Interview with Ms. Morgan Cottrell
by Alexis den Boggende, Connections Intern
Q: What is your favorite part about working with Roger Williams students?
A: Seeing their potential, and having a bit of a hand in helping them understand what their potential is–helping them realize how Roger Williams is going to help them achieve that potential. My most satisfying moments here, by far, are those when I can bring a student from a place of stress, anxiety or fear, or some negative emotion, and watch them leave my office feeling relieved. I like seeing them realize that they have options that they perhaps didn’t think they had before. I love seeing them hopeful about the future and new opportunities.
Q: If someone asked what Student Advising and Advocacy is all about, what would you tell them?
A: Our main focus is to help students who are facing some type of challenge. We have programs to help students who are facing challenges–which a lot of times includes new students. We realize that the transition from high school to college is very challenging, so one of our biggest programs is the peer mentor program. In that program, each new student gets a peer mentor. We also have programs for students who are undeclared. We make sure, in addition to our faculty advisors, we are meeting with them to check in on their options. We have various outreach to all students throughout the semester, including students who may have warning grades, haven’t registered for classes, and students whose faculty are reporting that they aren’t going to class. We just want to help.
Q: What advice would you give to students, especially incoming freshmen and transfers?
A: Make connections. That is the number one priority. Make strong, positive connections, and realize where their resources are, whether it be an Orientation Advisor, their Peer Mentor, or their faculty members. Let people know what their goals are. Let people know what they’re excited about.
Q: What’s a typical day like in the Advising and Advocacy office?
A: There’s no typical day! It’s always a different day. Everyday I’m learning something new–that’s what makes this job so much fun, and what makes this office so much fun. The Peer Mentors are always in the office during their office hours, and the nature of the appointments we have throughout the year change. A couple of weeks from now, our main focus is going to be recruitment for Peer Mentors. Applications to become a Peer Mentor are available now in our office, and the deadline is February 15.
Q: What inspired you to go into working in advising and advocacy?
A: I am a first generation college student, myself. I never really knew the significance of that while I was in college. I didn’t realize it until my junior and senior year. I had a great college experience, but I did the FASFA by myself, and I moved myself onto campus. Whenever I faced a challenge on campus, I always figured it out on my own. Some of my friends, who were also first generation college students, struggled. They didn’t know who to turn to or go to if something went wrong. I felt lucky that I knew what I had to do. It helped a lot. I’ve always been somebody who just wants to help. I know that higher education is the ticket and the key to help a person succeed, and I know first generation college students do face their struggles along the way. I want people to be treated in an equitable way and given the right opportunities. I feel like higher education will open you up to great opportunities in life. I wanted to be in a position where I could help, where students really needed me.
Q: What is your favorite book?
A: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It’s all about how to live your life–it’s about love and relationships. It’s very simple and I find that no matter where I am in life, I find pieces of that book that my life relates to.
Q: Who is your favorite author? Have you read anything else by this person?
A: Sheryl Sandberg, who wrote Lean In. She writes about how women are treated in the workplace and how they have to reach the same potential as men. It talks about how, as a woman, you can become a role model for other women as well as taking care of yourself. But really, my favorite author kind of depends on the latest book I’ve read and liked.
Q: What book do you think everybody should read at least once?
A: Definitely The Prophet.
Q: In your free time, what are some things you like to do for fun?
A: I always joke that I’m such a nerd! I love it. Right now, me, my partner, his fourteen-year-old son and I like playing these complicated board games. Carcassonne is one of them, as well as Stone Age and Agricola. They’re really complicated and they take over the whole table, and you’ve got to play the game several times in order to truly understand it. I also love binge-watching Netflix.