Gatepost Interview: Sara Gallegos, Director of Student Involvement and Leadership Development
By Lauren Hapcook
What is your professional and educational background?
I have a bachelor of arts in psychology from New Mexico State University. I have a master’s of higher education in student affairs from the University of South Carolina, and I have a doctorate of higher education in administration from Northeastern University.’’
What brought you to FSU?
I am actually starting my third week here, so not that long. What drew me to this position is that I had 15 years of professional experience. I always worked in student activities, student life, and student government. I have been in the Boston area for about five years now, working with student life, and this position became open. It just drew me to want to be a director over the student involvement area and get back to working at a state university. I worked at California State University for 10 years and I loved working there. I love the students at state universities – just the passion and appreciation that you all bring, just being here, it is so heartwarming. So, I wanted to get back and work here.
What is your favorite thing about Framingham State?
So far, everybody is super nice – the faculty, staff, and students I have run into. It’s a pretty warm community.
It seems like you have lived in a lot of places. Which one was your favorite?
That’s hard. I mean, living in San Diego for 10 years was amazing! It is always sunny and 70 and it is where people go to vacation. I also love the Boston area, too, because it is probably the biggest city in terms of culture, things to do, and transportation. It is more of a real urban city than a lot of other places I have lived. I have access to way more things here than I did anywhere else, such as all sports teams, for sure. Being in San Diego, no huge concert acts would come to us, because L.A. was right there. Since we are far enough away here, we get big name acts of different musicians. We get all of the different touring Broadway theatre shows. So, there is so much to do. Additionally, being so close to everything and living in the New England area, when you drive an hour to different states, you get to experience different things. Sporting events are probably one of my favorite things and the easiest to do because I have a 9-year-old daughter.
What is your biggest challenge?
Maybe professionally moving. I was in California for 10 years, and then my husband, who is a research scientist, found a position in the Boston area. I thought it was also a good move for me because of all the higher education here. It was a little bit difficult getting into the higher education “bubble” here and being an outsider. I have been in the area for about five years and now, I am finally back in a position in an institution that feel like I am supposed to be in.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishment is the students I have had over the years. For one, just seeing them grow up through their undergrad years and staying in touch with them afterwards. In particular, I have three individual students that I’ve worked with. Each of them was involved – I got them involved for their entire [undergraduate experience]. ... They all got master’s degrees in higher education, so they all work in student affairs. I went to their graduations – one was at the University of South Carolina, one was at Marquette in Milwaukee, and one was at Northeastern.
What was your favorite undergraduate experience?
Between my junior and senior year is when I kind of learned and fell into my field – when I was an orientation leader. So, I really loved that summer. That was the impetus that kick-started me into this journey, onto this path. That is where it all began. I went to ... a land-grant institution. We had college of agriculture there. We actually had a farm and worked on the farm on campus. It was research and taking classes through that as an elective – we would get to do that, so we would get to learn and do stuff with the animals.
What is one thing you would do if you could do college over again?
I guess, probably, if I had something to do over again, study abroad. That is something I always wanted to do. I would go somewhere in Europe, somewhere like Spain or Italy. I would go there because I have been to Italy and loved it. It was gorgeous. Just somewhere totally different. They’re Romance languages, so they are similar to ours. So, a little bit easier to pick up.
What are you looking forward to doing or changing here at FSU?
I think my biggest priority right now is being here for the staff and providing stability for this office – just working my best to create great opportunities for students to be involved, but also making sure that processes are running smoothly, that all the moving pieces are working together.
What advice do you have for FSU students?
Make the most of your time here. You’re going to get out of your Framingham experience what you put into it. Try new things because you never know what could be something that leads you to your future. An example is trying an orientation leadership [position] and here I am. ... Just try out new things, because you will never know where it will lead.