Meet Our Team – Nicole Santarsiero
This is the eighth in the series of interviews with the College Success Arizona team.
Continuing with this feature, and throughout the rest of this year, we’ll be taking a closer look at the College Success Arizona team, the people that make all that we do happen. We’ll be asking the normal “tell us a little about yourself” questions, but also delving a little deeper into each team member’s personality, and what makes them who they are.
This month’s subject is Nicole Santarsiero, College Success Arizona’s Office Assistant.
What is your role at College Success Arizona?
I am the office assistant, which means that I man the front desk, but I also play supportive roles for all of our different programs. I’ve been helping out with e-mentoring and I’ve been working on some text videos we sent out for that, and I’ve also started a blog, that’s posted on our website and available via our social media channels.
How did you come to be associated with College Success Arizona?
I moved here from Los Angeles, and was working for a nonprofit in the Phoenix area that focused on education. I was looking at a job board and found my current position posted, and that’s how I came to work for College Success Arizona.
What is the best thing about working with students (or your job)?
The best part for me is knowing that I’m part of a greater end goal here. I think that being part of this organization, that creates a channel for students to purse their dreams, and actually make those become a reality, is something that means a lot to me, and makes me feel like we’re working toward a greater purpose.
Why do you feel increasing Arizona’s College Attainment Rate is so important?
Right now I feel that there are so many barriers for students to be able to reach that goal and to pursue a higher education. I think breaking down those barriers will in fact increase those attainment rates. It’s all about students having and deserving the right to pursue their dreams, and I think by making college more accessible, students are encouraged to pursue the jobs, and goals that they want in life. I believe that that will help the state overall and benefit our economy.
What is your vision for the Arizona of the future?
I would love to see higher education be attainable for anyone who wants to pursue it. Even apart from college – such as trade schools and certificates – I would love to see anyone who wants to pursue anything higher than just high school have that ability, without those barriers.
If you had a message for a student just beginning their college career, what would that be?
Don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone. I definitely pushed myself in college and it helped me so much, even now. College is a time when you’re presented with a multitude of life experiences and new things all of the time. Sometimes, it’s easier to take a step back and just stick to what you know, but in the end you’ll learn so much more if you just push yourself. It’ll also help in your own self-discovery, and just gain more confidence in the whole process.
Some Basic stats (hometown, family, etc.):
I grew up just outside of Hartford, Connecticut and most of my family still lives there. For my undergraduate degree I studied at Stonehill College, which is about a half an hour south of Boston. For graduate school, I attended the University of Massachusetts – Boston, and I graduated with a Master in Business Administration (MBA). For my undergraduate, I had a double-major in Spanish and Religious Studies.
What was your First or most interesting job?
It was at a French bakery and restaurant where most of my coworkers were from France, so it was pretty authentic and fun. I worked in the office as an administrator and I got to see a little bit of everything. During the day it was all French pastries and croissants, and then at night it turned into a pretty pristine restaurant with all kinds of seafood dishes and pasta.
What is your career history?
Right after college I went to Costa Rica for a year to volunteer at a high school. I was working with students there and planning different trips for them. Then when I was in grad school, I was a research assistant for a marketing professor. My most recent job prior to College Success Arizona, was working as a project manager for a digital production company that develops websites for apps.
What are your hobbies/favorite pastime?
I’ve always loved arts and crafts, painting, building things – pretty much anything related to art.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I have a food that is a guilty pleasure, and that would be ice cream. I love ice cream and probably eat it almost every day.
Do you have a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter (or other!) social media account?
I have Facebook and Instagram.
What is your proudest moment?
The thing I’m most proud about is when I decided to study abroad. I was kind of terrified to do it and I ended up studying abroad in Costa Rica, and knew very little Spanish going into it. It was really terrifying, because I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea what bus to take or how to talk to the bus driver. So, going through that for a few months really helped me to become resilient and gain confidence. In the end, I learned Spanish and was totally fine, but I think that being immersed in a totally different culture, and being able to succeed there, was a pretty proud moment.