Husky Hired: Kristen Harrell

Where are they now?


Kristen Harrell
 

Kristen Harrell made her mark while still at the University of Washington and has continued to build a career in Student Affairs with increasing responsibilities. In a wide-ranging array of jobs for HFS during her student years, Kristen was a Resident Adviser (RA), an Office Assistant and a Conference Assistant. (Plus she was on the UW women’s crew team.) 

She gained something from each position.  

The RA role came with a lot of responsibilities. Kristen lived on her designated floors that housed 25 to 100 students. The primary staff contact, she provided community development, education, and referrals. As needed, she maintained on-call responsibilities to respond to behavioral issues and lock-outs. She also conducted roommate mediations and assisted in peer support. (On the marketing side, she created, posted and maintained a non-stop number of educational bulletin boards, a skill she appreciates and uses to this day.) All of those duties translated into future skills applicable to her career development, such as learning how to appropriately confront issues where there may be behavioral concerns. “I became much more comfortable engaging in healthy conflict with my peers and others,” says Kristen. She has also been continuing to use mediation skills in all kinds of settings, work or otherwise. Add program management, event planning and marketing and Kristen became a strong candidate for her ensuing career in Student Affairs.  
 

She notes that the Conference Assistant position gave her a great perspective on how organizations function. “I got the opportunity to observe some of the climate of a variety of groups who utilized housing space during the summers,” says Kristen. “Everything from youth sports camps to high school teachers to bankers.” Seeing so many forms of organizational cultures helped her grow in her understanding of the underlying systems of organizations she joins or works with.  

Kristen also mentions that as a student, RA and student athlete, she needed to hone her existing time management and organizational skills to be able to prioritize and balance her time. That need for a healthier balance was brought home when she overextended herself one semester.  

Because she was interacting with a wide range of supervisory staff as well as students, Kristen found she was seeing and learning from the different styles of leaders and managers. For Kristen this marked the start of acquiring skills in how to appropriately understand expectations and to verbalize concerns. She also developed a deeper sense of how information is shared both up and down in an organization’s system of hierarchies.  

From another perspective, Kristen values the opportunity she had to be involved with diverse populations. "The experience of working with students from all over the country and world gave me some perspectives on why some people think and believe what they do. This has granted me greater patience and calm when confronted with triggers as well as behaviors that concern
me. " 

Kristen has held a number of jobs since graduating, including being a Resident Director at the UW, a direct result of her RA experience. That in turn led to her Hall Director position at Colorado State University, followed by three positions of increasing responsibility at Texas A&M University: Assistant Coordinator for Student Conduct, University Program Coordinator, Alcohol and Drug Education, and Associate Coordinator, Offices of the Dean of Student Life. 

Since 2010, she has been the Associate Director, Offices of the Dean of Student Life at Texas A&M, a position that makes use of all the skills Kristen developed as a student employee for HFS.  
 

For those interested in working at HFS, Kristen offers some tips: “For RAs, don’t forget to focus on the students on your floor; it’s easy to get wrapped up in the friendships you have with others on staff. Understand there is a need for self-care. Seek out the support systems that are there for you. Make sure you don’t forget your academics. The work you do for HFS can be extraordinarily helpful in future work; if you’re not sure how to reflect that on your resume, seek out campus career services resources to frame it right. And have fun!”  

Note: The UW’s National Residence Hall Honorary (NHRR) chapter is named in honor of Kristen, who, as an RA, revitalized the dormant chapter, including the addition of service projects and expanding service as a community resource. NRHH is the only nationwide organization that exclusively recognizes student leaders in the residence halls. 

Then:   

  • Resident Adviser, Office Assistant, Conference Assistant between autumn 1996 and spring 2000 

Now: 

  • Associate Director, Offices of the Dean of Student Life at Texas A&M   

Degree: 

  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology