Towson welcomes new Director of Student Activities B. Nathan

What was your undergraduate career?

I was a broadcast journalism major at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. I came in as a freshman, and I played college basketball. I wanted to be the next Robin Roberts and work for ESPN. My favorite sport is college basketball and I love women’s college basketball. So, of course I played basketball, started my young broadcast career, and my sophomore year I was like, “I did not come to school to play college sports,” and I got involved as an orientation leader.

That started opening the doors for outside of the classroom involvement. My junior year I became an RA and really got involved. I pledged a co-ed fraternity, not too many people know that. I was president of our Greek Council. I was a member of [Residence Hall Association] my freshman year, and my mentor said “B., you’d be really great in student affairs.” He said that I needed to get a masters and eventually a Ph.D. So I was an RA for two years, and hated it my senior year… I had lost the passion, but had gotten my passion from all my other involvement in college.

I went to get my masters from Boston College for a masters in higher education and administration. I got to work at my alma mater at Emerson College in alumni relations…from then I just stayed in student affairs, and I actually am in my first year of my doctoral program at Colorado State University, and my doctoral program is a Ph.D. in higher education and leadership. I am very much interested in two topics: one is looking at leadership, particularly at how our race, gender and sexuality play into how we lead. Another topic I’m interested in exploring is organization culture and change, specifically around race, gender, sexuality and how to make changes in those organizations.

What drew you to student affairs?

What drew me? My mentor said, “B., you’d be really good at Student Affairs,” and he was someone I trusted. He was someone who supported me. He was someone who did not judge me and let my light shine, and he never wanted to try and change me. This was after losing my mom to brain cancer in six months, so I believed in my mentor and that’s why I’ve always stayed. I think the other piece is, “Do I think this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life?” I don’t know. What I do know is that I enjoy working with young people. I enjoy supervising. The opportunity to work with young people and supervise professional staff fits in with my strengths and my talents. My ultimate purpose, I think, is that because my mentor saw something in me, I always want people to know that I see something in them. That’s why I do student affairs.

Where did you work before Towson?

I had a brief stint at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. I was the Director of the ALANA Center, and ALANA stands for African American, Latino/a, Asian, Native and Asian American students, so I supported all students of color. Before Vassar, I was at Colorado State University, where I was in campus activities. I was there for eight years. I started off in campus activities, then I moved to programming. I was an assistant director and ran our programming board. I fell in love, my boss wasn’t going anywhere, so my fiancee at the time she was in Pennsylvania so we were not doing long distance, so that’s what got us. We then moved to New York, not a great experience, and then we moved here and we absolutely love it.

Why did you choose Towson?

So Towson is a big school with a small feeling, and I really love that. I am drawn to the size. I really like the large numbers. That used to intimidate me, but it doesn’t really. I like the small knit of the small classrooms. People know people here. They talk to each other. There’s a mutual level of respect. I absolutely loved it when I interviewed. I love the area. I love the culture here. Truth be told, I always wanted to live in Maryland, because of the water, because of crab, because of the amount of cultural diversity, and Towson I believe represents that. This opportunity for me serving as Director of Student Activities is a huge growth opportunity for me on my way. I want to become a vice president one day, that’s my ultimate goal.

What do you think will be the most challenging part of working here?

Easily, learning the culture. Let me expand. Learning the culture isn’t the most challenging, so let me take that back. Succeeding in the culture and navigating how to make it better. I can always learn, that’s not the hard part. The hard part is succeeding and knowing how I can continuously improve it. Going back to what I want to study in my Ph.D program, I’m very interested in leadership, in organizational change, organizational culture, so how can we always continue to improve? How can we keep our minds open? How can we think creatively? That’s going to be the challenge for me.

What are you most excited about?

I think it goes back to why I do what I do. I’m excited to supervise professional staff, and I’m most excited to work with students. My job as the director is to make sure all the students have a place where they feel like they can be involved, and that is student activities. My other job is to ensure that they staff that I supervise, they continue to grow, they’re challenged, and how can I always get them to the next step. I should always be preparing them to get to the next step.

Compiled by Sarah Rowan

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