April 2018 Student Spotlight
April Student Spotlight with Brian Tsai, MSEd ’18
Dedication isn’t always the path to fulfillment. MSEd student, Brian Tsai learned that while exploring what he thought was his desired career path. Instead, he’s finding fulfillment with a role in higher education. In this month’s student spotlight, Brian discusses his favorite MSEd classes, the future of his career, and more.
What has your experience been so far, working in higher education?
My first experience working in higher education was at Queensborough Community College, which was where I was studying, working as a tutor, and providing support at the front desk in the Tutoring Center. I enjoyed communicating with and helping students while also pursuing my academic goals. I found that my friends were constantly asking me for advice about what classes they needed to take or about other issues they had because of my administrative experience. At the time, I had set a path to pursue theatre or film and even though I liked working in higher education, I was determined to stick with my original career path.
After getting my associate’s degree, I transferred to Hunter for a bachelor’s degree in film and took advantage of several opportunities to work in that realm. However, after obtaining my bachelor’s and having spent more time working in theatre and film, I realized that the dedication was still there, but I didn’t have a sense of fulfilment.
I came across a part-time job listing for a College Assistant in the Office of Graduate Admissions at Hunter College. I worked there for over three years. I met some great mentors and peers who taught me a lot about working in higher education and expanded my scope of knowledge of the field. And my friends reminded me about my job at QCC and how much I had thoroughly enjoyed working there. As time went on, my colleagues opined that I would do great in a higher education career. This felt right and with the support from friends, colleagues, and supervisors, I began to look into Baruch’s Higher Education Administration program.
Tell us about your time in the MSEd program so far.
During my time in the program, I’ve gained so much—learning about the intricacies of financing higher education, understanding student development, focusing on research and the structure of higher education, gaining leadership skills, and reaping the rewards of working in student services. The program itself has helped provide me with job opportunities, new connections, and me to focus on all the possibilities of working in higher education. The MSEd-HEA program has certainly helped me apply my critical thinking to higher education and real-world professional experiences. As a current employee in the Department of Psychology at Baruch, I have finally reached the perfect combination: personal fulfillment along with professional dedication to student services.
What are some of your favorite MSEd classes?
I enjoyed all of the courses that I’ve taken in the MSEd program. I’ve enjoyed taking Student Services with Rachel Smith. It was the first course I took in the program, and it certainly left an impression. Discussing case studies and learning about different theories that back up on how to service students has certainly helped me develop as a professional. The course has also helped me better understand challenges in student development.
Another course I enjoyed was Management and Leadership in Higher Education with Rachel Fester. Learning about the difference between management and leadership helped to understand how to use the two in conjunction with one another or when to utilize it separately. The different leadership styles that we learned help create identity and adapt to each environment.
What type of institution would you most like to work for? In what role?
Because CUNY has such a huge volume of diverse students, I would most like to work in CUNY. Being born and raised in New York City, having a lot of traffic and diversity is something I have become accustomed to.
CUNY has helped to provide access to education, and getting students admitted into their education career is something that I’d like to be involved in. Providing students with information about programs, analyzing trends and data, and being involved in helping students embark on their journey is something I enjoy. The beginning of a student’s academic [pursuits] can help pave the road to the rest of their lives.