Campus Closeup: Michele Stephenson
It’s a busy time of year for Michele Stephenson, who works as a counselor in the Academic and Career Advisement Center. With students being advised before they register, worrying about passing a class they’re struggling in or simply needing questions answered, she has appointments all day.
But that’s part of what she loves about her job. She enjoys being able to help people in a way that a lot of other people in the university can’t do so directly.
“We’ve had people come in and say, ‘Oh, no one’s ever explained it quite the same or helped me so much,’ and that makes me feel really good,” Stephenson said.
Even when things are slower in the office, Stephenson said she enjoys how diverse the job is. She sometimes gives presentations on improving study skills, helps students plan their academic future at Northern and teaches a freshmen seminar course.
“It’s not the same every day,” she said. “There are various things that we can do and stay fresh. Even though we feel like we get in a routine sometimes, there’s always something to add in there.”
Stephenson isn’t just an academic adviser at Northern; she also a student. She is taking classes to complete her master’s degree in training and development and takes one or two classes a semester to help balance school and her family. Stephenson anticipates she will finish her degree in Winter 2013. She said the classes she's taking for her major are helping her improve at her job in a number ways, including learning about the technology that Northern has to offer.
“Northern has a lot of technology accessible to students that I don’t think students are aware is available to them,” Stephenson said. “I like trying to help students figure out how to use it.”
Northern and Marquette are a special place for Stephenson since she graduated from Northern in 1989 with a degree in outdoor recreation leadership and management. She moved to Carbondale, Ill., to work for a Southern Illinois University organization that took at-risk teenagers on outdoor education trips. She later moved to Janesville, Wis., where she worked in the parks and recreation department.
In 1997, she returned to Northern after she was hired to work in what is now the Outdoor Recreation Center in the PEIF. She worked there for a couple of years and then worked as a facility and event manager in the Superior Dome. When the job in ACAC opened, she applied.
“I felt qualified to do that job because I had some teaching experience at the college level and had worked with young people who were having difficult times. A lot of what (ACAC) does is work with students who need a little extra guidance,” Stephenson said.
She said that she’s happy to be back in the Upper Peninsula and raising her family here. She has two daughters, ages seven and nine, and enjoys doing outdoor activities with them like hiking, ice skating, roller blading and canoeing. Since being outdoors and exploring were a big part of her life when she was young, Stephenson said she’s glad that her children are growing up in a place with so many outdoor opportunities. She also appreciates the wide range of affordable community activities in Marquette.