A Look Through the Eyes of the Head of the Office of Student Success
Amy Finley has been working at the University of Michigan-Dearborn for 13 years in a variety of positions. From Student Life, Leadership Programs, Civic Engagement Programs, and being an advisor for the student activities board and student government, it’s easy to see where her passions lie. Dr. Fin
Amy Finley has been working at the University of Michigan-Dearborn for 13 years in a variety of positions. From Student Life, Leadership Programs, Civic Engagement Programs, and being an advisor for the student activities board and student government, it’s easy to see where her passions lie. Dr. Finley has always been interested in helping students in a variety of ways.
Before becoming involved with UM-Dearborn, Dr. Finley received her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary Social Sciences from Michigan State. She then was a graduate assistant at Eastern Michigan University, gaining her Masters in Higher Education and Student Affairs. Wanting to work at a smaller university, she began working at UM-Dearborn - shortly thereafter beginning her PhD program in Higher Adult and Lifelong Education from Michigan State University. Working while going to school was good training for her because she was able to balance her work and schooling. Her experiences working while she was a student reflect on what she would eventually be doing as the Director for the Office of Student Success.
When the Director for the Office of Student Success position became available, it was a natural fit for her apply. In this role, she knew she would be able to help students outside the classroom, educate students on the various skills needed to become better students, and help them be successful academically and co-curricularly.
Her daily routine is never the same. The most regular occurrences are helping the staff create exciting programs, working with students to get exposure to new ideas, broadening their horizons, and continuing to help create programs that overcome the barriers that students face.
“With each passing year, what the students need will always continue to be different, so we have to be ready and agile.” she said
Being the head of the office, Dr. Finley is always moving, with meetings happening within the Office of Student Success and beyond. Meetings outside of the office are very different for her because they are often about creating collaborations and building relationships with the other offices on campus. Her schedule is very busy, but with her high energy, she always manages to stay on top of things. In her position, it’s a benefit that she loves meeting new people.
Working with Students & Co-Workers
Any good leader has a good team to back them up, and in Dr. Finley’s eyes, her “co-workers are all awesome. They all care about their students,” she says. Tyler Guenette is hardworking and creative, impressing her by making new solutions to solve problems. Sharon Lobdell has a wealth of knowledge and easily asks questions and is excited about tutoring services. Traci Ballard cares very deeply about the students, sitting with them for hours to make a difference for them. Perry Boyd II is a very hard worker, working from the minute he arrives to when he leaves, and cares about the work he does for the students. Arika Q. Rice, a compassionate and devoted individual, had done her undergrad at UM-Dearborn which eventually led to her position as the Hail Scholars Success Coach.
The students she works with also play a large part in her enjoyment of her position. They all have amazing skills and she is blessed to be working with them all. It isn’t always easy but Dr. Finley’s high energy and passion for helping others makes it worth coming in every day. “I am grateful everyday for this job,” she expressed.
Outside of being the director for the OSS, Dr. Finley is a mom with a three year old. She enjoys reading, shopping, travelling, and cooking, even admitting to being a better cook than baker. She has had 20 years of trying out cooking and has a lot of different recipes that her family enjoys.
For work she has had to go out of state once or twice but she enjoys travel overall and enjoys the idea of vacationing anywhere. Her first large trip was to the Caribbean, and in college she travelled across Europe. Another recent trip she remembered fondly was 10 years ago where she went to Europe once more and visited the UK, France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland - which were all very fascinating to visit for her.
Dr. Finley’s experiences and passion for helping students has been a strong asset for her as the Director of the Office of Student Success. Having the right attitude towards work is an important aspect to have, especially when it comes to helping students. Having a passion for your work is admirable but it also helps to have a strong team behind you. An office will function better with a good leader that cares about everyone around her. It isn’t always easy with so many responsibilities and countless meetings but Dr. Finley keeps her head up high. The Office of Student Success is in good hands with her at the helm.
Author: Catherine Lencione