Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Privilege of Sharing Students’ Lives

By Heather Shaffer

Even though she has lived in Springfield for most of her life, Mae Noll isn’t biased in favor of UIS just because it is located in the city. Mae genuinely loves the people, the opportunities, and the atmosphere on campus.

As resident director of Lincoln Residence Hall, Mae’s responsibilities include supervising the resident assistants and desk staff in the building, planning RA training, participating in preview and summer orientation programs, responding to emergency and crisis situations, and handling student disciplinary situations. It’s a time-consuming job, but Mae said she has had a lot of fun doing it.

Describing her position as “energy giving,” she said, “Getting to know the students by living and working with them daily and nightly is incredibly rewarding. Students share their concerns as well as little everyday joys with me, and that is a privilege.”

Mae’s family has lived in Springfield for generations so coming to work at UIS was like coming home. She said she learned many of the skills she uses in her position – activity planning, teamwork, organizing, and listening – as a member of the Student Council at Springfield High. Following in the footsteps of many family members, Mae attended Illinois College in Jacksonville, then went to the University of Illinois at Chicago where she did graduate studies in higher education administration/college student personnel services. After graduation from UIC, Mae worked for two years in student affairs at Springfield College in Illinois before coming to UIS in 1999 when she enrolled in the Teacher Education Program.

She said she was instantly attracted to what was happening on campus, especially with the Housing Office staff, so she started working as an intern in the Housing Office under then-Housing Director Jim Korte (now assistant dean of students). One of Mae’s first responsibilities there was to help with the Y2K Emergency Response/Readiness Plan; she still has a copy of that and jokes about selling it on eBay.

In 2001 the first class of Capital Scholars came to UIS and Mae was chosen as their resident director. “We’ve learned a lot since we opened LRH in August 2001 to the first class of Capital Scholars, and we are still learning every year. I have a top-notch student staff, and that makes a huge difference; our custodial and maintenance staffs are also skilled and have great attitudes. We work closely and well with the Capital Scholars office. That kind of support makes my job a lot better. I feel like I face challenges with a caring, reliable team,” she said.

Mae said she has many favorite things at UIS, but first and foremost she enjoys the people. “I know I am blessed to work with people who are smart, interesting, hard working, honest, sincere, and dedicated to our students. The students are great to work with too, and I enjoy them very much. I've found that most of them truly want to succeed, have many talents, and care about their education and their university,” she said.

Mae said that the resources available to members of the campus community are also outstanding. Speakers, classes, Star Parties, films, a wide variety of student activities, Sangamon Auditorium performances, Mac and PC computer labs with helpful and patient lab assistants, Capital Perks, athletic competitions – all of these are resources that Mae takes advantage of regularly. She also sees many positive ways that UIS is engaging with the Springfield community. “I believe that UIS has positively impacted our community and that impact will continue and will grow more profound in the years ahead,” she said.

After just four years, Mae already has a store of fond memories of living and working with students in LRH. One of her favorite moments occurred in 2001 when all of the procedures in LRH were still brand new: The building’s first fire drill took place at 3 a.m., causing the desk attendant to shout into the intercom “Fire! Fire! Run…a fire!” Mae subsequently reassured everyone that it was only a drill, but it taught the housing staff that they needed to prepare a script for emergency situations because when panic sets in, it may be hard to know exactly what to say.

Some of Mae’s other favorite memories include visits by her nieces Abby, now 4, and Katie Mae, now 2, as well as many of the student-initiated programs that have taken place in or near LRH. Mae said she especially treasures those moments because she was able to see memories being made and friendships being formed.

This summer, I am interested in learning about other people's experiences at UIS. If you’d like to share your campus experiences, please e-mail me at hshaf01s@uis.edu.

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