By Alex Appel
Director of Student Activities Karoline Sears will be leaving Union next year to work for the New York State Education Department (NYSED) in the Office of Higher Education. Sears has worked at Union for five years in Student Activities. In her next position, she will be working on accrediting schools.
“I didn’t expect to leave Union. I’ve been here for five years and I’ve been incredibly happy. Union is my home, so the fact that I’m leaving is a little bit of a surprise in my career path. You never know where your career will leave you. There’s no set path for anyone, myself included,” Sears said.
During her time at Union, Sears worked with student-run clubs and organizations. “I hope that people, when they came into Student Activities, walked away having learned something – about themselves, about whatever the topic of their club is. Our philosophy in Student Activities is to play devil’s advocate and question people to push them and challenge them… We ask those questions to make sure that you’ve thought of everything and you take the time to articulate what it is that you want to do and what you want to accomplish… I know that it will continue because Matt has created a wonderful environment where those questions will be asked,” Sears said.
“She has been so amazingly helpful, helping us plan events for all of our clubs, regardless of whether or not they were exactly under her domain,” Kyle Doney ’20 said.
Sears has also helped run the Leadership Experience Pre-Orientation Program. These pre-orientation programs are designed to introduce first-year students to people with similar interests to them and to cultivate various passions before the start of First-Year Orientation.
Sears came up with the idea for and helped design the Leadership Pre-Orientation.
“That in and of itself is an experience that I will take away with me because I was given the opportunity to put together something so big and I’m happy and sad to be leaving this. I’m happy that this is going to be continuing on as something of a legacy, that this is an opportunity that students can still have, even though I’m not here, but I’m sad because it was my baby,” Sears said.
Casey Ergin ’21 participated in the Leadership Pre- Orientation this past summer. She signed up after the Community Service Pre-Orientation filled up. “I thought, ‘I’ll go to this and I’m not going to be with people who were sports teams captains, or heads of charities, I’m not going to measure up to those people, but they have a community service aspect to it, so I’m going to go,’ and I had a blast. I fit in with everyone who was there and I made my best friends there,” she said.
Sears decided to work in accrediting after the NYSED reached out to her about filling the job position. “I’ve been that person in the three places that I’ve worked in my career because I’ve been interested in it. I’m kind of an assessment nerd, I like the data, I like to figure out what the data means and so that has been a smaller part of my responsibilities, and since I’ve been doing it for so long and since I’ve enjoyed it so much, when this opportunity came I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s talk a little bit,’” Sears said.
“I think she has done amazing things for Student Activities at this school and I think we are going to miss her dearly,” Brian Zick ’19 said.
When asked about what advice she would give to her successor, she stated, “Union
is a really remarkable and unique place and when someone new comes in, they should take the time to learn about who the students are and how things work here before jumping in and making huge change. I know I just said change is good and it is, but there is a right way and a wrong way to institute change.”