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ARP 623: Critical Leadership Issues in Student Affairs

Professional Development Plan

Danny Oliveira
San Diego State University


My career goals are focused around my passion for supporting the

personal development and degree attainment of university students,
particularly low-income first-generation college students like myself. The
area of Student Affairs that I believe I can make the most impact for students
is in Federal TRIO programs such as the Office of Educational Opportunity
Programs and Ethnic Affairs (EOP) at San Diego State University. My
immediate goal upon graduation from SDSU with a Master of Arts degree in
Postsecondary Educational Leadership is a position as an EOP Counselor. I
have known many of the EOP Counselors at SDSU for many years and
currently work in this office as a Graduate Assistant. I have witnessed
firsthand the impact that these professionals have made in the retention and
success of underrepresented students on this campus. I have met frequently
with two of the current Counselors to inquire about their roles in the
department and strategies that they employ in their work with students.
Within three years I expect to take on an informal leadership role with the
EOP Counseling staff. There is an expected turnover in the majority of the
current staff with at least two pending retirements as well as others who are
rumored to be searching for employment at other institutions. This presents
an opportunity for new leadership roles in the next few years. During this
time I will become involved in the regional professional association, Western
Association of Educational Opportunity Personnel (WESTOP). I will attend
their professional development seminars and attend their annual conference.
I will volunteer to serve as conference staff as a means to expand my


professional network in the region. Here on campus, I will volunteer to serve

on committees within the EOP department as well as the Division of Student
Affairs in order to expand my knowledge, influence, and network beyond my
job description.
Within five years I expect to take on a more formal leadership role in the
department, potentially as an Assistant Director. In order to achieve this
goal I will need to expand my involvement in the department beyond that of
a typical EOP Counselor. I will need experience in all aspects of the
department including Outreach, Recruitment, and Admissions. I will take on
responsibilities for First Contact Orientation, Summer Bridge, Transfer Bridge,
SOAR Mentor Program, and the Guardian Scholars program in which I am
currently working as my Graduate Assistantship. Building relationships with
staff in other departments that EOP collaborates with will also be helpful in
expanding my sphere of influence and my understanding of the larger
context of the departments functions. With a comprehensive role in the
entire scope of the department, I will be poised for more advanced
leadership roles in the department and the Division.
My ultimate career goal in Student Affairs is to become the EOP Director. I
hope to achieve this goal within ten years of beginning my employment in
this department. I believe in the mission of the department and TRIO
Programs. There is a need to support first generation and underrepresented
populations in the pursuit of higher education. The public school system is
not equitable across the state and nation. Programs like this are necessary


to level the playing field for college students. Although I aspire to become
EOP Director at SDSU, I am wary of the current political environment in the
Student Affairs Division. Morale in this department is very low. There have
been many questionable personnel decisions that may have been assigned
unethically. The volatile political climate of the current administration is
having a negative effect on staff effectiveness and their career satisfaction. I
hope that through my experience in the coming years I will become
politically savvy in order to navigate this climate and be an effective leader.
I will also consider opportunities for advancement of my career at other
institutions in San Diego County. I have some important connections at
institutions such as UC San Diego, University of San Diego, CSU San Marcos
and community colleges such as Southwestern College and Cuyamaca
College. An outside perspective is often valued by institutions seeking a
change in their leadership ranks.
Through my seven years as a Student Affairs professional and two years
as a graduate assistant, in addition to five years as a secondary education
teacher, I have amassed a skill set that has made me uniquely qualified as a
candidate for a career as an EOP Counselor. I have extensive experience in
advising and mentoring student leaders and student organizations. I have
skills in student organization development, leadership development, program
management, event planning and coordination, teaching and presentation
skills, curriculum development, database management, publication software,
and social media marketing. I have also developed a degree of multicultural


competence that is particularly important for this work. Throughout my adult

life, I have embraced the responsibility of serving as a positive male role
model in young peoples lives to instill self-confidence and the capacity to
thrive and achieve academic and personal success.
Skills and competencies that I seek to acquire and strengthen include staff
supervision, formal personal counseling skills and interventions, program
assessment and evaluation, and budgeting and resource management. The
more immediate priority among these is the development of formal
counseling skills. I will consider furthering my education in this area through
certification programs and other means to develop these skills. The other
skills listed here will become increasingly important as I take on additional
responsibilities in pursuit of advancement to leadership positions in the
department and division. Topics directly related to a career as an EOP
Counselor that I want to learn about include student retention strategies,
access and recruitment strategies, TRIO program policies and initiatives, and
concepts and programs related to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
To further my professional development, I will pursue opportunities to
serve on campus hiring committees, strategic planning committees, and
other volunteer opportunities within the division of student affairs. I will
continue to seek opportunities for student organization advising, especially
my own fraternity chapter. As mentioned previously, I will be actively
involved in WESTOP, the regional professional association. I will also
participate in the national association, COE or Council for Opportunity in


Education as well as NASPA and their various knowledge communities.

These organizations are a vital aspect of my professional development in
order to remain educated on current trends, policies, strategies, and best
practices. They also serve as a platform for professional networking and
leadership development. Aside from attending conferences, I will actively
seek professional development opportunities in Southern California that are
not associated directly with WESTOP. I will utilize my network and
collaborate with colleagues from other institutions in the region. I will
establish a network with local community college peers who work with
students who typically transfer to this institution. I will further my education
and knowledge base by participating in webinars, reading publications,
blogs, and other means to continue learning and progressing in my career.
I do not aspire to attain a doctorate degree. My career aspirations do
not include upper management positions such as Associate Vice President or
other senior administrator roles. I believe that the Masters degree will be
sufficient to attain a Director position. I will however need to connect with
senior administrators such as Dr. Reggie Blaylock - Associate VP for Student
Services; Christy Samarkos Associate VP for Campus Life, and Eric Rivera
Vice President for Student Affairs. I know Eric Rivera and Christy Samarkos
from my previous staff position at SDSU before they were promoted to their
current leadership positions. I am less familiar with Reggie Blaylock but have
met him through my current GA position in EOP. It will be increasingly
important to understand the agenda and philosophies of these campus


leaders in order to successfully navigate the political landscape that exists

within the Division of Student Affairs.
Last but certainly not least, I will need to strive for a positive work/life
balance. I intend to get married and have children within a few years of my
graduation. I will have to do my best to draw the line between work and my
home life. I will also devote myself to physical fitness and an active and
healthy lifestyle. An important aspect of my professional development will
include regular self-reflection and revisiting my professional development
plan and my progress towards my short and long term goals for my career.
Strategies for this may include keeping a journal and regular interactions
with friends and colleagues in my field that share a similar career trajectory.
We can rely on one another to stay on track with our plans and to counsel
each other in times of stress and uncertainty. Maintaining positive personal
relationships is a key to success and career satisfaction.


5 years



10 years