A Day in the Life of …




Susan Ashe

Associate Director of Recreation, Programs, and Marketing
California State Polytechnic University 
Pomona, Calif.

Educational background:

Indiana University 
M.S.Ed., Higher Education and Student Affairs 

Years in the profession: 6


What have you learned from the profession?

I have learned that there are a thousand opportunities to contribute to student success, but that there aren't enough hours in the day sometimes. I have learned that when a student walks into my office, I need to turn away from my computer, look them in the eye, and listen to what they are saying. I have learned that student affairs professionals are passionate and giving. They are passionate about student success and making the university a meaningful place. I have learned that there is no better profession for me than higher education and student affairs.

What inspires, motivates, or gets you excited about your job on a daily basis?

I am lucky to have my fingers in many different student affairs pies. Every day is a new adventure because of the variety of my projects. For example, I am currently developing learning outcomes for student staff in the Division of Student Affairs, providing leadership on Associated Students, Inc.'s (ASI) strategic planning efforts, serving on the ACUI Anaheim conference planning team, and guiding ASI's marketing and programming efforts. I chose to enter the field of higher education and student affairs because I was inspired and influenced by my Director of Student Activities. The one-on-one advising I do with the students gets me excited. They are always coming up with fresh, new, and crazy ideas and their energy level is infectious. Since I have been in the field, I have become passionate about projects that contribute to leadership development and improve the quality of the university and of student affairs. It's exciting that I get to satisfy my passions for higher education by working on such a variety of projects. 

How did you arrive at your present job?

During my time as a graduate student at Indiana University, I spent the summer working for Associated Student, Inc. (ASI) at Cal Poly Pomona as the Summer Orientation Intern. I enjoyed the diversity of the university and I kept my eye on openings. A year after receiving my Master's, the Lead Program Development Coordinator position opened at Cal Poly Pomona and I was hired. I have been with ASI for just over three years. During that time I have had the opportunity to work in many different capacities due to internal turn-over and organizational growth. I have served as the Administrator-in-Charge (Interim Director) of the Recreation, Programs, and Marketing (RPM) department and I currently serve as the associate director of RPM.

Paper Clips



A Typical Day for Susan


7 a.m.

Alarm rings. NPR wakes me up with news of more economic turmoil and Obama's latest Cabinet appointment. I hit the shower and start the day.

7:30 a.m.

I turn on my cell phone and check e-mails (nothing pressing - hooray!). I eat breakfast and catch the weather on the Today Show. It's going to be surprisingly chilly by LA standards.

8 a.m.

I start my drive from Pasadena to Pomona in my Prius. I listen to NPR and make some calls (hands free, of course).

8:30 a.m.

I arrive at campus. I'm the first in the office today. I fire up the computer.

9 a.m.

I answer e-mails and check voicemails. I look at the steno pad that holds my to-do list. The office staff arrives and we catch up and make jokes. There is a coffee run. I opt out to get my head together before a day of meetings and projects to cross off my to-do list.

Students drop by with questions. … A programming student wants to know if a signed band contract has been faxed yet; a graphic design student staff wants my thoughts on ASI's website redesign.

9:30 a.m.

I attend the Student Affairs The Leadership Group (TLG) staff meeting. The meeting lasts until 11 a.m. Topics covered include area spotlights from Orientation Services and Judicial Affairs, First Year enrollment projections through 2014, Veterans Affairs initiatives, and a summary of statistics about programming events held in 2007–08.

11 a.m.

I return from the Student Affairs TLG meeting and put notes in my Recreation, Programs and Marketing (RPM) department binder. I will recap important information for my staff at our first meeting in 2009. I receive text from Saad, the president of the programming board. We volley a few texts and set the date for the programming board's mini-retreat in January.

11:30 a.m.

I connect with M-L, an RPM staff member who attended a webinar about veterans programs while I was in the Student Affairs meeting. We exchange notes since we both were in meetings that covered the topic.


I sign RPM holiday cards and catch up with RPM full-time and student staff while eating my usual Subway sandwich lunch. I receive an IM from a friend to have dinner before I leave town for the holiday. I sign check requests, purchase orders, and approve work request quotes. I did not get sandwich crumbs or chip smudges on any paperwork!

12:30 p.m.

I  hunt down surveys filled out by Associate Students, Inc (ASI) student staff in September. I suspect the surveys will have excellent information that can help me as I begin developing student staff learning outcomes for ASI and the Division of Student Affairs.

1 p.m.

I prep for my 1:30 pm. meeting. I finish the agenda, copy handouts, and find my student co-chair so we can arrive early for our meeting.

1:30 p.m.

I attend the ASI Strategic Planning, Marketing, and Communication task team meeting. The meeting lasts until 3 p.m. I am chairing the task team with a student government co-chair. We are one of six task teams and our task team is meeting for the first time. Our job is to look at ASI's marketing and communication efforts as we build ASI's five-year strategic plan. We discuss the background of ASI's strategic planning efforts, the purpose of our task team, and we begin brainstorming a list of strategic questions we hope to answer in the coming months.

2:50 p.m.

I end the meeting a little early to show the task team that their time is respected. The meeting was very productive. They generated a healthy list of questions and we will meet in 2009 to continue our progress.

3 p.m.

I head back to my office to call a potential presenter for the ACUI annual conference. I am developing the schedule for the Mid-Level Managers Professional Program. Our phone appointment is at 3 p.m. I leave a message and check my e-mail while I wait for a return call. No call comes. I will follow up tomorrow if I don't receive a message by the day's end.

I found the ASI student staff surveys! Andrea, the RPM office assistant, kindly copies the surveys so we can return the originals to their hiding place.

3:30 p.m.

I meet with Alfred, a staff member in ASI's marketing office. Alfred updates me about the stories his students are writing for our January newspaper insert. While I am in the marketing office, a few student staff snag me and ask my opinion about poster designs they are developing and confirm deadlines for their proejcts.

4 p.m.

Barny, the new director of RPM, and I catch up and discuss the ASI and RPM budget. I explain the approval of various line items and we begin to strategize our requests for 2009–10.

5 p.m.

I meet with Kenny, a staff member in ASI’s marketing office, about a marketing project his students plan to execute in 2009. It’s a cutting-edge video game called ARG (alternate reality game). Even though I’m 33, I’m not what one would call “tech savvy.” Kenny explains the progress his students are making and I ask questions and give feedback from an administrator’s point of view. 

**This is a common type of meeting I have with staff members and students. … I act as the go-between before the program goes public. I have the unique opportunity in my position to have students/staff casually explain ideas to me and then I help them understand the roadblocks they may encounter and I help them navigate the waters.

6 p.m.

Back to my office. Everyone is leaving, but I choose to stay. I will be leaving for the holiday on Thursday and I want to wrap up loose ends before my brain becomes holiday mush. I check e-mail, voicemail, and my inbox. There is no call from the potential ACUI presenters so I add that to my to-do list for tomorrow. I send a follow-up e-mail to the strategic planning task team with meeting notes and times for upcoming meetings. I begin to respond to e-mails that have piled up, which leads to looking through files for information... which leads to looking up information online... which leads to more e-mails... and so on...

7:30 p.m.

Dang! Where did the time go? I notice that it's 7:30 p.m. I should get home to make dinner or water plants or work on my social life. I shut down the computer and head out.

As I walk by the marketing office, I notice the lights are still on. Kenny and some student staff are working on the ARG video game story. I stay and chat a while and then tell them to pack it up and head out.

8 p.m.

Okay... I'm really leaving now.


Updated March 19, 2009