Winona State fills interim director position in-house

Sophia Sailer, news reporter

Winona State University’s Director of Student and Community Engagement, Kendra Weber, is now the Interim Director of Admissions as of Jan. 20, 2021.

Weber said she is excited to be filling the interim role at Winona State because of her passion to learn why students go to college, and specifically, why they choose Winona State.

However, it is becoming more and more common for high school graduates to choose not to attend college, opting for different career paths rather than continuing their schooling, according to Weber.

“We are going through very challenging times. We’re still in this demographic where there’s just fewer students of the traditional college age,” Weber said. “Fewer of them than ever, at least in recent history, are actually going to college.”

Winona State has previously claimed its college experience is like a private school with a public school cost, which brings in many students looking for affordability.

Weber said she has already seen and experienced how readily Winona State’s admissions staff is to help students.

“The people who work here in our faculty and staff are amazing, I see that, and even in a week I’m seeing that people reach out saying, ‘absolutely, I’ll talk to this prospective student or help the student through a thing,’” Weber said. “We’re all on the same team and in the same boat, all working toward the same goals.”

In Weber’s previous role in student and community engagement, she said she enjoyed getting to know students the most.

“My favorite thing is always working with students. Whether it was working with an individual student who was looking to get connected in the community in some way or a student club that was looking for a volunteer opportunity,” Weber said.

Since COVID-19, Weber said everything about her role changed, and her main source of connection with students was through a screen instead of in-person now.

However, this provided Weber the opportunity to find different things to enjoy about her job.

“Now, we can’t be sending students out in the community or bringing groups to campus. I got pretty involved in helping out with the Facebook group Winona Neighbors Helping Neighbors, helping moderate,” Weber said. “We’ve had lots of students and staff and faculty step up and help in lots of ways: delivering food, making masks, donating money. [It is] just amazing.”

In her new position as Interim Director of Undergraduate Admissions, Weber said she wants to focus on finding out what exactly made current students choose to attend Winona State.

“I would really like, specifically, to ask the students to be thinking about why they came here, if they can identify when that moment was,” Weber said.

Hannah Harper, a second-year student majoring in communication studies with an emphasis in leadership and advocacy, talked about how she felt connected to Winona, even now amidst mostly online learning due to COVID.

“Being a completely online student, I try to get out as much as I can. I chose Winona because it felt like home, and I try to make it feel like home even with these special circumstances,” Harper said.