Meghan Perez: 2020 Courageous Change Leader

Photo of Meghan Perez. She is standing outside in front of trees, is smiling, and is wearing a dark blue shirt.

The Courageous Change Leader award is the highest honor bestowed on a staff member within the Division of Student Affairs. It was created to honor the individuals who have embodied the commitment statements outlined in our strategic plan and any member of the campus community is welcome to nominate a staff member. It is with great pleasure that we announce Meghan Perez, Assistant Director in the Office of the Student Experience as the recipient of this year’s award. 

Meghan received multiple nominations outlining why she is deserving of this award and it was incredible to see the common threads amongst all of the narratives. Meghan’s influence extends beyond her specific areas of responsibility to the entire division. She has repeatedly been sought after to serve on committees, task forces, search committees, and special projects. Meghan is known among her colleagues as a serious Student Affairs professional, committed to excellence and dedicated to maximizing the effectiveness of each project. She is also a ton of fun and the type of person you want to work with no matter the task. She certainly models the type of division member we need, remaining committed to personal congruence while achieving goals collaboratively and efficiently. 

Many of Meghan’s characteristics are admirable, but her commitment to developing students stands out above the rest. 

Colleagues are consistently impressed by the way she interacts with a student that stops by her office, engages a student that comes to eat lunch in the suite, or talks about students in her program. Each interaction is personal and caring—she knows specific details about what is going on in everyone’s world and uses those details to intentionally check in on students or push them to submit an internship application. Meghan easily develops meaningful relationships and students trust her personally and professionally. While students are attracted to her fun-loving nature, they also know that she is committed to their growth and does not shy away from difficult conversations intended to push them forward in their development. It is no stretch to say that Meghan actively shapes world changers in her daily work through the leadership programs she creates and oversees as well as the individual relationships she cultivates with students. 

Meghan Perez pushes division members to be better Student Affairs professionals, better friends, and better colleagues. She is committed to saying our commitment statements as loudly as possible at every division meeting (she can be heard above the crowd), and more importantly, she is committed to acting out every single one of those commitment statements. Meghan is working every day to develop world changers and innovate our work, and she is more than deserving of the 2020 Courageous Change Leader Award. 

Check out Meghan’s award presentation here!


 

2020 Courageous Change Leader Award Presentation

Congratulations to Meghan Perez, 2020 Courageous Change Leader

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For more information about the Division of Student Affairs at SMU, please visit www.smu.edu/studentaffairs.

Recognizing professional and academic achievements among Student Affairs staff

Over the past year, our dedicated staff within the Division of Student Affairs have been hard at work in their professional and academic achievements. Read more about these incredible accomplishments below:

  • Dr. Wendelin Donahue, Associate Director of Employer Relations, was selected to serve as a director for the Board of Directors for Voice of Hope and Step Up Women’s Network Dallas Chapter.
  • Sandra Scheidegger, Assistant Director of Employer Relations, was selected as a panel facilitator at the 2020 Southern Association for Colleges and Employers (SoACE). She hosted Expanding our Options, a Virtual Internship Employer Panel.
  • Kristin Smart, Associate Director for Career Development, completed all requirements to earn her LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) certification in September 2019.
  • Dr. Crystal Clayton, Executive Director for the Hegi Family Career Development Center, was appointed in January 2020 to a three-year term as a director on the Plano Chamber Board of Directors.
  • Dr. Essence Smith, Assistant Director for Employer Relations, graduated with her Ed.D. from SMU in May 2020 from the Simmons School of Education and Human Development
  • Dr. Veronica Davis, Associate Chaplain to the University, successfully defended her dissertation in August 2019. 
  • Tyler Kim, Program Coordinator for the Office of the Chaplain and Religious Life, was admitted to SMU’s Ed.D. program and began courses in the fall of 2020.
  • Madison Mucci-Ferris, Residential Community Director, obtained her MBA from SMU’s Cox School of Business. Mucci-Ferris was also selected to receive SMU’s Courageous Change Leader Award in 2019, and served as a Committee Member, SWACUHO, Exhibits and Displays Committee from 2019-2020.
  • Dr. Allison Kanny, Director for Student Affairs Administration, was elected Chair of the ACPA Commission for Assessment and Evaluation’s Membership/Organizational Development Committee.
  • Erica Zamora, Director of the Office of Social Change and Intercultural Engagement, was elected as Co-Chair for the MultiRacial Knowledge Community
  • Meghan Perez, Assistant Director of the Office of the Student Experience, was selected as Communication Team Lead for the NASPA Student Leadership Programs Knowledge Community
  • Dr. Lindsey Koch, Director of the Office of Student Experience and Dr. Liljana Elverskog, Faculty in Residence for Mary Hay Peyton Shuttles Commons, were recipients of the M award, SMU’s highest honor.
  • Blake Pollard, Student Center and Activities Coordinator, was selected by the SMU Student Senate as the 2020 Staff Member of the Year.
  • Lauren Chapman, Associate Director for Student Center and Activities was selected as one of the ACUI regional conference top three presentations. The presentation, entitled, Let No Detail Go Undone: Using Spreadsheets for Efficient Event Planning was later turned into a webinar.
  • Jennifer “JJ” Jones, Executive Director for Student Development was a contributing author for the textbook, Fraternities and Sororities in the Contemporary Era. Jones was also admitted to SMU’s Ed.D. program and began coursework in the Fall 2020 semester.
  • Dr. Sidney Gardner, Director of the Women and LGBT Center was asked to give a talks sponsored by EY affinity groups; Dallas Unity and Professional Women’s Network Pride Month called “Ally Begins with All”  Gardner was also asked to serve as a panelist for a UT Southwestern Medical Center discussion entitled “Visibility, Identity, and Advocacy: A discussion about navigating relationships within the LGBTQ+ community” as part of Pride Month. She was also asked to serve as a facilitator for the North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce LGBT Leadership Institute, and served in another capacity within the North Texas Chamber of Commerce at the Foundation Business & Community Excellence Awards.
  • Melinda Carlson, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Residence Life and Student Housing, was elected to serve as the Chair of the Women in Housing network for ACUHO-I
  • Dustin Grabsch, Director for Academic Partnerships in Residence Life, received the Dissertation of the Year award from the Texas Association of College and University Student Personnel Administrators in 2019. Grabsch was also selected to 
  • Amanda Bobo, Assistant Director of Residence Life, was selected as the Chair of the SWACUHO Exhibit and Displays Committee. Her term will run from 2018-2022. 
  • Eleanor Luna, Associate Director of Training for RLSH, was selected as SWACUHO’s Texas State Director from 2018-2020. 
  • Michelle Madsen, Associate Director of Residence Life, was selected to serve on SWACUHO’s Exhibits and Displays Committee in 2018. 
  • Jennifer Post, Director of Residence Life, finished her term as an Executive Board Member for the Residential College Society in 2019. 
  • Susan Strobel Hogan, Senior Associate Director for Assignments, RLSH, served as Historian, SWACUHO, 2017-2020. She was elected as the Chair-elect for the ACUHO-I Talking Stick Advisory Board  in 2019 and subsequently served as the Chair of the Talking Stick Advisory Board, ACUHO-I, 2019

PRESENTATIONS:

  • Melinda Carlson, Assistant Vice President and Dean of Residence Life and Student Housing, served as a panelist for ACUHO-I Virtual Round Table for Senior Housing Officers, held on May 7, 2020. Carlson was also selected to serve as a panelist for the discussion, “Women in Housing: The Roads We’ve Traveled,” and as the host and presenter for the “Women in Housing Network Community of Practice” event, both of which were part of the 2020 ACUHO-I Virtual Summit. On May 29th, Melinda Carlson hosted the event, “Lean on Me- How Womxn Support Womxn in the Housing Profession” as part of the ACUHO-I Women in Housing Network Webinar.
  • Nick Blair, Residential Community Director for Morrison-McGinnis Commons, presented the paper, Working for or against you, operating within the complex culture of residential colleges at the Residential College Symposium in Waco, TX in November, 2019
  • Amanda Bobo, Assistant Director of Residence Life, Northern area, presented at the SWACUHO Annual Conference in Sugar Land, TX. The presentation was titled,  National Housing Training Institute: Exploring the possibilities. 
  • Dustin Grabsch, Director for Academic Partnerships in Residence Life, presented the paper, Social justice learning communities: Results and implications from a national benchmark analysis at NASPA’s Multicultural Institute in New Orleans, LA in December 2019. Additionally, Grabsch presented at the SWACUHO Annual Conference in Sugar Land, TX, where he presented, Students with autism: Understanding expectations of a growing population on-campus. Grabsch also co-presented at SMU’s Research Days in Dallas with the presentations, Student attendance at residential college system activities; Developing a thriving student experience; Impact of a residential college model on students, faculty and staff; and Academic and student success within a Residential College model. 
  • Emily Kilburg, Residential Community Director for Crum Commons, presented the paper, Working for or against you, operating within the complex culture of residential colleges at the Residential College Symposium in Waco, TX in November 2019.
  • Eleanor Luna, Associate Director of Training and Development for RLSH, presented the paper, Intentional RA recruitment  at the Southwest Association for College and University Housing Officers Conference, held in Sugar Land, TX in February 2020. 
  • Michelle Madsen, Assistant Director of Residence Life, and Jennifer Post, Director of Residence Life, co-presented the paper, Lesson learned five years in at the Residential College Symposium in Waco, TX in November 2019. 
  • Matt Nadler, Residential Community Director, Upper Division Housing, and Sarah Ballman, Residential Community Director for Cockrell-McIntosh Commons, presented the at the 2019 Residential College Symposium in Waco, TX in July, 2019 with the paper, Don’t go it alone: Empowering your hall staff to use StarRez.

GRANTS: 

  • Lauren Anne Cove, Residential Community Director for Armstrong Commons, was a grant recipient from the Hopper-Dean Foundation for the project, “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEM.”
  • Dustin Grabsch, Director for Academic Partnerships in Residence Life and Student Housing, and Jennifer Post, Director of Residence Life, both received the Academic and Student Success in Residential Colleges,Research Grant from  SWACUHO.

PROFESSIONAL PUBLICATIONS: 

  • Dr. Dustin Grabsch, Director for Academic Partnerships in Residence Life and Student Housing, contributed to the article, CUE-ing Student Success: Evaluating Academic Support Space in Residential Communities, which was published in the Journal of College and University Student Housing. Grabsch also contributed to the article, Self-reported professional development needs by professional level, which was published in the College Student Affairs Journal. Additionally, Dr. Grabsch first authored the paper, Does testing type matter? Comparing the impact of instant and traditional feedback methods on student learningIn February 2020, Grabsch co-authored the paper, Predispositions for participation in high-impact practices.
  • Madison Mucci-Ferris, Residential Community Director, co-authored the article, Social Support and Mental Health During COVID, which was published in October 2020.