student Spotlight

June Student Spotlight with Chelsea Alterman, MSEd '17

June 17 Student Spotlight

Higher Education Administration students at the Marxe School are often known to be particularly passionate about higher education and the pathways it can provide to people from all walks of life. Chelsea Alterman tells us about her accomplishments and aspirations in this field, as well as her experience within CUNY and the Marxe School.

On LinkedIn you end your personal summary with: “My aspiration is to advance student development through intentional and educational student support.” Can you expand on that and tell us where this aspiration was born, what you’re doing in the MSEd program to see it come to fruition, and where you’d like to see it go in the future?
My first experience working within higher education was as an undergraduate student at Hunter College. For three years, I worked in the Welcome Center as a Student Ambassador, where I offered tours of the school to prospective students and their friends and family members. Prior to this experience, I wasn't actually enjoying my college experience, as I felt insignificant and lonely as one student among over 15,000 total. However, as I started to give tours and explore the school, I realized the vast resources that college was able to offer and become more appreciative of my experience. In addition, it was empowering and inspiring to hear the stories of the prospective students and their motivations and worries about enrolling in college. I was able to offer them guidance and calm their nerves, and my role as Student Ambassador became my favorite aspect about being in college. I recognized how important it was to have support systems throughout the college process, from enrollment to graduation, and I wanted to continue being that support system after I graduated with my Bachelors.

One colleague at Hunter mentioned that he was enrolled in a Master’s program at Baruch College for Higher Education Administration. At the time, I wasn't aware that you could get a Master’s degree in Higher Education, so after asking him questions and obsessively gathering every detail about the program from its website, I decided to enroll at Baruch. My experience in the MSEd program has been overwhelmingly positive and comprehensive. I feel entirely more confident about my ability to support college students, as I now have a foundation of knowledge including the history of higher education, its financing and administrative mechanisms, and best strategies for providing intentional student support. I have become more confident through understanding this context. As I have worked full-time throughout my duration of the program, it's been enriching to observe and implement this information in my daily professional life.

Currently, I am the President of the Higher Education Administration (HEA) Club at Baruch and have been in this position for about a year and a half. Through careful planning, collaboration with other club members, and extensive outreach efforts, the club has successfully hosted a variety of social and professional events for current MSPIA students and alumni. We've held a breakfast with Baruch President Mitchell B. Wallerstein, two career panels – one featuring new professionals and another providing perspective from seasoned administrators like Monroe College President Stephen Jerome – two student/alumni community service days through partnering with NY Cares, and multiple networking events. One of my proudest moments was the HEA club's Breakfast event with CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken during the fall 2017 semester. Often, students receive email updates and read news articles highlighting the Chancellor, but never actually get to engage with him. The breakfast event provided an opportunity for graduate students, who were most likely prospective and current higher education administrators, to interact with the Chancellor in person and gain advice from his professional history and current leadership position. It has been a rewarding experience to offer these moments of genuine connection and professional development to other students and alumni of my program.

Currently, I work as an Administrative Coordinator in the ASAP program at City Tech. The ASAP program assists students in earning associate degrees within three years by providing a range of financial, academic, and personal supports. In my role, I support all aspects of the program, including hosting student engagement events, monitoring the program budget, managing student workers, organizing the program's schedule, and maintaining a student-friendly atmosphere. After I obtain my Master’s degree and in the near future, I would love to adopt a more leadership or advisory position within a student support program like ASAP, as I am passionate about providing resources and mentorship to college students.

What is it about higher education that inspires you? How does the Marxe School inspire you?
Higher education has the ability to transform life trajectories, as it provides direct exposure to a diverse array of subjects and perspectives that spark interest and motivate action. Colleges and universities offer a forum for open individual and academic expression. This environment fosters an unparalleled sense of self-actualization. With the right access to resources and support, students have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.

The Marxe School has fulfilled me. It has helped me discover and establish my purpose. Everyone that I've encountered in the HEA program and at the Marxe School has been overwhelmingly supportive and dedicated.I have formed relationships with faculty, administrators, and my fellow classmates that I know will persevere throughout my professional and personal life.

What’s one of your top experiences in education thus far?
After one of my campus tours at Hunter, I was pulled aside by one of the tour participants. She detailed how she was 19 years old, a mom of two children, and worked two jobs to support her family. She was apprehensive – she wasn't sure if she could handle the additional responsibility of attending college but she expressed her aspirations of studying English and wanting to eventually become a writer. I listened attentively and offered encouragement, but unsure if my input had made any difference. A year later, the same person found and stopped me in the middle of the hallway, and told me that my words of support had motivated her to apply and attend Hunter. This moment made a huge impact on my life. I want to recreate and assist in these moments of self-discovery and action for more students in the future.