Working at the Student Center Is More Than a Paycheck
An Interview with Leeah Dollar, Class of 2017 and a former Student Center employee
You are a recipient of a $10,000 French-American Chamber of Commerce Foundation Serge Bellanger Scholarship. What does receiving this scholarship mean to you? Do you believe your experiences with the Student Center contributed to your selection? If so, how?
For me, receiving this scholarship was a sign that I’m moving in the right direction and I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I can see now that following my passion for the French language is going to take me to places I can’t even imagine and I’m very excited for this new journey. I believe my experience working at the student center, specifically as the Lead Administrative Assistant, helped my selection because it allowed me to be in a position of management at a young age. I was not only able to explain my achievements but also the challenges I had to overcome while holding this leadership role. If I didn’t have this position, I wouldn’t know how to create training that incorporates cultural awareness or delegate tasks and projects to my co-workers.
These responsibilities gave me real world experience that will be quintessential throughout my master’s degree and in my future career.
– Leeah Dollar
Most students at Georgia State University must work while they are taking classes. Is there an advantage to working in the Student Center vs. working off-campus? Versus another department on campus?
There are numerous advantages that come with working at the Student Center. There is flexibility within the work week so you can put your studies first when creating your schedule. There are numerous training opportunities to take advantage of to help you gain skills in leadership and communication. Working off campus can be mentally and physically taxing when it comes to driving to different locations but working at the student center allowed me to go to work as soon class was over. I got to know the university better and helped numerous students, staff, faculty, and even parents. I believe the Student Center provides a unique family environment that might be hard to find anywhere else on campus.
Why did you choose to attend Georgia State University?
Growing up in the small city of Ellenwood, I was always dreaming of new places and sights that I wanted to explore. After taking a high school tour of Georgia State, I immediately fell in love with how big the campus was and the numerous opportunities the school offered to its students. Although the idea of being in a new environment was intimidating, the positive energy and smiling faces from the students during the tour reassured me that I would find happiness and success at Georgia State.
When did you matriculate at Georgia State? What was your major when you were a Freshman? Was it the same major when you graduated?
I came to Georgia State University in the fall of 2013 and came in as a biology major. That soon changed to French, then Journalism, and finally Psychology which is what my degree is in.
How did you become involved with the Student Center?
As a commuter student, I found it very challenging to get involved on campus since I was more concerned with beating traffic than staying for any events or meeting new people. However, I knew working on campus would allow me to really get to know Georgia State and the panther community as a whole. I applied to be an administrative assistant through panther career net in 2014 and worked there until graduating in 2016.
What positions did you hold while working at the Student Center?
While working at the student center I have been an Administrative Assistant, Lead Administrative Assistant and also an HR Assistant.
Were there particular skills or knowledge that you gained as a result of these roles?
I’ve gained so many transferable skills from working within each role. I not only learned the importance of organization and time management but also how to provide exceptional customer service and manage conflict throughout my position as an Administrative Assistant. As an HR Assistant, I’ve learned how to interview candidates for jobs, schedule new hire orientations, and recruit students at university job fairs. However, my favorite skill, team management, was obtained while I was a Lead Administrative Assistant. I learned how to collaborate with my coworkers and pinpoint areas of growth and weaknesses in our department.
Did your experience with the Student Center assist you in your academic endeavors while at Georgia State?
Seeing the constant progression within the Student Center made me proud of my university and motivated me to do well academically. I found that my professors were just as eager to support me in all my academic and personal interests just like the supervisors at the Student Center. The encouragement to take chances at work allowed me to take risks academically and I was able to further my research in Public Health, Psychology, and Corporate Social Responsibility throughout my undergraduate career.
What was your most memorable experience while working for the Student Center?
Donating all of our old uniforms to a nonprofit was the most memorable experience I had while working at the Student Center. Although we were excited about receiving new uniforms, the looming question of what to do with hundreds of old uniforms was burning in everyone’s minds. I’ve always wanted to do something positive for the environment and this posed the perfect opportunity for our office to step out of our administrative duties and do something new. Although we faced challenges finding the perfect organization, we were able to donate all of our uniforms to USAgain and save 1,044,000 gallons of water! It was really cool for us to combine all of our talents with other departments and create flyers to support our efforts, but also bond as a team. It showed me just how important teamwork is because if we didn’t work together and support each other throughout the process, we probably wouldn’t have been able to delve out of our comfort zone and do something so impactful.
What was your most memorable experience at Georgia State?
Studying abroad was my most memorable experience because it showed me that when you follow your dreams, you can be successful. Before 2015, I never rode a plane, never rode a bus, never even left the south. But after studying French in high school, I knew that I wanted to visit France and really learn to speak the language. GSU provided me this opportunity through a six-month exchange program with the Université de Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. I traveled to Spain, Brussels, the United Kingdom and numerous cities in France. When I came home, it was the only thing I wanted to talk about and GSU continued to support me in spreading the word about the benefits of traveling at study abroad fairs and foundation meetings for the College of Arts and Sciences. I was able to become an exchange buddy for French students studying at GSU and help my coworkers travel the world for exchange programs and internships. This experience empowered me and I remain as fearless as I am today because of this experience.
What advice would you give to a student who has just been hired by the Student Center?
Don’t be afraid to take on new challenges and think of creative ways to make the Student Center better. Your opinions and ideas matter and you are appreciated by everyone you work with so make this experience worth your while. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and be positive. Take pride in all the work that you do and get involved in all of the training and activities that are provided to you. All your hard work, whether it be at work or in the classroom, will pay off so don’t give up!