New FYE director hopes to inspire, challenge students




Feb. 26, 2014

by Kristie Weiss


Connect. Achieve. Succeed.  This is the motto of the First Year Experience (FYE) office, which provides guidance to incoming students and families to help transition them into the college community.

This semester, FYE welcomes two new people to lead the office: Director Beth John and Assistant Director Amberly Bell.

John’s position involves many roles, such as a teacher, administrator and an event planner, to name a few.  Overall, she is a leader to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater community. Bell oversees the summer and fall orientation programs for incoming freshmen and transfer students.

John said she was driven to UW-W because of the university’s great reputation.  With the First Year Experience already a huge success, she wanted to take it even further.

John said one of her former colleagues asked her, “What is your ‘velcro’ to the profession?”  John realized her ‘velcro’ to student affairs was “my passion for authentic student learning.”

To follow her passion, John said she has three steps: first, to go where the learning is; second, caring and expressing concern for a person overseas all; and lastly, believe in yourself.

John received her Bachelor of Arts degree in social sciences from Mount St. Clare College and went on to receive her masters degree in College Student Personnel from Western Illinois University.  She also received her Ed. D. in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in higher education from Edgewood College in Wisconsin.

John said she realized her passion for student and academic affairs through a quote from Michael Nolan, “There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart. Pursue those.”

Before UW-W, John received her first job right out of college as the assistant dean of student activities at Edgewood College, where she stayed for more than 12 years.  Like the First Year Experience office at UW-W, she was in charge of providing incoming students with the information and experience they needed to help transition them into their college careers.

John said getting involved in other professional organizations outside her career is an important aspect of her life.  She has been passively involved with the American College Personnel Association, along with many leadership roles in the Commission in Student Involvement and the Standing Committee for Multicultural Affairs.

John presents at regional and national conferences for these organizations.

“The FYE department is always changing in terms of our programs to best reach our incoming class of students,” Bell said.

John said coming in already with a committed staff, graduate students and undergraduate student leaders, has given her high hopes for the department and program.  To keep growing on the program’s success, John said she in her first months here she plans to spend her time immersing herself in the culture of the university, meeting with students and partners on campus.

John said the primary focus of the department will be on incorporating a continuous improvement model, improving the social media presence to reach out to the students and making sure the freshmen class gets off on the right foot its second semester here.  John said she also is looking to fill three assistantship positions and improve the syllabus for the First Year Experience course new students can enroll in.

John said she and her work have been influenced by her family and friends around her, along with her educational opportunities.  John said her main goal in student affairs is to keep focusing on students’ needs and interests, along with providing them with the environment they need to grow and succeed.

John said she welcomes all students to stop by her office in the University Center, Room 245.

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