By Hunter Kulik
The LSJ Department enthusiastically welcomed Kat Eli as the new Academic Services Manager during Winter Quarter. Kat joins the office with an extremely diverse background; her experience spans across the country and beyond.
Kat was born in Texas and completed high school in Pennsylvania, which included a year spent abroad in Germany. Kat then attended college just outside of Cleveland, Ohio at Baldwin-Wallace College, now known as Baldwin Wallace University. From there, she went on to get her Masters in College Student Personnel at Bowling Green State University.
It was at Bowling Green State University that Kat worked in residential life as well as fraternity and sorority life. As the Resident Director of Fraternity Circle, Kat found herself having to implement leadership and management strategies, much of which stemmed from building relationships with members of the community. “I think the foundation of my work is always relationship building, because that is how the world goes round. Working with people in different capacities pushes me to thrive and is something that I really enjoy,” Kat says.
During graduate school, Kat spent time in Alaska where she worked at the University of Alaska in Anchorage. Here she worked in several capacities, from helping students through mental health crises to wildlife training, which was very present on campus. “I found a really strong community, and a sense of looking out for one another that I really take with me,” Kat says.
Kat then moved on to working as the Resident Director at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. She developed curriculum for several on campus living learning communities including the Hong International Hall which involved international and cultural identities. Kat also worked with the Women, Gender & Equity, and Empowerment Building as well as the Hinderlie Community for Creative Arts. Additionally, she served as the Assistant Director for Student Involvement and Leadership at PLU. She oversaw clubs and organizations, student government, the student activities board, and the new student orientation. “It was a lot of work but incredibly fulfilling to contribute to the development of so many student identities.”
Kat’s last stop before her career at University of Washington was at Seattle Vocational Institute. Kat worked with many students from marginalized backgrounds who were studying technical programs and certificates. “I had a lot of real and raw conversations. It was really eye-opening to transition from mainly a private liberal arts background to a drastically different population where the main focus was ensuring there was adequate care and support more than anything else. Being able to analyze access to resources and how to remove barriers for students was something extremely important that I take away from this experience.”
Since her time at University of Washington, Kat has worked both within the Foster School of Business as an academic counselor, and the College of Engineering, where she guided students to identify what area of impact to focus on within engineering.
Then, the LSJ Academic Services Manager opening came along. ”After being in the field for about 10 years now, I was ready for the next step. I wanted to take on more responsibility, look at things from a birds eye view, and do more behind the scenes work.” The LSJ Department was particularly appealing because it allowed Kat to return to her liberal arts roots while being in a field that incorporates a diverse range of perspectives and approaches. Kat says, “the advocacy, the engagement, and the passion creates such a tight community that is not only inspiring but really fits my values.”
Outside her career, Kat has a partner who also works within the UW community, and is a dedicated mother of two-year old twin girls. “I think becoming a parent also pushed me to want to take on more of a leadership role,” Kat shares. Some things special to Kat are essential oils, coloring, and journaling. She values making a space for feelings and being authentic and honest. “I am a huge proponent of being open and talking it out. You’ll get that from me,” she adds.
As an Academic Services Manager, Kat is excited to instill her values and experience in the LSJ community, but is just as excited about learning from others. She is eager to start understanding and connecting with the community. “I have a zest for understanding how we interact and operate with each other,” Kat says. She is most excited about exploring how students engage across campus and what drives them.
“LSJ is such an engaging community where people are really intentional about how they get involved and why they get involved. It’s something that really stuck out to me and made me want to join this community. I feel like this position was designed for me and I can’t wait to dive in,” Kat says. The LSJ Department feels equally excited for Kat to join the team.