Brittany Passano, a Rowan Global student from Elizabeth, NJ (Union County), is earning her master’s degree in Higher Education: Administrative track. Here is her inspiring story.
Brittany learned about Rowan’s graduate program at her prior institution, Montclair University. The program was appealing to her because of the size of Rowan’s residential life department and the benefits that came with the hands-on experience Rowan offers their grads.
Brittany describes it as “a two-year program that develops graduate students working in academic and student affairs. We are tasked to foster diversity and inclusion within the residence halls by supporting students and their identity. Our goal is to learn how to make universities a better place in the future.”
Currently, Brittany is the Resident Director of Mimosa Hall, a first-year student residence hall on campus. Her job is to oversee the administrative/logistical process of the residence hall and to manage a staff of resident assistants.
“The best way to describe my job is that I assist the RA’s who assist the residents. I make sure my staff has all the right skills and resources to help our students,” she says.
When asked about the most rewarding part of her job, Brittany replies, “Seeing the transformation in each RA from the beginning of the semester to the end. I love watching my staff grow and help them to improve from their mistakes. It’s so nice to see how each RA makes the job unique to them.”
Brittany has had influential mentors throughout her Rowan experience.
“Catie Baxter, who was my direct supervisor and area coordinator, really helped me when I first got here. I felt so tiny but she made me come out of my shell and helped me realize I could do it.”
She also talks about the impact her Student Development professor had on her. “Dr. Wright’Mair helped me to get out of my comfort zone and think outside of the box. I learned how to really think critically in that class. Dr. Wright’Mair challenged me to the professional I want to be. “
Brittany shared how it feels to be a Latina woman achieving her master’s degree. “It feels incredible. I’m proud to be Latina. I wake up every morning, look at my skin and hair, and am thankful that I have it; I think that goes back to my family and how I was raised.
“Being a part of a minority community does come with personal struggles, but with that comes learning to work with integrity and caring about others. Not many Latina women have a master’s degree, but I am looking forward to being a part of the small percentage that will work to make sure there are more women like us in the future,” she explains.
Brittany is writing her thesis on the Latina student experience with a sense of belonging.
After graduation, Brittany wants to continue her career in residential life in a professional position. “I’m currently interviewing for positions and can’t wait to take everything I’ve learned into action and practice.”
When asked to give advice to students who want to enter the field of higher education, Brittany says, “Remember your first leadership position and how amazing it was — that experience brought you to this point. Remember that sometimes we have to unlearn to learn, and live in every moment.”
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