Acting on opportunities
Janna Bernstein, the first Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) Undergraduate Fellow at USC, is a trendsetter.
“Now we have four fellows,” she said. “NASPA is our national organization for student affairs, and [USC Vice President for Student Affairs] Dr. [Michael L.] Jackson was president of NASPA a few years ago. So USC is a very NASPA-oriented school.”
A Los Angeles native, Bernstein arrived at USC as an undergraduate psychology major with a minor in Judaic studies. She promptly became involved in the Division of Student Affairs, serving as a mediator for Student Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.
Bernstein dedicated countless hours to residential education as a resident adviser (R.A.) on the Shalom Floor in Parkside Apartments, a student worker in the Parkside Customer Service Center, a housing liaison at the Parkside Residential College and a member of the Director’s Advisory Guild. She also taught “The Process of Paraprofessional Counseling for Young Adults,” a required course offered for advisers by the USC Rossier School of Education.
As a member of the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program (NUFP), she was paired with mentor Matthew Nelson, who was serving as assistant director of Parkside International Residential College at the time. They had weekly discussions about her career goals and experiences.
As the recipient of NASPA’s Sodexo Scholarship, she traveled to Philadelphia to attend the 2011 NASPA annual conference.
She graduated magna cum laude, received the Order of Troy award for outstanding service to Student Affairs and was named a Renaissance Scholar for pursuing a major and a minor in widely separated fields of study.
After earning her bachelor’s degree, she attended the NUFP Summer Leadership Institute Conference held at the University of Connecticut. The four days of workshops focused on skill building, career development and networking.
“I had never been to the East Coast before NASPA, so it was a great opportunity,” she said. “Now I have friends at all the other institutions, in Indiana and Vermont and everywhere. It’s great because it builds that network.”
Now a master’s student in the Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs program at USC Rossier, Bernstein is continuing her involvement with NASPA. She serves as a NASPA graduate associate, recruiting other USC students to apply for NUFP and collaborating with counterparts from other schools.
“The Graduate Associate Program [GAP] is a new pilot program created by NASPA to increase opportunities for graduate students,” said Elizabeth Trayner, former assistant director for staff development and diversity for USC Residential Education. “In this role, Janna has taken it upon herself to mentor the current NUFP fellows at USC as a recent alumna of the program.”
And that’s only the beginning of Bernstein’s dedication to Student Affairs. During the 2011-2012 academic year, she served as assistant residence coordinator and building government adviser for USC’s Troy Complex. She continues to serve the complex as summer residence coordinator and building government adviser. During the 2012-2013 academic year, she’ll work as residence coordinator for the university’s New Residential College.
Bernstein has served in the USC Graduate Student Government as an academic advising intern for the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and as a student ambassador for USC Rossier’s Office of Recruitment and Admissions. She’s also doing fieldwork in the career services office at Mount St. Mary’s College.
“I know my passion in general is Student Affairs, so I’m just trying to see which aspect of that I can fall into,” she said. “There’s so much going on, but it’s fun. I’m someone who always needs to keep myself busy with different opportunities.”