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Athletics and academics go hand-in-hand for Southeast graduate student Katy Pacelli. Katy, a Columbia, Miss., native, will graduate in the spring with a Master’s in Higher Education Administration. While at Southeast, she has worked as a graduate assistant in the Athletic Advising office.
“My main function as a graduate assistant is to help student-athletes succeed academically,” Katy said. “On a daily basis I will monitor study hall, answer general questions, academically advise the students and proofread papers.”
As a graduate assistant, Katy says she also help with the LifeSkills program, where she has implemented a competition among the different athletic teams to encourage the student-athletes to support other athletes, volunteer for community service projects, seek personal enhancement opportunities and maintain good grades each semester. The team with the most points at the end of the year is awarded a prize for all their hard efforts.
The one activity Katy says she loves performing as a graduate assistant is her volunteer work with Project Charlie.
Katy’s support of Southeast athletics extends to a personal level. Her husband, Jay, is the head women’s tennis coach for Southeast.
“I have come to know the women’s tennis team very well through my marriage to Jay,” Katy said. “Because of those relationships and my job in the athletic department, I try to attend every Southeast athletic event on campus and support the students as much as possible. The only thing that keeps me from going to a game is a class conflict.”
Katy chose her graduate program after working for her college alma mater, Mississippi University for Women in Columbia. For four years, Katy worked in the admissions office as a high school admissions counselor and a community college recruiter.
“I wanted to take this job after graduating with my bachelor’s degree because I saw it as a way to repay the University for the wonderful experiences I had as a student,” Katy explained. “After the first year, I discovered a passion for helping students make choices on where to attend college and realized I wanted to make a career out of it. In order to advance in higher education, I needed an advanced degree.”
Being a graduate student at Southeast has presented its fair share of challenges for Katy. She says her most challenging experience was taking Methods of Research her first semester as a graduate student.
“I found this course extremely difficult mainly because I had been out of school for four years,” she explained. “Taking this class early in my program forced me to develop my writing skills and has made writing for my other courses relatively easy.”
Katy says she has enjoyed meeting new friends through her graduate program and loves the rich history and tradition that Cape Girardeau offers its residents. She says she feels her professors and the courses she has taken at Southeast have paved the way for success after graduation.
“Southeast has provided the skills I need to be a successful administrator in higher education,” she said. “I have learned theories and concepts that I will apply on the job and I have gained a tremendous amount of experiential learning through my assistantship and my internship in the Office of Admissions.”
When Katy isn’t working hard in school, she enjoys traveling and taking photographs. After visiting Aruba for her honeymoon, Katy says she plans on returning to the island after graduating.
After working full time and deciding to further her education, Katy says the best advice she can give future Southeast students is to enjoy life and have fun.
“You have the rest of your adult life to work, so enjoy the time you spend in college and get the most from your education. And don’t ever be afraid to change your major because it’s important to love the job you get up for everyday.”