My journey into student affairs is like a tapestry that has been intricately woven to yield a beautiful hanging. It has twists and turns that have led me to IU South Bend as the Vice Chancellor for Student Engagement and Success, where my goal is to save the world, one student at a time.
My parents had seven children including one infant death, one child with a mental disability, one child with a heart condition, followed by the unexpected delivery of twins, and two single births. My mother began attending college when my youngest sister started kindergarten. My mother would clean the house, do the laundry, and prepare dinner while we were at school. After school, she helped us with our homework and then left after dinner to attend her evening classes. She would return from class and study until the wee hours of the morning.
As a first-generation, non-traditional student, my mom paved the way for my siblings and me, earning an undergraduate and a master’s degree in education. My father had served in the U.S. Army and then worked at a local furniture store. Even though he never received his high school degree, he was one of the smartest men that I have known. What I loved the most was watching how my dad supported my mother’s dream. When he arrived home from work, he washed the dishes, supervised our nightly baths and put us to bed. He encouraged us to study, stay connected to family and friends, and always be kind to others.
I went to Southern Illinois University where I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. I continued my education at Western Michigan University getting a Master of Science degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and a Ph.D. in Applied Behavioral Analysis. It was there I found the philosophy and career path of changing the world one student at a time.
After the completion of my Doctorate program, I served as the Deputy to the Governor’s Special Assistant for Minority Affairs in North Carolina where I worked on projects that impacted communities statewide. After five years serving in government, I started consulting with non-profit organizations focusing on women’s rights, resources for women and children, and developing life skills for the homeless. It was through these grassroots projects that my “saving the world” mantra had a great impact on individuals and the community.
My career in higher education has spanned over 25 years. I had the great pleasure to work at Wake Technical Community College, Saint Augustine’s University, Baker College, the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and the University of Botswana. I have realized that the greatest impact I’ve made as a professional was during those moments when students were on the brink of giving up. Pausing to help students find their path while navigating the campus culture, has become a common thread.
As I helped traditional students, international students, graduate students, and non-traditional students who chose to seek a higher education, I felt compelled to aid them in weaving their tapestries as they threaded towards their finished masterpieces.
As I begin my new tapestry at IU South Bend, I look forward to streamlining processes, partnering with academic affairs, providing students with clear roadmaps to valuable campus resources, and pairing academic advising and success coaching for all students. I remain eager to save the world, one Titan at a time.
Written by Monica Porter, Vice Chancellor for Student Engagement and Success