Spend some time with Director of Campus Life and Student Engagement, Hannah Finkelstein

Having started over the summer, new Director of Campus Life and Student Engagement, Hannah Finkelstein, said she’s counting down the days until students return to Lees-McRae to put some of her plans in motion.

For Finkelstein, a recent graduate from North Carolina State University with her master’s degree in Higher Education Administration, college is so much more than just academics.

“The classroom should be giving you the knowledge and content you need for your field, but campus life experiences allow students to apply their knowledge,” Finkelstein said.

For the remainder of the summer, Finkelstein said she will be working diligently to create new and engaging programming to complement the already successful events and groups across campus.

“I want to craft experiences that will be memorable and impactful for our students,” she said.

Get to know the Director of Campus Life and Student Engagement a little more with our most recent staff Q&A: (responses have been edited for clarity and brevity)


Where are you from originally?

I grew up in Northwest New Jersey, so North Carolina has definitely been a major change of pace! All of my family lives in the New Jersey area, but I moved to North Carolina when I started college because of a really specific major offered by my alma mater.

Where did you attend school and what did you receive your degree in?

I started my college career at Barton College, a small school similar in size to Lees-McRae, where I was studying Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. I was immensely involved in aspects of campus life including the orientation team, residence life and my sorority. I left with a degree in Middle School Education with an emphasis in English Language Arts before starting my graduate program at North Carolina State University. While there, I worked in the Office of New Student Programs until I completed my Master of Education in Higher Education Administration this spring!

What drew you to the position of Director of Campus Life and Student Engagement here at Lees-McRae?

I knew that I needed to be where people truly cared for their students and I needed to be in a role that allowed me to advocate for each student on campus. The Director of Campus Life and Student Engagement creates connections with within the student body and puts into place interventions to improve their experience while they’re here.

What is campus life, exactly?

Campus life is a pretty wide functional area in student affairs, but think of it as what happens outside of the classroom and residence halls! At Lees-McRae, campus life includes all campuswide events and programs such as Programming Council, Student Government Association, registered student organizations, multicultural programming, orientation and more!

What do you hope to accomplish in your first several months here at the college?

I’ve got an outline of what our fall semester will look like, which will include a new leadership development certificate program, new social justice workshops, a revamped Greek council program, and some of your favorite and treasured campus events! I’m hoping to harness the things that have been great and complement them with programs that are new and exciting to students and employees alike.

Why is it important to have campus life programming in college?

Campus life and student involvement opportunities help students foster transferable skills such as leadership, communication, problem solving, and the ability to have meaningful interactions with people who might be different from them. These are the skills that set students from small campuses apart in the job force. The ability to interact with someone on a human level is major! I think campus life at a small college is uniquely suited to help students excel because there is enough space for everyone to take on leadership roles that are suited to them and enough staff to provide the support needed for each student to reach their full potential. In my role, I will know that I have succeeded when students are graduating with the perspectives and abilities they need to reach their goals in a global and ever changing society.

Since you began here during the summer, are you excited to meet the students once they return in the coming months?

I can’t wait for students to return to campus! Their lives are at the core of my work and everything I do, so it is going to be incredible to be able to put names to faces and have their passion and motivation to fuel all that we do in campus life! I really hope that students will come chat with me whether I’m walking across campus or they’re dropping by my office. I always want to hear their thoughts and ideas, and support in any way I can.

If you could say something directly to the student body about campus life, what would that be?

If you loved your campus life experience so far—awesome! I can’t wait to hear about what you’ve loved and I hope you’ll enjoy my spin on things! If you haven’t yet found your niche on campus, or you think you’re satisfied with where you are, come out to a few events! Try something new, or something that scares you a little! I am confident that there will be events that appeal to everyone, and I’d love to see you there.

When you are not on campus, what do you do for fun? What are some of your favorite hobbies?

I’m not particularly skilled, but I enjoy bouldering which is a hobby I picked up a few years ago! I also love some introvert time—whether it be reading, working on a jigsaw puzzle, or listening to an audiobook.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself or something people might not know about you.

Something that people might not know about me is that I’m a major fan of black coffee! I love checking out new coffee shops and I’m always down to grab a cup of coffee at any time of day or night.

Q and A with Hannah Finkelstein
By Nina MastandreaJune 18, 2018
Campus LifeFamilies