Carter is recognized for work in Student Life
There is more to college than books and mortar and Adams State University Assistant Director of Student Life Jeni Carter challenges students to experience new opportunities and achieve success outside of the classroom. She will receive the NASPA IV-West Conference Colorado New Professional Rising Star Award at the annual Student Affairs Professional Conference in November, in St. Louis, Missouri.
According to naspa.org, NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, is the leading association for the advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Their mission is to be the principal source of leadership, scholarship, professional development, and advocacy for student affairs.
The IV West is the largest region within the circuit, covering ten states. “I never thought I would receive an award at the national level,” Carter said. An Adams State alumna ’09 ’12, she was very active in student life as an undergraduate and graduate student and when asked, “what would be your dream job,” she replies, “mine.”
Vice President of Student Services Ken Marquez and Aaron Miltenberger, director of Student Life and Recreation, wrote letters of support when nominating Carter for the honor. “In the time I have known Jeni; I have watched her transform from a passionate and driven leader into an incredible mentor and supporter of students,” Miltenberger said.
Marquez agreed: “Her desire to get the most out of her professional experience is evident from her ability to problem solve, juggle multiple responsibilities and provide commitments as an active student leader.”
Carter’s duties as assistant director include teaching and advising three student organizations – including the Grizzly Activity Board, the National Society of Leadership and Success, and the Multicultural Student Governance Committee which includes the Center for Student Inclusivity. The latter being a new program developed last year. “We are fortunate to be able to create a safe and inclusive space within Student Life that offers cultural clubs support, as well as the opportunity for students to learn and share amongst multiple cultures and identities.”
She also supervises 24 work-study students, the audio/visual department, and one post-bachelor’s intern. “This internship offers young professionals the opportunity to learn about student affairs and student life on a professional level while applying for graduate school.”
Soon after starting her position at Adams State, in September 2014, Carter established the National Society of Leadership and Success Chapter, an organization that has already grown to over 250 student members. “The organization kick starts leadership development. Too many students do not view themselves as leaders. This helps to branch out the idea of leadership across campus and grows students’ interest in learning about their own leadership through campus involvement.”
No two days are the same for Carter, and her hours are “all over the place.” She works many evenings and weekends. “My challenge is finding balance. I care so much about all aspects. It hurts when I can’t give everything my everything.” Finding strong student leaders she can trust and empower, helps alleviate stress and allows students the ability to grow and develop.
Matthew Tulley, a junior at Adams State, wrote a letter of recommendation for Carter to receive the award. “”Jeni has been an incredible force of inspiration for me as a student here at Adams State. Her guidance helped me to find my niche within diversity and inclusion work. She gave me the opportunity to be the spear-head and organizer of the Multicultural Student Governance. She models a kind of mentorship and advising that I wish to do with future students.”
“Receiving the award feels like the cherry on top," Carter said. "It is the little successes and moments that every day remind me why I do what I do.”
Her father passed away in 2010, just a year after she earned her undergraduate degree in business. At the time, she had started a career in the banking industry in Colorado Springs. “During one of our last conversations, he said he regretted so much of his life spent living for work." Carter re-examined her life. "I found my true passion in student affairs. If I can help other college students find their passions and get into a career they will love, that will be my reward.”
Recently, Carter was selected to be a member of the College Personnel Association of Colorado (CPAC), a state division of the American College Personnel Association. “I believe I am the only representative from a small rural college. This helps put Adams on the map and includes more opportunities for Adams State student affairs professionals to become involved with our profession.”
She assisted in coordinating the CPAC Conference in Denver earlier this month. Next year she will be in the conference coordinator position.