What is student engagement and why is student voice important in decision making? This week, we sat down with Student Engagement Advisor Jenna Dahl to learn more about her role.
Ashton Paulitsch (AP): Your role is new to the Masters Programs Office as of June 2016. Why was a Student Engagement Advisor role needed?
Jenna Dahl (JD): Previously, there wasn’t a formal platform for student voice. Having students represented at the decision making table is very important as the decisions academic institutions make arguably impact them the most. The purpose of my role is to connect student groups and their leaders to the Masters Programs Office, ensuring a constant flow of communication. More specifically, I manage student case competitions, orientation programming, student initiatives and assurance of learning.
AP: How long have you worked for the Masters Programs Office?
JD: I’ve worked here for over two years. I first came to the Masters Programs Office as an Executive Assistant to the Associate Dean. I then moved into a Program Coordinator role for our EMBA, Fort McMurray MBA and MFM programs. In June 2016, I took on the newly created Student Engagement Advisor role.
AP: What was your background prior to joining the Masters Programs Office team?
JD: I completed by Bachelor of Commerce degree here at the University of Alberta and was heavily involved in student groups during this time. Upon graduation, I worked in office management at an engineering firm before joining the Masters Programs Office.
AP: What drew you to working in an academic environment?
JD: My mom workers for a University in the United States and I knew that academic institutions had lots of opportunities that were aligned with my interests.
AP: What’s the best part of your job?
JD: Helping students!
AP: What do you believe is the greatest area of opportunity for MBA programs?
JD: A focus on extracurricular activities is an area of opportunity for all academic institutions. Giving students a safe place to build skills such as public speaking through extracurriculars like case competitions, student government and networking events will enhance their personal development. I also believe taking advantage of student voice in the educational system is an area of immense opportunity. In the future, I see educational institutions establishing more platforms to get students involved in the decision making process.
AP: What advice would you give to prospective MBA students?
JD: You won’t get anything out of being a bystander. You will get the most out of your interactions with other people through extracurricular activities. Take advantage of the opportunities given to you by other students that will help you grow.
AP: I know you’re currently pursuing a Master of Education degree in Educational Policy. Why did you choose this path?
JD: In my role, I help students navigate the educational system and get the most out of it. My master’s degree provides me with the opportunity to explore the student journey from an education-focused mindset and learn how we can get the most out of our students too.
AP: Last question…what do you eat for breakfast?
Interview conducted by Ashton Paulitsch