January 25, 2017

Purdue Profiles: Sashaun Wood

Sashaun Wood Sashaun Wood, director of community and student engagement in the Honors College, saw an opportunity to be part of the new Honors College and Residences at Purdue. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons) Download image

Moving from the nice, warm climate of Arizona to the sometimes frigid climate in Indiana may not seem enticing to most, but Sashaun Wood, director of community and student engagement in the Honors College, saw an opportunity to be part of something new and exciting at Purdue and couldn't resist.

She admitted, though, that her first purchase here was a nice down coat.

Wood has a bachelor's in communication and a master's in higher and postsecondary education from Arizona State University. Her office is located in the new Honors College and Residences, which she says provides a new and exciting way to be involved with students.

How and why did you become interested in community and student engagement?

I have always enjoyed working with students and found a career in higher education to be extremely rewarding when collaborating with some of the best and brightest students in the country. My interests have led me to work with Honors students for about seven years now, and I thoroughly enjoy making connections and providing experiences and opportunities to help each student reach their full potential.

My position ties together events, programs and student groups all focused on elevating our interdisciplinary community of scholars and supporting the initiatives of the college. I work with campus and community partners to provide innovative educational programs both for our honors community and to add to the offerings on campus, such as bringing in guest speakers or hosting symposiums. I also serve as an advisor to our honors student leadership groups both in planning student community events, providing leadership development and in continuing to build the foundation of our student community with those leaders. When we have active and engaged participants from all different disciplines coming together, not only does the Honors College thrive, that momentum carries forward into the Purdue community and surrounding areas.

How does the new Honors College and Residences help you interact with students?

My office is located in the center of the action! I have a view of all activities happening in Honors Hall and am located next to a student study area we affectionately call "The Nook." Students are always stopping by my office. I love having a centrally located place for not only convenience with implementing programming, but also as a visible location for students. Not only do students now have classes held down the hall from faculty and advisors, but leadership programs and community events are only a few steps away from where they live and study. Since moving into our new buildings, I have noticed the student-to-staff/faculty interaction at least triple, as we are now embedded into their space and become a part of their daily routine. And if my office location isn’t enough, I always have beanbag chairs out for lounging to entice students to feel comfortable and hang out.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I would say needing to be flexible and adapt to not only the changes that come with starting a new college, but also with event planning and student schedules. I work around what is best for our students and many times that means my calendar looks different every week. It is an exciting position to be within a growing community that, like any new venture, certainly has its ups and downs.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Building relationships with students! I am excited to come to work every day because I love my students and want only the best for each of them. We have such a wonderful team of staff and faculty here in the Honors College who are all focused on student development and success. This supportive environment makes it easy to be a positive influence at this juncture in our student’s lives and assist them in accomplishing goals, developing their talents and making an impact on the community and world around them.

Writer: Megan Huckaby, 765-496-1325, mhuckaby@purdue.edu

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