Director of Student Life Shadia Sachedina: Transforming the Student Experience
"If you don’t have engaged, involved students, the Strategic Plan can’t ultimately succeed. My department’s role in getting students connected to the mission of the institution is critical, because it comes full-circle: happy students are successful students; successful students get good jobs and become happy alums, who give right back to the institution."
Early Change in Direction
When Shadia Sachedina – born in Pakistan and raised in Kuwait – first came to the U.S. it was to attend Wheaton College in Boston. However, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait two days later changed everything, including her financial situation. “I ended up going to my ‘safety school,’ SUNY Stony Brook,” she says. “It was the best thing that ever happened to me.”
Though her career path has changed direction more than once – including stints teaching 8th-grade English and running a catering business –she’s always been drawn back to working with students.
Wooed Back to Higher Ed
Sachedina first became involved in student affairs while earning a BA in English literature at Stony Brook. “I was an RA, I worked in the campus security program, I was involved in Student Government and Student Activities,” she recalls. After working a year as residence hall director at SUNY Cortland, she returned to Stony Brook in the same capacity. Sachedina then decided to follow one of her passions and pursued a degree in culinary education at the French Culinary Institute (now the International Culinary Center). She opened a catering business, but was “wooed back into higher ed… I really missed the student contact and the collegiality that exists in an institution.”
"I was craving the Baruch kind of student: more down-to-earth, realistic, aware of what they had to do, driven, ambitious."
Drawn to Baruch Students
It was during her subsequent position as associate director of residence life at the School of Visual Arts that Sachedina obtained her MSEd in higher education administration at nearby Baruch. Though she enjoyed working at SVA, “I was craving the Baruch kind of student: more down-to-earth, realistic, aware of what they had to do, driven, ambitious.”
She began working at Baruch in 2006 as a part-time student affairs coordinator, handling projects including Freshman Seminar, the Welcome Center, the Transfer Student website, the Freshman Handbook, and Team Baruch Leadership. She became associate director of student life in 2008; then – upon director Carl Aylman’s retirement in 2010 – interim director until summer July 2011, when she assumed the title of director.
Impacting the Next Generation of Student Affairs Professionals
After earning her EdD in 2012 from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development, Sachedina taught a few classes in higher ed at NYU. Since then she’s taught classes at Baruch in leadership and student affairs, as a SPA adjunct professor: “That has been extremely exciting and very rewarding. It’s great having the opportunity to play a role in the development of the next generation of student affairs professionals.”
“Everything I’ve accomplished has been because I have worked with a group of highly dedicated, thoughtful, and committed people. Ben Corpus, Corlisse Thomas, Ron Aaron, and Mark Spergel, to name but a few, have been instrumental in their support of changing the face of student life. Beginning with those murals on the wall when you walk in, we have changed the student experience from the minute they first come in to that final moment when they attend Commencement. Making sure that students get the optimum experience beyond what they’re getting in the classroom; that is the legacy I would want to leave.”
- “Getting a student center on campus or connected with campus somehow, so that students have a space to call their own.”
- “Continuing to provide programs that are innovative, that will pull students out of their immediate surroundings and take them somewhere else: Washington, DC , Louisiana, etc.”
- “More service learning, more leadership training; development of students who come from outside this immediate area”
"I see what I do as service, across the board: to the profession, to the institution, and to the people I’m working with."