Meet Sharece Bunn

My journey to student affairs was anything but linear. Rather than settling down to a job after college like my four siblings did, I took the adventurous route, joining Peace Corps and working temporary jobs after my two years abroad. I was always searching for the job and place that would give me meaning. In doing so, found the field of student affairs without actually looking for it. After getting my masters degree in journalism, I went back into the Peace Corps as a “response,” or short-term volunteer, hoping to find clarity for what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” It was during that year that I fell in love with working at a university. Working with college students brought me joy and pushed me to think in new ways. I had found my niche. 

When I came back to the states, I applied for all open jobs at universities in Washington and Oregon that had anything to do with working with international students or study abroad. I even applied to a few career center jobs. I figured that since I had so many different work experiences and a diverse education, I would be great in those roles. For whatever reason, these applications didn’t get me very far. Instead, I ended up back in graduate school at Oregon State University. 

When I look back, I’m actually quite grateful that I didn’t get any of those jobs. My two years learning student development theory and social justice in the College Student Services Administration (CSSA) Program at OSU made me a better, stronger individual. I’m much more qualified and competent to be in the field of student affairs with the knowledge I gained from that program. 

My journey into student affairs has taught me to value every learning opportunity. Whether I’m learning in a classroom, in a meeting, or through a conversation on the public transport system, I’m continually processing new information and ideas. Learning is central to my very existence and I cherish every opportunity I have to open my mind even more. 

I’m currently in my first full-time permanent position in student affairs. The job is at a community college. I feel good about this, because I told my graduate committee that I wanted to work at a community college, as I believed it would line up with my values so well. Working at a community college has challenged me to continue to challenge my own assumptions on more than one occasion. I was privileged enough to spend four years at my undergraduate institution where I lived on campus and was able to become active in the community based on my circumstances. The nature of community colleges are vastly different. Seeking ways to connect international students to the surrounding community when they don’t have the built in structural support of being life-long members of the community is a challenge. But I love this challenge. 

One of the advantages to my current work situation is that since I’m new to my position, I’m full of new ideas and I am ready to jump in and challenge the status quo. Sometimes I have to remind myself to be patient and learn more about the culture of the community before I jump in to make changes. 

I’ve come to realize that the thing years of education doesn’t teach some of us is humility or patience. I’ve studied in universities more than I’ve worked in the field and often this leads me to believe very strongly that I know what’s best because I’ve read research and theories that have taught me best practices. But reality shows me that institutional culture is deeply rooted and to change things that may be part of this culture takes some serious finessing. The good thing is that I’m building up my own support system to help me on my path. 

My professional journey is a process. It’s a path I’m following as I make meaning of my life and daily routine. When I feel particularly challenged or ask myself if I’m in the right place, I look at this quote my art teacher gave me when I graduated from college to join the Peace Corps. 

“There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread. – William Stafford.  

Stick with your thread, ladies. 


A little bit of advice: 
Be confident in your abilities. When you begin to doubt yourself, you can get lost. It can be hard to find your way back. 

Build relationships. People are part of your business. Learning to work with people requires some relationship building. Even if you’re the type that likes to keep your work and home life separate, putting a little time into developing a relationship with a colleague goes a long way. You never know when you’ll need that person to have your back. 

Stay positive. Debbie Downer is hilarious on SNL, but no fun in the work place. 

Seek joy. Forty hours is a lot of time. When you’re devoting that much of your life to something, it’s important to make it meaningful for you. Seeking joy in the workplace will make those 40 hours more valuable to your world. 

Contact Info: 
Linked In: Sharece M Bunn

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