In the Community

Three OU alums give back as FYAC, ONSP employees

All recent graduates of the university, these colleagues were inspired to serve students and their families after receiving tremendous support in their own educational pursuits

Huff, Shinske, Issa, support services, FYAC, ONSP

icon of a calendarJanuary 8, 2024

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On a daily basis, Oakland University’s outstanding faculty and dedicated student support services professionals provide everything students need to successfully pursue their dreams of engaged and rewarding lives.

Three recent OU graduates and current university employees are demonstrating how the positive impact of this work grows not just one student at a time, but exponentially across campus and the broader community.

FYAC Alumni

From left, Grace Shinke, Celeste Huff and Zuhair Issa enjoy a few moments discussing what they enjoy most about utilizing their OU experiences as students and graduates to now serve current students as OU employees.

Celeste Huff, coordinator of Orientation and New Student Programs (ONSP), and Grace Shinske and Zuhair Issa, both academic advisers in the First Year Advising Center (FYAC), are using the instruction, experiential learning and engagement opportunities that OU provided them to help both current and prospective students discover the same transformational experiences.

“As a first year/first generation student I felt pretty confused about college and really leaned on my advisers,” Shinske said.

A recipient of a bachelor’s degree in anthropology in 2020 and a master’s degree in higher education in 2022, both from OU, she added, “I wanted to help students in the same way that I was helped. I enjoy meeting with students and learning about their goals and interests, and helping to demystify and make sense of the college experience.”

Huff, who earned a bachelor’s degree in communication in 2018 from OU, as well as a master’s degree in education from Grand Valley State University in 2020, echoed her colleague’s thoughts.

“The FYAC and ONSP really showed me the type of support students and their families deserve,” she explained. She added that her experiences on OU’s campus helped nurture her passion to support students and their families.

“From taking assessments to course recommendations to helping me get connected to tutoring, my advisers were with me every step of the way to ensure I was successful. It is because of this positive experience that I wanted to give back to the department that helped shape me.”

Issa, who holds both a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public administration from OU, said he shares the very same passion. It was kindled through on-campus work experiences in FYAC, Undergraduate Admissions and the Center for Multicultural Initiatives.

“Being a former OU student, I remember how valuable it was to have employees on campus be there for me. This is my opportunity to pay it forward!”

Meanwhile, Issa and his fellow alumni and colleagues continue to enjoy rewards of their own – namely by virtue of the opportunity to be continually inspired by the students they serve.

“They all have so many amazing aspirations and goals, and I love that I have the opportunity to help them achieve,” Issa said.

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