Being present is a motto that Sarah Frazier, recent graduate and UCCS alumnus, lives by, after earning a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees. She does not want to miss the moment while it is here.
Frazier received her Master of Arts in Leadership with a concentration in Student Affairs in Higher Education (SAHE) from UCCS in May 2020. With this degree, Frazier was able to get a job at the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA), where she currently works in Cadet Activities. Frazier also worked for Student Activities with Student Life at UCCS, so her new career is similar to what she enjoyed doing at her alma mater.
Prior to attending UCCS, Frazier earned her bachelor’s degree in recreation sport management from the University of Tennessee and her first master’s at Cleveland State University in recreation sport management.
After earning both degrees in recreation sport management, Frazier had a change of heart and then changed her focus.
“I realized I really loved being on a college campus and really loved the school atmosphere and the way you grow as a student. I wanted to be a part of that and that is what led me to UCCS and this career,” Frazier said. She knew where she belonged and thrived, so earning another degree to shift career paths was ultimately the right decision that led her to her current occupation.
“My role is called Cadet Activities, just because of the population, and they aren’t really referred to as students there, it’s cadet work. It’s pretty much the same as Student Activities at UCCS. We’ll do large-scale events.”
Recently, Frazier helped put on one of her first student events for the cadets at the Academy.
“We had a movie night with a big blow-up screen and a food truck with a lot of different options for the cadets. We had activities, like a climbing wall,” Frazier said.
Since this was similar to her job with Student Life at UCCS, organizing student events is her forte, but having a new setting has been helpful for Frazier.
“It’s been really interesting, because there’s a lot of different resources at the Academy, so it’s been exciting to try to plan things that the cadets want to do,” Frazier said.
Frazier provides students with activities and downtime after rigorous day-to-day routines at the Academy.
“It’s the fun part for them. There’s so much they have to do in terms of school, athletics and military training, so we can be that fun outlet,” Frazier said.
Her job with Student Life made the transition from a student at UCCS to the Cadet Activities organizer at USAFA seamless.
“Specifically, with my program [at UCCS], it was interesting to learn those more specialized skills of how to talk to a student and understanding how students develop through their college years. I wouldn’t have learned that outside of studying that major.”
Frazier’s experience at UCCS was made better by the professors she had, especially her favorite, Sylvia Mendez, a Ph.D. professor in the College of Education.
“At UCCS specifically, the professors we have are very knowledgeable. They do a lot of research on their own. They’re not just here teaching; they’re doing their studies, and they’re able to bring that to classrooms.”
Outside the classroom and cohort of other graduate students in her program, Frazier benefitted from the assistance that professors gave to the students to help find hands-on experience in their occupation.
“[Professors] also very much encouraged us to either have a grad assistantship or to get a job in higher ed. They were very helpful sending out positions.”
This opportunity is ultimately what led Frazier to her position with Student Life.
“I had my grad assistantship in Student Life, which very much prepared me, because I’m pretty much doing that same thing now.”
To get where Frazier is now, with a bachelor’s, two master’s and many valuable lessons-learned, she speaks to one piece of advice she wants to pass down to other students in higher ed.
“My biggest takeaway is to always ask for help when you need it.” Without help, Frazier would not be where she is or have made the connections that she has, especially since her experience was different than the norm.
“It was weird for me, deciding to go back to change my career path, since I’d already been through school and had that degree, you know I’m older, and I wasn’t fresh out of undergrad or anything,” Frazier said.
This is when her connection with people in Student Life became integral in her education and learning experience.
“Since this was a different field from my undergrad and previous master’s degree, I really needed to rely on other people around me. Especially in Student Life, you know, Stephen [Cucchiara], Amandine [Habben] and Jon [Bogh]. I could go into any of their offices and close the door, and they would be honest and give me really good feedback.
“No matter who it is, it is OK to ask for help when you need it and try to understand things better with the help of others [rather] than just trying to be on their own,” Frazier said.
Frazier recommends for any undergraduate students that are considering getting a master’s degree to really allow enough time to consider and think about if the career path that you want to take will be something that will make you happy. She also thinks that reaching out to students currently getting their degrees in your intended program is a great way to know if you will enjoy the program yourself.
However, Frazier had one main takeaway from UCCS, other than the many skills and knowledge she acquired for leadership.
“I really do think my biggest piece of advice is just to pause and really experience the good while you’re in it, because you are going to look back and you’re going to think ‘that was so much fun.’ Take the time to be like ‘I’m here,’ and nothing else in your life is ever going to be like this experience.
“It’s so unique to be a student in higher education, and nothing else will ever compare to it. So, take the time to realize the accomplishments you’ve already done and realize you’re working toward an even bigger one,” Frazier said. “Take time to enjoy the journey.”