Please describe your current professional role. In what ways do you interact with students?
100% of my work is focused on the student experience. As an Assistant Dean of Students, not only do I respond to crisis situations on campus, but I am also responsible for a lot of health and wellness programming on campus, such as:
· Active Minds
· Student Support Network
· Hope Happens Here
· Wellness Wednesday’s—stress relief!
· Fit Pass
· Stall Street Journal
· Step Up! Bystander Intervention Training
· Title IX programming & outreach
· HOPE Week
· Sexual Violence posters & rackcards
· Title IX reporting and investigation (with RJ Vallie)
· Floor Mentor· Travel with students: APPLE Conference with student athletes, MOVE service trips· Experiential Learning with RA’s· Assessment: National College Health Assessment, Campus Climate Survey, Gallup Survey
What do you enjoy most about the work you currently do?
What I like most about my work is that I get to do what I’m really passionate about. I am always working one-on-one with students and making an impact in some way. It feels good to be connected to something bigger than myself. That is why I want to stay in the field, get my doctorate and continue to help students.
Were there any influential people in your life who helped influence the career path you chose?
All of the people I can think of had a real joy and passion for life and they transferred that not only through the content they were teaching but also by the way they lived their lives. So I think of people, either college professors, staff members, high school teachers or other mentors that I have now who helped me really think about life issues and about who I wanted to be as a person, how I wanted to live my life, the values by which I live by. That’s something I think about a lot. Everybody who had that impact, and who stands out in my mind, helped me navigate how I wanted to live and interact with the world.
Where are you from? Why did you pursue a career at Saint Michael’s College?
I grew up in South Burlington, Vermont. There was this thing in my friend circle where we all wanted to get out of state for college. So I went to Stonehill College and I loved it, but they ultimately didn’t have the major I was looking for. I transferred to St. Mike’s, where my dad went to school, and finished my undergraduate program there. As I was getting my masters, I became an RD and really fell in love with the wellness side of things. Being a part of the student experience is dynamic, it’s something new every day, it’s challenging, and above all it’s rewarding.
What advice would be valuable to pass on to current students?
College is a time for exploration, and I remembering wanting to have all the answers by the time I finished. I didn’t learn until after college that one of the most important parts of life is learning to the love the questions themselves, and the best part of life isn’t the resolution, it’s living every minute! You don’t have to have life all figured out. It can be so overwhelming when everyone around you expects you to have a plan. Set goals for yourself, strive for those goals, find what you’re passionate about and try to make a difference in this world, but also realize that many life questions will arise, and the answers won’t always be easy, quick or obvious. One of my favorite quotes, which I have posted in my office, is from Rainer Maria Rilke:
“I would like to beg you
to have patience
with everything unresolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves
as if they were locked rooms
or books written in a very foreign language.
Don’t search for the answers,
which could not be given to you now
because you would not be able to live them.
And the point is to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, someday in the future,
you will gradually, without even noticing it,
live your way into the answer.”
What do you like about the St. Mike’s students you work with?
They are passionate, have a love of learning and clearly want to make a difference in the world. What I really appreciate about our students is that they’ll often come in with an idea of what they’re interested in and run with it, but they’re always open to learning new things and want to explore other paths. They’re extremely resilient. They give me such tremendous hope for the future.
What are some of your favorite activities outside of work?
I have a rescue dog named Trigger who I spend a lot of time with. I love being outside and going for hikes or long walks. I enjoy reading, photography, running, and spending time with friends and family. I also love all that Vermont has to offer, with local restaurants, food, and festivals.
Catherine Welch, assistant dean of students/director of student life outreach and assessment, has been named Advisor of the Year for Active Minds, a national nonprofit group that urges students to speak openly about mental health issues in order to remove the stigma and change campus cultures. She received her award at the Active Minds annual national conference in Washington, D.C., Nov. 3-5. Also, later in November Catherine attended the NASPA Region 1 conference in Springfield, MA, and was awarded the Mid-Level Student Affairs Professional Award for the State of Vermont. One professional from each state was honored, meeting criteria that included: Demonstrated expertise in creating a campus environment that promotes student learning and personal development; outstanding individual contribution in innovative and responsive services and programs that address varied and emerging needs of students; significant contributions to the profession and to NASPA.
(posted December 2017)