By MARTY LEVINE
Sarah Martin — Pitt–Bradford’s new director of residence life and housing and associate dean of student affairs — discovered she loved her job before she had it. Back in her undergraduate days, one of her best experiences was being an RA on another small campus, Shenandoah University in Winchester, Va.
“I realized I enjoyed those student leadership positions,” Martin says. “I like the idea of trying to help create a community and home life environment on campus.”
But she hadn’t realized it could be a career until a mentor on campus made her aware of the possibilities. She had been a kinesiology and exercise science major as an undergrad, but Martin, a native of Allegheny Township, near Freeport, returned home for her master’s degree in student affairs and higher education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. There, she got her first assistant resident director post, and since moved on to gain increasingly responsible jobs in student life at Marshall, Marymount and, most recently, Mary Baldwin universities.
So far, among Pitt–Bradford’s 850 resident students she has been able to help create a new first-year quad in two adjacent buildings to allow for new students to easily take part in programming together. She’s found that her current students share the same concerns as students everywhere — making adjustments to living away from home and learning to live with someone new — while also having “a good number” of emotional support and service animals on campus, including dogs, cats, birds and a chinchilla.
The whole campus feels new, she says, with a new president just inaugurated and a new dean of student affairs above her. And yet the place is also familiar, since she visited less than a decade earlier when her brother attended, played on the campus baseball team, and graduated from here. She knew it was exactly the kind of campus that this self-described “rural, woodsy, out-in-the-country person” enjoyed working within.
“It made coming here feel more like home,” she says.
She’s happy to have the new challenge of the associate dean post, Martin says, but “even though I have only been here for four months, I feel like this was a welcoming environment. It has very quickly started to feel that I’ve been here a long time.”
Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at email@example.com or 412-758-4859.
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