Puja Thapa / Administrative Executive Editor

“I think it’s the piece where I know what I’m doing matters and I know what I’m doing for my staff matters. I know what I’m doing for students matters because I have seen it make a difference,” said Director of Campus Life Jennifer Ferrell.

Ferrell started working at Keene State College in 2005. “This is my fifteenth academic year,” said Ferrell. “I came in the summer of 2005 and, at that time, things were organized differently here and in the division and in my department.” Ferrell started  as the coordinator of student activities,  later  becoming the director of campus life.

Ferrell has taken on more responsibilities than her title entails. She said, “I have added more responsibilities to it, but my title is still the same at this point.” The separation incentive in February 2018 and different staff leaving for different opportunities have made Ferrell pick up different other responsibilities. “Being down staff, I see it as it’s my responsibility as a leader to ensure that things continue to happen and the student experience is minimally affected when we have gaps and things,” she said. “That’s why I have no problem stepping in, trying to pick up and help out.”

Some of the responsibilities that Ferrell has are overseeing the L.P. Young Student Center, the professional staff, student involvement programs and the student center budget. She said, “We operate like a satellite business office here. Basically, you do so many different transactions.”

Ferrell has also taken on some additional responsibilities in the past couple of years: she oversees the dining contract and works closely with the whole management team for dining and vending contracts on campus, and she recently dealt with the beverage service contact with Pepsi. Ferrell also directly advises the student government. She attends the student assembly meeting every Tuesday, finance committee meetings and other executive meetings.

Senior Program Support Assistant Janet Stevenson said, “Watching her continue to push through even though there are days when she’s exhausted is inspiring.” Stevenson is one of the staff who works under Ferrell. Stevenson added, “We all have days when we just don’t want to come in to work, but she does it everyday, she works when she is physically not here.”

Like other staff who have left KSC, Ferrell has also gotten better offers and opportunities. However, she chose to stay at KSC. “I really want to be able to stick around to see us get to a good place with things. I just feel like there are probably more things to be done that I’m still valuable in that process,” Ferrell said. “I certainly wouldn’t have stayed here as long as I have if I didn’t really love our students…  there is something about our student culture that I really love.”

Though Ferrell said she thinks that the position of her last supervisor of Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs would be appropriate for what she is doing right now, she’s okay with what she is doing. “I’m just trying to get us to the best place and work through some of the transition and get all of the right people in the right structure because we are at a time now, especially at the student center where we  have to redesign everybody’s work anyway through lost people, and as things have changed and what we’re doing, and finances have changed, it’s pretty open right now and we have  a lot of opportunity for the future.”

Describing herself, Ferrell said, “I am not someone who’s afraid of change, I’m not someone who is scared to do hard things, so those kind of things excite me a  little bit and keep me interested.” She added, “ If everything was the same as it was years ago, that wouldn’t be interesting for me at all.”

Ferrell thinks that her career has impacted her personal life. “I need to do a better job of balancing my personal life and my professional life. I need to do that to show students that it should be done, but I need to take better care of myself.” However, she also said that a lot of that is self-chosen. “[It has] made me better at my job by all of the things I have been involved in and by as much time I have invested in it, made me understand campus better, made me understand the dynamics of work and how to interact with people better,” Ferrell said.

Stevenson, who works under Ferrell, said, “She’s probably the nicest boss I have ever had. Jen’s tough, but she understands people and that makes a huge difference.”

Ferrell said, “It’s like that thing where you want everybody rowing the boat in the same direction; that’s kind of where I am. In order to make sure that everybody knows that’s the direction, I try really hard to make sure they are valued in that, they know their part in that and, for me, they are people, so knowing that life happens, and stuff happens and you need to be understandable.”

Stevenson said, “While I grumble every time my alarm goes off, I like coming to work here.” She said she has had good two years at KSC so far. “I can’t imagine working for or with anybody outside the group because we’re a team. We work as a team, “ she said. “Yes, Jen’s my boss, but yesterday at the celebration [Winter Celebration on Dec.4] we are standing next to each other eating cotton candy and stuff is falling all over the place.”

Ferrell said, “I feel like if professional staff don’t feel valued or don’t feel appreciated, and don’t feel like they have the ability to make an impact and change lives, then it’s pointless for me to be here.”

Student Body President Davis Bernstein worked with Ferrell closely this semester after a change in his position from the speaker of the assembly to the president. He said, “[Ferrell] has a lot on her plate, but she always responds to my email or my texts and always gets anything done that student government needs help with.” He said that she always seemed happy to help, even when she is extremely busy with other stuff.

Ferrell said she feels appreciated by most people. “[Appreciated] by students, absolutely. I think [I’m also appreciated] by my specific team and the people who I work with regularly”

Bernstein described Ferrell as a hardworking, strong leader who is passionate about the school and has been here for a  long time.

Ferrell said, “I am certainly not looking to do any of the things I do for any kind of praise. I am not even certain that all the folks even understand all the different things that are happening.” She added, “In the last couple of years, it has gotten to be more and more and more, and it’s starting to get harder to feel as appreciated as I once did.” She further added that she knows that the people who matter and interact frequently with her appreciate her.

Bernstein said that Ferrell recently shared a quote to the student leaders the other day which stated: “Being a leader is like a privilege, not a burden.”’ Ferrell encourages students to move up in the student government to new roles, according to Bernstein.

He further said, “I feel like if you haven’t met Jen ferrell, you haven’t been in school enough. I feel like almost everybody knows her, and she knows everybody.”

 

Puja Thapa can be contacted at

pthapa@kscequinox.com