When you walk into the SPEA Student Services Office, the first face you’ll see likely is that of one of SPEA’s six student workers.
Jen Popiela, Monica Zachary, and Katie Boynton serve as SPEA’s student success assistants, answering student questions, scheduling advising appointments, and ensuring students are aware of the many services SPEA provides.
“When I first became a SPEA student, the front desk worker was the one who welcomed me into the school and made me feel comfortable,” says Zachary, a public safety management major. “I want to make other students feel the same way I did.”
That commitment to fellow students extends beyond the front office. Judith Atibil and Lauren French are experienced peer advisors, connecting SPEA students to their futures. Jessie Silguero is the newest member of their team.
“I wanted to be a student worker for SPEA because I wanted to be more involved in my school,” Silguero says. “This position allows me to make more connections and to give back by helping fellow students who are on the same path that I am.”
Peer advisors are upperclassmen SPEA majors who have been through extensive training to assist in guiding students toward the best resources for academic and professional readiness. One advantage peer advising provides to students is its flexibility and availability of the advisors.
“We can help students when they aren’t able to make an appointment with their academic advisors,” Atibil says. “We meet with students to go over academic plans and provide advice on what combination of classes they should take to work toward their degrees.”
SPEA provides walk-in peer advising for students in BS 3025 on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m., and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
While the students who serve SPEA staff and their fellow students all express a commitment to giving back to their university community, they say they gain as much as they give.
“Having this position with SPEA has allowed me to improve several tangible skills, such as organization, time management, and communication,” Boynton says. “These skills translate into my academic performance. I finished the Fall semester with my highest GPA yet, while balancing work, school, and an internship.”
Those skills also will serve students workers well as they begin their job search and eventually start their first career.
“SPEA has prepared me for a career in a professional setting,” Popiela says. “They have taught me how to write a solid cover letter and resume, give an elevator speech, deescalate tense situations, work with people from all backgrounds and manage my time. The skills I have learned here will help me where ever I go.”
Beyond learning skills and earning a paycheck, student workers say they also have made a lasting connection to SPEA, its staff, and to each other.
“It is a fantastic community and I feel like I am working with my family,” French says. “It is so empowering to gain the skills and knowledge that will not only help yourself be successful but allow you to be a mentor for others.”
Students interested in becoming a student employee for SPEA should contact Terry O’Brien at email@example.com for updates on available positions.
Meet SPEA’s Student Workers:
Judith Atibil is a SPEA peer advisor and public safety management major, slated to graduate in May 2019. Her mother immigrated to the United States from Ghana to pursue her master’s in political science. The family moved from Lafayette to Indianapolis when Judith was 4 years old as her mother enrolled in SPEA’s nonprofit management program. She initially considered following in her mother’s footsteps, but determined she had a greater interest in criminal justice and public safety.
- Why did you choose SPEA?
“One big reason I chose to come to SPEA was James Eckerty. He made SPEA seem fun and welcoming. He spoke to me like I was an adult. He even told me about this opportunity to work in SPEA. The rest is history!”
- How has working for SPEA helped you?
“Understanding what happens behind the curtains at SPEA helped me plan ahead when it came to my academic plan. It allowed me to ask questions I know I would not have asked had I not worked in SPEA, so I could plan for my degree in Public Safety Management, certificate in Public Affairs and – prior to February 2018 – a minor in Policy Studies. It also made me into a better version of myself in the classroom. Last October, I experienced a death in my family and I know had I not gained the skills I have from being a student worker, I would have fallen apart in the classroom.”
Katie Boynton is a student success assistant for SPEA, graduating in May 2020 with a degree in Organizational Leadership and Supervision, a Human Resources Management certificate and history minor. Originally from Carmel, Boynton started at IU Bloomington, but transferred to IUPUI to pursue a criminal justice degree before landing on OLS.
- What unique opportunities have you had because you work for SPEA student services?
“As a student employee, I’ve been able to attend certain events to represent the Student Services Team. Last semester, I was able to help with the Beyond the Badge 5k, Regatta, and Public Safety Career Day. I have also been able to establish solid professional relationships with the Student Services team.”
- What is it like to work with SPEA student services?
“The SPEA team is without a doubt one of the most academically and professionally supportive groups. I have been able to develop and improve many professional skills while feeling that my education comes first.”
Lauren French is a SPEA peer advisor and civic leadership major, graduating in December 2019. French is originally from Evansville, but says she fell in love with SPEA when she realized the school’s connection to her passion for nonprofits and community engagement. She says one of the biggest draws were the bountiful opportunities and many nonprofit organizations headquartered in Indianapolis.
- How has working for SPEA helped you academically?
“My position with SPEA has given me a greater community of peers and mentors. The mentoring and training I have received has enabled me to be self-sufficient in planning for my college career and even graduating early. I can now move ahead to pursue my master’s in nonprofit management.”
- What benefits have you seen from working for SPEA?
“I have found friendships and am always up to date on current networking events and opportunities, which comes in handy! I also joined the accelerated master’s program after learning about the program through SPEA.”
Jen Popiela is the lead student success assistant and is majoring in public safety management. She’s slated to graduate in May with a full-time job working in IMPD’s property room. She hopes to stay with the department and join IMPD as a sworn officer in December.
- Why did you want to become a SPEA student worker?
“SPEA provided an amazing opportunity with a great work environment. It was a good paying part-time job that would work with my class schedule while offering the chance for immense personal and professional development.”
- Why should other students consider working for SPEA?
“Working for SPEA has been an amazing experience! It is a family atmosphere; everyone here truly cares about the student employees. At the same time, I have been challenged to improve myself on a professional, academic, and personal level. SPEA wants their students to succeed and do everything in their power to meet this goal.”
Jessie Silguero is a peer advisor and criminal justice major, graduating in 2020. Jessie was born and raised in Indianapolis and knew that IUPUI was his home campus. He wanted to make a difference by serving his community in law enforcement and says he knew SPEA was the best option to make that dream a reality.
- How does your position with SPEA help you fulfil your commitment to service?
“I’m able to help fellow students build their upcoming schedules and deal with any problems or concerns they have about their upcoming semester. Through our training, I’m able to guide them on what classes they need to take to pursue their degrees.”
- As the newest member of the team, what has your experience working for SPEA been like thus far?
“Working for SPEA is a great experience. Everybody is very nice and caring. The work is great and gives you an insight of what opportunities are offered through SPEA.”
Monica Zachary is a student success assistant and public safety management major, graduating in December of 2019. She grew up in Jasper, Indiana, and initially came to IUPUI for the forensics program. She later realized she had a greater interest in homeland security. She says SPEA is a better fit for her and has given her a lot of opportunities, including an internship with the IMPD.
- What would you tell other students interested in working for SPEA?
“Working for SPEA will introduce you to a lot of people and allow you to network with many professors. This position opens your eyes to opportunities you may have never thought you would be a part of.”
- What opportunities have you found because of the work you do for SPEA?
“I have become more involved in my school and have experienced things that I would not have had I not been a student worker. Working the front desk, I’m exposed to more academic and internship opportunities. While this information is available to all SPEA students, I can access the information more quickly when I am working the front desk.”