Campus Closeup: Colleen Gaffney
Like many staff members at NMU, Colleen Gaffney (Vocational Support Services) handles a variety of responsibilities. She is an instructor for a Freshman Seminar class and an academic adviser/counselor for students assigned to her department, including probationary and undeclared students. She also coordinates tutoring services for the School of Technology and Applied Sciences, and has “a hodgepodge” of other student service-related responsibilities.
Gaffney has been with NMU for eight years, and began her employment in the Academic and Career Advisement Center. When asked why she made the move from ACAC to the Jacobetti Center, she replied, “As a coordinator of academic support services for three and a half years, I enjoyed my work immensely, but was ready to undertake new challenges that provide a different but fulfilling role for me.”
According to Gaffney, communication between advisers and students is still vital at Northern, but technology plays a much larger role in the process. “We have to keep up with the latest communication tools and resources in technology to be effective.”
Born and raised in Detroit, Gaffney first learned about NMU when her older brother enrolled here. She followed suit and fell in love with the area. After college, Gaffney moved back to the Detroit area and worked in the human resources field. She found her career direction while working as a placement coordinator for a vocational school in Detroit.
“I wanted to take my work with students a step further to working with students at the college level.”
She returned to graduate school, obtained a master’s in counseling at Eastern Michigan University and began her career at the University of Michigan in Dearborn. In 1993, Gaffney and her husband relocated to the Upper Peninsula. After a series of moves and career pursuits, she returned to NMU as an employee in 1997.
“I love working with students and was thrilled that I could be a part of NMU again. I love the location and the people up here; it’s a great environment for students to go to school while getting a great education both in and out of the classroom.”
In her spare time, she likes to read, take walks and congregate with friends. Gaffney’s three children, spouse and dog also keep her active outside of work. “Being a mother is the toughest job you’ll ever love,” she claims. “My family is my favorite hobby, hands down.”
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