student Spotlight

September Student Spotlight with Kristina Onishchuk, MSEd-HEA ‘16

September Student Spotlight

Community is a critical facet of working and studying at the School of Public Affairs; Kristina Onishchuk is engaged from both directions. We speak about her unique perspective as School staff member and student, including the vital effects of high school preparedness, and why she believes administrative office hours should be expanded.

What are you currently studying? What are the most important things you’ve learned so far?
I am currently going into my second year of the MSEd-Higher Education Administration program. So far, I’ve learned a great deal that is directly applicable to my specific interests in the higher education field.

I am currently taking an educational policy course that explores the world of K-12 education and the outcomes of school reforms being made to address the achievement gap in primary and secondary schooling. Though an elective, this course is pivotal for understanding the educational platform set forth prior to postsecondary school. It has helped me get a better picture as to why college remedial courses are implemented and how high school preparedness may impact college retention rates. In essence, this course has helped me think about ways to create a bridge between K-12 and college communication if I should choose to work in undergraduate admissions.

Another course that was equally essential was my U.S. higher education history course that I have taken this past spring semester. Not only did the class allow me to do research on nationwide salaries for different college administrator positions within varying institutional settings, but it also expanded my knowledge on faculty rankings. I am now able to better understand the faculty tenure system and the difficulties of receiving it in today’s age of institutional reliance on adjuncts. Hence, my appreciation for tenured faculty has only increased as a college administrator.

Most beneficial was my student development elective which showed me how to apply notable student affairs theories to actually helping students in practice. It has showed me that there is a great need to expand administrative office hours and the range of services offered for college students, especially as more non-traditional students continue to enter the realm of higher education.

What do you want to do with your MSEd degree?
I plan on using my HEA degree to eventually progress to a director position within a college administrative office. In the long term, I am not entirely sure whether I will continue working in an admissions role, but some of my other interests would be to work in either: a study abroad department; EOP (Educational Opportunity Program within the SUNY system) department; or SEEK office as an academic advisor.

As for the next few years, I am largely motivated to help the School of Public Affairs expand and develop its HEA degree. I believe that the program can continue to grow not only in size but offerings of specializations. As a part of the admissions team, I would like to help build the reputation of the program that spans outside of just NYC and help create more networking opportunities in more CUNY, SUNY, and private schools for the students currently in the program.

You have the unique perspective of working as part of the School’s Office of Graduate Admissions while working toward your degree. Can you tell us about the type of student the School of Public Affairs attracts? How do you make their journey through the admissions process easier?
Our graduate programs are designed to allow individuals who work full-time to be able to study at their own pace, as can be demonstrated by a variety of our classes being offered in the evenings. At the same time, we also encourage prospective students who wish to embark in full-time study to pursue a degree here at the School of Public Affairs. With our wonderful career services staff, networking events, and dedicated academic advisors, we strive to create work opportunities for our students as much as provide services that help individuals navigate through their studies.

Having the ability to be both a student as well as a worker in the graduate admissions department, I am able to anticipate and understand the most common concerns of students. I strive to be available at all times and through all means of communication so that I can help guide prospective students through the process. I like to take my time with each student and tailor the conversation around their specific questions rather than just give a general criteria checklist. I reach out to all new applicants on a daily basis to introduce myself and let them know that I am available to answer questions.

I am also working on more detailed FAQs and graduate assistantship content for our website in order to keep improving the information that applicants can access. After all, I remember when I was applying, I was very nervous about all the steps I had to take. But I felt more reassured when I spoke to a real person about my queries and I hope that prospective students will feel the same way when speaking to our admissions team.