By: Jessica L. Interdonato
While overcoming a cold, Kristin Austin was filling out paperwork in her office on a Monday morning, explaining her lengthy background of experience before winding up here at Bloomsburg. Austin graduated from Bloomsburg University in 2002, with a degree in both social work and deaf interpreting, and instantly moved back to her hometown of Erie, PA to begin a job, two days after her commencement, as an admissions counselor. Austin then further displayed her determination by working towards her Masters degree in counseling and higher education while working at Mercyhurst College in the admissions office, gaining more experience.
After realizing the she and her husband, Cerick, were young and “kidless,” they picked up and moved to North Carolina for a change of scenery.
“We figured, let’s move down south! Who doesn’t want to live at the beach?” said Austin, and she began working at Ross University in Charlotte, NC.
“We packed up our little U-Haul and didn’t have a house or anything,” said Austin. “We were just going to live in a hotel.” Despite the frequent location change, she was constantly dealing with admissions and loved working as a recruiter for colleges along the east coast.
“Then CJ came along,” said Austin, describing the arrival of her son. “We quickly realized that while living at the beach and leading this fun, young life was exciting, our priorities had now changed.” Making the move back to Pennsylvania to be closer to their family came to be a great decision for the Austins, as she filled an open position in the orientation office, that she currently holds at Bloomsburg University.
“My happiness dictates my parenting,” explains Austin, as she describes her reasoning for being a hard working career mom. “You cannot be a good parent, if you are not happy and I felt as though I needed to come back to work.”
Following the former coordinator’s plans and getting accustomed to the schedule, proved to be a challenge for Austin, since she began running her first busy orientation weekend under already made arrangements.
“I felt like my hands were tied while trying to do the job because I didn’t know enough to make any changes,” said Austin. “The transition was hard but now I know that these are all my programs.”
To ease the transition, Austin was accompanied by an assistant, Megan, a secretary, Jodi, and about 50 orientation workshop leaders, better known as OWLs.
Austin discusses her current position as the Coordinator of New Student Orientation.
“Most importantly, the job entails the actual programming aspects of orientation,” said Austin. “It’s coming up with the ideas and ways to communicate the critical information to the new students in a way that is going to be well received.” Austin especially stressed how hard it is to accommodate the orientation needs due to the increasingly large amounts of incoming students.
About two months ago, Austin had the privilege, or in some ways, the chore, to run the hiring process for new OWLs. There were more than 100 applications that Austin had to review, and only had 40 positions to fill.
“I looked at the interview process like I would look any ‘new hire,’” said Austin, “and I think we got the best of the best.”
When asked about any hopes or future plans for the OWLs she is in charge of, Austin said, “my goal is to cultivate a very passionate group of leaders. My goal is that what the OWLs do and learn here at Bloomsburg will walk with them as they cross the stage at graduation.”