Faces of UWest: April Afoa

AprilAfoa 3

Name: April Afoa

UWest community member since: 2012

Role: Director of Student Development and Academic Advisor

Hobbies: Cooking, gardening, crafting, home improvement shows and relaxing at the beach.

Describe yourself in 3 words: Personable. Inviting. Superstar!

What led you to becoming Director of Student Development and Academic Advisor?: Accidentally. I was looking for a counseling position in higher education back in 2012, and found it here. I coordinated on a part time basis the Wellness Center and was on contract semester by semester until a new Academic Advising full time position opened up Fall 2014. I took that position and worked to find a wellness counseling replacement. We found the fabulous Jaydee Tumambing Hughes spring 2015. Because my role within the Student Affairs division is a collaborative one and academic advisement is just one aspect of how I support students on campus, I received a title change of Director of Student Development. And actually it might change yet again to Director of Student Development and Wellness since I administratively oversee the wellness center personnel and operation.

I’ve worked in higher education student affairs my entire adult life in the areas of residential life, academic advisement, personal counseling and leadership development. I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to all of these support services for students here at UWest.

How is UWest different than other campuses you’ve worked at?: UWest is the 8th university I’ve worked at in my career and very unique from each of them. I see UWest as a place for the underdogs to have a piece of the American Dream. They get a credible, quality education, but we are not cut-throat like so many other places. We want to see everyone achieve their degree, and we will help everyone to do this if they want this for themselves and will put in the effort to do the work. We are small enough that we know when students are slipping and we won’t let them fall through the cracks without giving our all to give them a lift to achieve their goals. UWest is one the few places where the mission and values are more than a written statement on the website and university catalog. We live it here and we visit the mission and values often during meeting discussions when applying and formulating policies and procedures.

How do you contribute to a wonderful UWest experience?: You mean other than my sparkling smile and personality?! 🙂 I’ve recently coordinated a staff birthday luncheon and all of us with birthdays had a poster on a wall for colleagues to write what they appreciate about each of us. Here’s what they say about me: always welcoming, funny, warmth, supportive, heartfelt, cares so much, kind sweet disposition, very thoughtful, has great ideas, super organized, and lives with integrity.

What is your favorite UWest memory?: It must be the family dinner in August 2014 at the end of our first Summer Bridge2U program. It was the final event of the week-long immersion of the 6 week program. The students worked really hard in the ILR101 College Success class and the program was successful in helping them get ready for college with academic, social and life management skills. They presented their projects to their families as we welcomed their families to UWest. We helped the students feel more confident, to know college is accessible to them, we reduced some of their fear and apprehension, and we helped them form a good sense of community together and with us as faculty and staff.  It was a very successful program and I am proud of each of the students and us as an institution.

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