Student Affairs Professionals

Meet Dr. Joya Crear, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs

Dr. Joya Crear What drew you into Student Affairs work?

Honestly, it was the students themselves and the energy of a college campus.  I pursued a terminal degree in Counseling Psychology with the idea to work in the community. After a practicum experience at a college counseling center I realized that a college campus operates similar to a community – and I was hooked.  My work in a college counseling center setting, located in Student Affairs, was very meaningful and rewarding. However, I wanted a more well-rounded experience working with students through all kinds of life transitions, not just problems. I wanted to have a role that would allow me to be more creative and interact with students in a more flexible position.  I made the difficult decision to leave counseling to pursue something in the area of youth development and diversity education.  Long story short, my passion in multicultural education drew me towards diversity and I was hired as the Director of Diversity Programs and Services at George Mason University.

What was your first position in Student Affairs?

My first position was as a practicum student in graduate school at Penn State with Center for Education, Diagnosis and Remediation, or CEDAR Clinic, serves as both a counseling center for undergraduate students and a training center for master’s and doctoral students enrolled in Penn State’s Counseling Psychology Program. While I had seen clients in other settings for years this was the first time I had worked with college students. It was this experience where I realized that I enjoyed working with students in counseling on a wide range complex of issues and concerns. Later at Penn State I had the opportunity to facilitate workshops as well which focuses more on education and prevention. After these experienced I realized that I wanted to work in higher education.

Fortunately, most Counseling Centers are within the Division of Student Affairs so the opportunities for collaboration are endless.

What is a memorable challenge you encountered in your career?

I would say my decision to leave counseling as a profession. I had the goal of being a practicing psychologist since high school so to leave this professional identity was somewhat challenging.  My professional network and mentors were all in that arena. The support I received outside of my family was luke-warm through the transition. Many friends and colleagues had a hard time thinking of me as being anything other than a counselor. This also made it hard to find a job for a while.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my second career in Student Affairs in the area of diversity and inclusion. These topics have been constant since graduate school, so it made for a good fit for me.

What’s the last show you binge-watched?

BBC Network’s Shetland which takes place in Scotland

I also binge-listened to Up and Vanished – a podcast

What’s been your favorite part about Milwaukee so far?

Purple Door Ice Cream and all the friendly colleagues I’ve met.

What do you do to unwind and have fun?

I love movies and Zumba.  I have also gotten into hand quilting in the past year so I’m trying to learn via YouTube.

What advice would you give to newer student affairs practitioners?

Embrace being new in the profession. Your creativity, knowledge and energy is needed by the profession and students. The things I’ve enjoyed about Student Affairs are the flexibility and opportunities to grow. The skills and experiences I’ve had in my career have shaped and prepared me for today (I hope :).  The position/career I pursued right after graduate school is not where I am now. The experiences I had interacting and collaborating with professional students, collaborating with colleagues helped me refine my career choice. I’m a Stephen Covey fan and he says, ‘Begin with the end in mind’ when tackling a task or project. I’d add, be aware that the end may move.    

What advice would you give to Marquette students?

My advice to Marquette students is to get enjoy the experience.  It will be both rewarding and challenging. Perfection should not be the end goal, rather learning about your path and passion in life would be a better target to aim for while at Marquette.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

In light of recent events in Charlottesville, VA I have a few thoughts to share. As I reflect on my years in Virginia, I’d like the community to know that Charlottesville was only the location for incivility. It could have been Anywhere, US. I was stunned to see what started as civil protests and counter-protests turn into a display of violence, intolerance and racism. It was a costly reminder that we all need to remain steadfast, vigilant and “woke” in our commitment towards social justice and equity. I am honored that I have the opportunity to contribute personally and professionally towards this commitment.