student Spotlight

October Student Spotlight with Hannah Borgeson, MSEd '20

oct 17 student spotlight

MSEd students at the Marxe School share a deep respect and love for higher education. The multi-faceted nature of a career in higher ed means there are numerous approaches to each aspect. Hannah Borgeson discusses her favorite projects, using streamlined computerized systems to better harness data, and her higher education career thus far.

What have been your favorite projects so far?
There have definitely been some projects that have made a particular impact on me. In Prof. Smith's Student Services class, I came up with a new design for student services at a large CUNY community college. An ‘org chart’ was at the heart of that project, and of course the next semester we threw ‘org charts’ out the window in Prof. Stark's Management class. I still believe in the set-up I recommended, though, and recently read about a university in Canada that successfully implemented a similar arrangement after a multi-year roll-out.

Most recently, in Prof. Apfel's Finance class, I researched the discourse surrounding free tuition and public funding at City College and CUNY going back to the 1920s. The exact same arguments seem to surface again and again, to the extent that I would sometimes have to double check whether I was reading about the past or the present. That's both frustrating and enlightening to see.

How do you hope to use your MSEd degree to effect change?
I want to be the best possible advocate for public higher education and its role in improving the city as well as individual lives and communities. The knowledge I'm gaining in the HEA program, including the history of post-secondary education in the United States as well as the intricacies of current operations, is all geared toward that end.

Another area I'd like to address pertains to computerized data systems, which often seem to complicate rather than improve the workings of our schools. As a user and advocate, I'd like to see us better harnessing the data while at the same time streamlining systems to work together smoothly. One example of the former is a nationwide study looking at numerous data points to ascertain how colleges affect social mobility, something that would have been difficult to impossible prior to this era of "big data." The result was incredibly enlightening, and not just because City College (my workplace since 2014) was found to have produced the second highest social mobility rate of any college in the United States.

How would you describe your higher education career thus far? What sets it apart from your previous career in communications?
My work in higher education has been incredibly fulfilling. My roles both in a private university and now at City College have included a wonderful mix of strategy, operations, customer service – you name it. I segued into this from reference publishing and nonprofit communications. At the nonprofits, including New York Road Runners and Bike New York, I learned a lot and helped pull off some amazing events, including the emotional New York City Marathon less than two months after the attacks of September 11, 2001. These were also varied roles including communications, customer service, and technology, but I did not have the same level of interaction with the participants that I do now with students and faculty. At City College, I particularly appreciate the focus on the mission of serving needy students as well as the city; there is a sense that we are all working together toward a common goal, and that we have a lot to learn from one another.

What’s your ideal position in higher education?
I am not after a specific position so much as a work environment that includes a variety of challenges, a strong team, a meaningful mission, adequate resources, and the ability to make a difference. I'm lucky to have that right now in my role as graduate student services manager at the Spitzer School of Architecture. We're the smallest school at City College, which has many advantages, but eventually I'd like to be in a role with broader reach.