Pfeiffer Inspires Career in Higher Ed Administration
Kira Suttles ’23, a native of Morganton, N.C., originally wanted to go into financial advising. But at Pfeiffer University, she discovered her true calling: working behind the classroom scenes in an administrative role to advance higher education for the benefit of students.
So, after she graduates from Pfeiffer with a B.S. degree in Business Management and Leadership, she’ll pursue an M.Ed. degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs beginning next fall at the University of South Carolina; that credential will prepare her for a range of administrative positions at colleges and universities in areas such as admissions, alumni affairs, career development, international student programming, and student advising.
“I really fell in love with higher education at Pfeiffer,” she said. “I saw the impact that faculty and staff could have on students, and I wanted to help college students just like Pfeiffer’s faculty and staff helped me.”
Suttles’s desire to work in higher ed administration took hold after she excelled in and developed a passionate love for the next best thing – several student leadership positions she held during her time at Pfeiffer. Among other things, she served as a Lead Student Ambassador, an Orientation Leader, and a Peer Mentor.
Suttles can point to personal experience to explain how important a Peer Mentor at Pfeiffer can be: Initially, she was inclined to withdraw into a comfort zone of isolation, having come to view the COVID-19 pandemic, which emerged in the spring of her freshman year, as a justification for not going out of her way to make friends and build relationships.
Her Peer Mentor, Jared Nelson ’19 ’23 MBA, would have none of that. The former Pfeiffer lacrosse star pushed Suttles hard to partake in experiences offered outside the classroom. In time, she not only came out of her shell but also found that she could effectively influence the students she later mentored to do the same.
“When you first get to Pfeiffer, it’s really easy to stay in your room,” she said. “I feel privileged that I’ve gotten the opportunity to help students get out of their rooms and explore the clubs and organizations that we have or just go to fun events, like casino night or trivia night, things that they probably wouldn’t go to if somebody wasn’t asking them to. That was something that I really enjoyed doing.”
Suttles also credits Regina Simmons, Pfeiffer’s former Director of Residence Life, for urging her to get involved in the University’s rich extracurricular culture. “She and Jared are the reason I applied to become a Peer Mentor and a Student Ambassador,” Suttles said. “If it wasn’t for them and for the roles I took on, I don’t think I would have stayed at Pfeiffer.”
Suttles, a first-generation college student, can point to several benefits of having stayed at Pfeiffer. Her major in Business Leadership and Management, for example, has taught her “a lot about leadership and leadership skills,” which will certainly come in handy when she lands a higher ed administrative position.
“Knowing how to manage people is something that I’m gonna have to do in any sort of job that I get,” she said. “Learning how to do that and how to be professional has taken me a very long way, both in my interviews at the University of South Carolina and in internships I took on while at Pfeiffer.”
When Suttles trains for a career in higher ed administration, she’ll be more bullish on the college experience than ever, having come to see the value of being immersed in a community where people don’t always share your views or experiences. At Pfeiffer, for example, all her roommates were from big cities; by contrast, she grew up in a small-town environment.
“I think that’s wonderful,” she said. “You get to know other people’s cultures.”
Finally, Suttles will leave Pfeiffer knowing how impactful it can be. “I’ve learned how to be a better friend and how to help others,” she said. “I know we, at Pfeiffer, talk all the time about being servant leaders, but I genuinely believe that that’s what the University helps shape each student to be.”