Passionate Leader in Student Affairs
Journey to Student Affairs: Bonner as a Catalyst
Like many undergraduates, Debbie Deas came into college thinking that she knew what she wanted to pursue as a career. This quickly changed as she delved deeper into service and began committing more hours to the Bonner Program. Through her experiences in the classroom and community, guidance of her mentor, and wisdom from her mother, Debbie found her passion was for a different career than she had previously envisioned.
Starting Off College
Growing up, Debbie had always dreamed of being a lawyer. Therefore, it was no surprise that Debbie began at Wofford as a Government major. She immersed herself in government courses and completed a law internship, but realized that law may not be the right fit. Instead of feeling discouraged, she actively sought other experiences that would allow her to explore her real passions. Debbie took classes in other disciplines and picked up a new major. She even studied abroad to discover new interests. Nevertheless, she soon realized that she had been pursuing a passion all along: Bonner.
Time as a Bonner Scholar
As a student, Debbie was extremely enthusiastic about the Bonner Program. She would consistently go above and beyond at her site, realizing that students should try to connect their major and interests with the service that they are doing. Without realizing it, Debbie was already demonstrating an interest and skillset in student affairs: encouraging student development and integration of student experiences. The moment that brought it all together occurred at Bonner Congress.
While attending this national gathering, Debbie interacted with Bonner Scholars and Leaders from many other colleges and learned that, “Other people are doing the same type of work that I am, but everyone is doing it differently.”
This experience gave her a greater appreciation for the Bonner Network and the motivation to contribute her strengths and talents to it.
The Path to Student Affairs
Debbie’s passion and excitement for the Bonner Program prompted her mentors to encourage her to apply for a Bonner Coordinator position at Wofford. She was torn between two potential post-graduate options: the Bonner Coordinator position and an AmeriCorps member position. As she weighed these two options, she sought advice from a number of mentors in her life, including her mom.
“My mom told me that I could take the position with AmeriCorps, but I would continue to do the same type of service I was already doing. [As Bonner coordinator], I could impact forty students who can go on to impact more people.”
These words of wisdom from her mom were pivotal in motivating her to apply for and eventually take the Bonner Coordinator position, where she oversaw seventy students.
Advice for Students
After landing the Bonner Coordinator position, Debbie pursued a Master’s Degree in Student Affairs. She has continued to work in the field of higher education. Now, she serves as the Associate Director of Student Services at the University of California-Washington Center. Debbie loves working with and for students, but she did not discover her passion until after learning about some careers that she did not want to pursue. She encourages current students to not shy away from trying new things because it is an opportunity to find out what you actually enjoy. She suggests students check out study abroad programs as well. If you never try new things, she quips, you may never unexpectedly discover your new passion.
To learn more about Debbie, you can reach out to her on LinkedIn:
Written by Aleah Qureshi, Bonner Alumna of Wofford College ’18
Read Debbie's Job Profile here
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