Meghan Walde, one of the new Campus Life Coordinators who was hired over the summer, sat down with the Catalyst and opened up about what it was like growing up in a small farming town known for apples. Walde, who is now a Goldstein resident, also shared her thoughts on New College so far.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Biglerville, PA, which is near Gettysburg. It was out in the middle of nowhere so we only had one channel and didn’t get internet until I was 17 so we were outside quite a bit. It’s a really small farmer’s town known for apple orchards. My high school mascot was a canner-man because our town canned so many apples. We would have this four day long festival in the spring and in the fall and there would be apple pancakes, apple this, apple that, apple everything.
Did you play sports as a kid?
Yeah I was into sports a lot as a kid. I played soccer, field hockey, basketball and softball. Basketball was my favorite and that’s what I was most involved in.
What was your first job?
I worked at an ice cream stand when I was 14 and then after that I had a ton of different jobs mostly in food service. I served and did bartending all throughout college, that’s how I paid for my undergrad. I really enjoyed bartending. I learned a lot. About people, myself, communicating; it was different every day.
Where did you go to college?
I went to Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).
What did you study?
Child and family studies. I went so many different routes. I was in education and family consumer science and then I was going to teach. I was focused on child development and I always knew I wanted to work with students in some way. But then I realized I wanted to go to grad school right after so I had to change my major to something that I could graduate with in four years so that I could start the program on time. I got my Master’s in student affairs in higher education.
How did you come to the conclusion that you wanted to work in Res Life?
I was an RA as an undergrad and was involved in orientation. I knew I wanted to work with students and I loved high school students but I also knew I loved the college environment. So I went to the career development center and talked to an individual who was in the grad program I ended up doing.
What was your favorite part of college?
The exploration piece of being on my own and having that independence. I went through all the transitions of finding myself. Looking back as someone who studied all of the development stage models I see myself going through all of those stages and it’s really funny. I had a lot of fun, I met a lot of people and was really involved and that’s why I’m where I am now. I love higher education.
How do you like living on campus as a staff member?
I really enjoy it. I like company and I like being in a community environment. It makes me feel like I’m home and safe. I really like the college environment.
What’s your impression of New College so far?
I like it. I think it’s very unique and individualistic. The students are very passionate which I like because I’m a very passionate person myself. It’s exciting. I like that all of the students live on campus so I’m able to interact with a lot more students especially since the population is so small.
When did you start working here?
My first day was June 1. I was finishing up helping IUP with their orientation as a hall director until the day I came here. It was hectic but awesome.
What is your position?
Campus Life Coordinator for Residential Life and Housing Operations. I deal with any housing issues, needs, and concerns. Room assignments, keys, furniture, room changes, all that. I’m also going to be overseeing judicials this year, which I love. I did an internship in judicial work and I feel like it’s an area where I’m able to bring in a lot of the theoretical stuff that I learned an make it a learning experience. I’m going to be doing the training for community board soon.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I have a couple favorites because this is what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s a mix of facilities which I think is really really important. They have such a huge impact on students and so I love that I get to be a liaison between student affairs and facilities. And I also love doing the judicial work and working with the RAs.
Are there any unique challenges to your position here?
Well I think with every challenge there’s an opportunity to make it something positive. Especially being a young professional it’s really exciting to get to have a role in so many things. Some people might view that as a negative and say “well I wear so many hats,” but I really love that I get to do so many different things. I’m trying to get as much experience as I can and learn a lot from it.
What do you do on your spare time?
I work out a lot. It’s a stress reliever for me, so I’ll usually do at least one physical activity every day. I’ve also been traveling a lot since this is the first time I’ve had to really travel to see family. I love eating and trying new foods also, eating is like my favorite thing to do.
What’s your favorite place you’ve ever lived?
Here, by far. I love the warm weather, I love the water, I love the area. Everyone just seems to be in a happier place, with the palm trees and the heat. Also it was always on my bucket list to live in the south. I knew I wanted to move to the south after I graduated and it all worked out, and I love the area, I couldn’t be happier, I can just walk over and see the sunset every night.
What would you want students to know about you?
That I love what I do and that I’m here for all of the right reasons. I want to learn as much from here as I want to teach.