Maren Reisch

MA in Higher Education Leadership

What do you hope to do with your degree and/or credential, and why?

I have always felt very connected to the environment that’s created at a university. With my degree, I’ll be qualified to do the work I love with undergraduate students—advising them, helping them make the most of their education in a holistic way. This means that I won’t be in the classroom, but will be advising students in an extracurricular environment. 

When did you begin your program, and when do you anticipate completing it?

I began my program in September 2014, and anticipate graduating in May 2016.

How did you hear about SOLES, and why did you choose to enroll?

I went to the NASPA website and looked at all the universities and colleges that offer master’s degrees in Higher Education/Student Affairs. There were a LOT. I spent days going through each program and learning all about them. One of the schools I came across was the University of San Diego. I was intrigued by the school’s commitment to social justice and the international study requirement. When I reached out for more information, the Admissions office was friendly and responsive—they even followed up with me after our conversation. I ended up applying to USD and two other schools. But even as I was applying to other places, I kept imagining myself in San Diego. Once I was offered a graduate assistantship doing the work I’m so passionate about, enrolling was an easy and natural choice.

What is your background? For example, where are you from, where else have you earned a degree, and where have you worked?

I am originally from a small town in western New York. I knew that I wanted to live far away for college, so I chose to attend Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. It was a fantastic decision, and I loved my undergraduate experience at Knox. I majored in anthropology and sociology, with a minor in french. After graduation, I moved to Boston to begin an AmeriCorps year serving out-of-school youth. During my service, I lived at poverty level and really experienced how difficult it is to make ends meet. I worked in another nonprofit in Boston before realizing that I needed to return to my passion of working in student affairs. 

Tell us about any internships, graduate assistantships, student teaching, practicum or fieldwork you have done through SOLES. Where did you work, what did you do, and how did it impact you?

I’m part of the Student Affairs/SOLES Collaborative, which means that I work on campus as a graduate assistant. My job is in the Student Leadership, Involvement & Changemaking. For twenty hours a week (roughly) I advise undergraduate student leaders, helping them move their passions forward and create a better USD community. Advising is the best part of my job, because I get to learn all about the passions of the students here at USD. Their energy and creativity are inspiring. In addition to advising, I plan the Alcalá Bazaar, USD’s club fair, each semester. I help plan and facilitate trainings for student leaders and student employees. All of these responsibilities are exactly the kinds of things I want to do when I graduate, so my job is great preparation for the working world!

What are your plans for after graduation? What is your dream job?

After graduation, I’d like to take a job at a college or university where I’ll have direct contact with students every day. Ideally, I’d like to work in student activities—with student government, Greek life, or student organizations. I can see myself going back to the east coast, but who knows? The west coast has the best weather. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective students?

Don’t be afraid to move! Moving far away for college and grad school forced me outside my comfort zone and has definitely made me a stronger, more self-sufficient individual. Finding new friends and support systems can be scary, but it’s so rewarding to have friends all over the world. I loved arriving in San Diego and carving out a niche for myself. The friends you make here will last forever, as cheesy as that sounds. USD is an extremely welcoming community. Take the chance!