you want to do. Who you want to be. Who you want to be with. It’s scary! It’s terrifying – especially when you creep closer to graduation day and you ask, “Wow! Am I on the right path right now?” But that’s OK – there’s still a journey and an experience to be found. That’s one thing I wish I had known and would like to share with other people. It’s not giving away too much. There are just so many opportunities out there. Don’t be freaked out if you don’t know which one you want to take.