What roles have you had throughout your time at Berkeley and what do you think contributed to your promotions?
I began working at Berkeley during undergrad, as a work study student in the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office. After completing my masters and working as a therapist for several years, I found myself transitioning back to campus as an Administrative Assistant for financial aid. In this role, I was able to help with walk-in advising and assisting with fall semester start-up processing. In addition to this, the department was in the midst of a restructure and beginning to plan for their collaboration with Cal Student Central.
Upon my return to campus, I had a very clear vision about my desire to be a support for students needing access to their education and learning to navigate the campus. I recalled my memories as a student and the transition from high school to college as an underrepresented student. Those experiences and the relationshipsI built during that time became my foundation for how I learned to navigate the campus as a professional employee. I became very intentional about what my motivations were for working in financial aid and how that related to my goals of student-centered services. Additionally, I was able to use my previous experience as a mental health clinician to quickly transition into the role of a Financial Aid Counselor.
As a Financial Aid Counselor, I was able to provide more direct support for students and their families. I learned more about federal and state regulations and the intricacies of financial aid processing. I became more curious and started to learn about other populations and specific programs such as the UC Education Abroad Program. I began to use my curiosity and desire to learn as a way to partner with other financial aid units and campus programs. During my 1.5 years as a counselor, I built relationships, asked a LOT of questions, and eventually applied for a senior analyst position within the department. I was offered the job and transitioned into the role of the Federal Direct Loan Coordinator.
This transition was very pivotal in my career and allowed me to understand the strength of being curious and taking chances that stretched my scope and experience. I continued to use this honest curiosity and desire for knowledge in my meetings with my supervisors and wanted opportunities for growth. About 2 years later, I transitioned to my current role in the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. I am currently serving as a Director of Compliance for athletic financial aid. In this role, I have maintained a strong relationship with the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office, but I have also had the opportunity to learn about a new division.
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You were a participant in the highly selective Leadership and Career Enhancement Program for Staff of Color (LCEP). What was the biggest lesson you learned in LCEP and how has it impacted you?
The Leadership and Career Enhancement Program (LCEP) for staff of color was a great opportunity and allowed me to ground and recenter myself in my commitment to the students, campus, and my values/motivations for working in higher education. It was an experience that truly allowed me to understand the value in my journey and perspective. I learned a lot from the program and from my peers who participated as well. However my greatest lesson was learning to trust in myself and seeing the value and strength in being authentic in my relationships with staff, managers, senior administrators, faculty, etc. The relationships we establish can truly transform our individual ability to grow, learn, and create opportunities for ourselves and others on campus. I am motivated to continue to build and maintain relationships throughout campus that help me to continue to grow in ways that support my desire to be a resource for underrepresented and marginalized communities who are looking to access and learn how to be successful at Berkeley.
What was the most motivating thing someone told you on your career journey that you think would help others?
Ask! - In the general sense, don’t be afraid to ask questions or reach out to others. Whether it is a simple question as you are learning a new job or an invitations to lunch or coffee, always be willing to initiate the conversation and gather more information. It can be the starting place for learning something new, understanding a different perspective, and building relationships that are truly supportive and allow you to grow.
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How else have you contributed to the larger UCB community outside of your immediate position?
I have been transparent about my desire for growth and new experiences that allow me to engage in other areas of campus that serve our students and staff. Being very intentional and honest about these desires allowed me to chair the Intercollegiate Athletic Department’s Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Task Force. I worked with our staff, campus partners, and senior administrators to access the needs of our students and staff, as well as to look at programs and partnerships that will help us make progress in areas of equity and inclusion.
Being able to dedicate my time and energy into a conversation and task force that I am passionate about, allowed me to be considered for other opportunities. I am also a member of the Gender, Equity, and Diversity Subcommittee of the University’s Athletic Board, and most recently, I was a member of the Campus Experience Working Group for the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Diversity Project. All of these experiences have kept me grounded in why I stay at UC Berkeley and motivate me to continue to grow in my career.
Any final words of wisdom to staff looking to grow their careers at UC Berkeley?
Don’t be afraid to explore new opportunities and get out of your comfort zone. I have found that volunteering for projects outside of my department and engaging in campus forums and events have allowed me to take on different roles that expand my skill-set and build my network.
Gain new experience by becoming involved in a staff organization or community of practice.
Lauryn Holloway is the Director of Compliance, Financial Aid within Intercollegiate Athletics. She is currently completing her dissertation to finish her doctorate in Educational Leadership. She has been a part of the UC Berkeley community for 6.5 years. To set-up an informational interview e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on LinkedIn.
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