Andrea has been a professional for 20 years and has proudly served nine of those years with NIRSA. She began her campus recreation career with the University of Central Florida (UCF) Recreation and Wellness Center (RWC) as the Facilities and Aquatics Coordinator. During her time at the RWC she has had the opportunity to serve in different roles including Outdoor Adventure Coordinator, Sport Clubs Coordinator, Inclusive Recreation Coordinator, and most recently was promoted to the Assistant Director of Sport Clubs, Inclusive Recreation, and Risk Management. While working with sport clubs, Andrea has seen an increase in both participation and the number of clubs including the addition of the gaming and adaptive clubs, which includes the first wheelchair tennis team in Florida. She has also served as a leader within the RWC on both the Risk Management Committee and currently chairs the Diversity Committee. Andrea is a member of the NIRSA 2021 Program Committee, the Championship Series Assessment Work Team, is the Chairperson for the South Eastern Conference for the National Collegiate Wrestling Association, and was previously a member of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Commission and the ERSL Committee for four years to include three years as a co-chair.
Andrea and her wife Laura are proud to have a loud household complete with three boys and three fur babies: Jaylin, Jordan, RJ, Tony, Nippy, and Jaxon. She holds two associates degrees, a bachelor’s degree in business, and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary studies with focuses in project management and social justice. Recently, Andrea began the adventure that is her doctoral degree in sociology and, when she is not reading, spends her free time watching sports and singing karaoke.
What do you see as opportunities in collegiate recreation and our Association? How would you collaborate with the Member Network team to address these issues?
A couple of significant opportunities in collegiate recreation and our Association that I have seen include recreational and competitive inclusive programming and increasing opportunities to articulate the impact of campus recreation on student participants and employees to our colleagues and administration in higher education. At times we spend countless hours on our campuses researching and implementing diverse programming based on many factors. However, an aspect of diversity that I feel is often overlooked is ability.
I am motivated and ready to work with the Member Network to build relationships that can assist our member institutions in creating or enhancing offerings, collaborate with community partners, and connect with other member institutions to ensure that the obstacles for building recreational and competitive opportunities for people with physical disabilities are minimal. For example, we have made great strides in partnering with the Special Olympics with our Unified divisions but some of us just may not know where or how to begin. Working with the Member Network team to address this need can open the door to fulfilling another issue I mentioned previously and that is the lack of awareness from our higher education colleagues on the research surrounding our impact on student wellbeing. With conversations happening on our campuses about student stressors and wellness, we should feel empowered to be at the forefront of these conversations and not be woven in at the end. My goal is to collaborate with the Member Network team to equip our members with the knowledge and resources designed to take their research and have it be seen through webinars and viewed as best practices in order to highlight the current work being done by our own NIRSA members. It is undeniable that we have colleagues in the trenches across campus working with different departments, and I feel those efforts should be highlighted through various modes of communication not just at conferences.
In describing your contributions to NIRSA, identify how your involvement and experiences meet the position criteria and qualify you to serve NIRSA in this role.
Since my first NIRSA conference in February 2011, I have had a vested interest in serving not just my institution but NIRSA as well. I recognized that I had an affinity for developing relationships and wanted to take that strength and utilize it to help others within and outside of our association to learn about the importance of campus recreation in real time as I was learning. Beginning with my selection to the Emerging Recreational Sports Leaders (ERSL) Conference Committee as a member and the following year selected to serve as co-chair, I was highly interested in having a greater impact which led to my interest in my institution hosting the conference and later applying for the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Commission.
Throughout my time on that commission, I was afforded the opportunity to be involved with tangible efforts to educate and develop our association members on cultural competencies culminating in the creation of a comprehensive equity, diversity, and inclusion manual. While my tenures for the previous roles have ended, I have since been selected to represent NIRSA as a member of the NIRSA Championship Series Assessment Team and the 2021 Program Committee. It is my belief that these opportunities were granted to me based on my ability to lead, communicate, and engage others in a unique and meaningful way that translates effectively to the criteria which are included in the Region II Representative role.
Please share your ideas for engaging volunteers and identifying leaders in your region.
Engaging volunteers can be difficult to approach from a macro level. As someone who chooses to develop personal and meaningful relationships daily, it is critical for me to begin recruiting and retaining volunteers through storytelling. Creating dialogue about the opportunities and resources our NIRSA network can provide while showcasing the benefits of connecting to one another from the local, state, national, and international levels, is vital to the growth of our association. It was through speaking and building bonds with NIRSA colleagues that I was exposed to the importance of volunteering and was completely dialed in to the efforts to make our association not only the leaders in collegiate recreation, but those who wanted to be at the forefront of higher education and wellbeing. As a single individual, this is virtually impossible, but as a Member Network that engages through virtual and social media practices, we can reach the masses. It is through these avenues that one can also begin to identify leaders to help build and enhance the strength of our members.
We must also make an effort to recognize and reach out to those members who are submitting for committees and presentations but not being selected as they are a critical component to NIRSA as well and can be identified and mentored. While we want to ensure that we are spending time identifying leaders and engaging volunteers, we cannot forget recognition. Whether that be through formal recognition, a volunteer gift, or a simple thank you, individuals are more likely to repeatedly volunteer when they feel appreciated.