Shaping the student experience
by Catalina Myers |
For the last four years, Allie Hartman, student organization coordinator in Student Life and Leadership, has poured her energy into enhancing the student experience at UAA. Her efforts in creating connections — especially during a global pandemic — earned her high praise from both colleagues and students. Most recently, she was recognized by the University of Alaska Board of Regents with a Staff Make Students Count award.
“I love doing the work that I do because I get to see students grow and make connections across all their different experiences in and out of the classroom,” said Hartman. “Ultimately, there's just nothing better than seeing a student graduate and go on to do amazing things. It's the best feeling in the world.”
Hartman, a Denver, Colorado transplant, moved to Alaska four years ago with her husband. She began her UAA career providing support to student media organizations The Northern Light and KRUA-FM before landing her current role two years ago. Over the last four years, she’s seen the university undergo significant changes and knows the challenges students have been faced with, which is why she is so passionate about creating space for student voices.
As a graduate from the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver), the sister school of the flagship campus in Boulder, Hartman understands the university experience of the commuter student and how important it is for their voices to be heard and needs to be met. Although thousands of miles separate the two universities, their similarities are greater than their degree of separation. Both campuses, she said, are located in the heart of sprawling urban cities with a sizable nontraditional student population. She feels uniquely qualified to provide outstanding service to UAA students and convey the importance and value of the commuter student experience to university leadership.
According to Hartman, the past year upped the ante as university staff and faculty were faced with the challenge of providing students an optimal educational experience during a global pandemic. It was a challenge she accepted with enthusiasm, which in the end, paid off in dividends of student engagement and a sense of community within the student body.
As a young professional, Hartman said creating virtual spaces through technology and social media was something she was already excited about. The pandemic ended up being the perfect catalyst to put her ideas into motion.
“The pandemic created a situation where the campus community wasn't accessible and kind of illuminated the ways that we weren't accessible to students already as a campus community,” said Hartman. “Commuter students can't be on campus all the time, and the pandemic created a movement to carve out a community for students and develop an online community.”
Hartman enhanced Student Life and Leadership’s social media presence through their Instagram and Facebook pages uaalife. She found it was a surprisingly helpful tool in not only communicating important information but also served as a sounding board for students to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences while navigating a challenging and uncertain school year.
“It was an accessible way for us to put students at the forefront and to let students share their stories,” said Hartman. “Over the course of a year, we saw some really great engagement with students, making connections to one another in online spaces.”
In addition to growing Student Life and Leadership’s social media presence and engagement, Hartman harnessed the power of the student community. She implemented “Takeover Tuesdays,” where each week a student or students highlight a student club, including club leaders, student employees, leaders from the fraternity and sorority communities, athletes and students who identify and represent the diverse cultures at UAA.
Hartman also advocated for student clubs by adjusting club registration requirements to ensure student clubs met university criteria to operate with less membership. She also worked to ensure university policy decisions are student-centered, particularly endeavoring essential changes to student payment and fundraising policies.
Hartman also championed UAAVotes, a core program run out of Student Life and Leadership, and created civic engagement opportunities for students and the community through partnerships with The Alaska Center Education Fund, Native Peoples' Action and the Campus Election Engagement Project. She also helped facilitate a virtual series with Seawolf Debate and the Anchorage Daily News regarding ballot measures in Alaska. She also conducted voter training sessions to prepare students for voting in both the fall presidential and local spring mayoral elections.
“I’m so honored to have received this award,” said Hartman. She admits it’s been a hectic year, and at times, working from home, it’s been hard to find work and life balance, but she is proud of her work with the Student Life and Leadership team over the past 18 months. She is excited to return to campus this fall and continue working with the student clubs, fraternities, sororities and commuter students she advocates for daily. “I think as we return to campus, we all need to listen to what students are saying and shape the Seawolf experience not only for our current students but our potential students as well.”