To Genevieve Cleverley, her role as an Honors student admin has been a fulfilling experience that has enabled her to grow academically and personally. To the honors program, she has been a valuable member, a great friend to all her coworkers, and the talented creative behind the honorable messenger. Congratulations on graduating Genevieve, we shall miss you greatly!
At the end of my second year at the University of Iowa, I decided to apply to be a student admin with the Honors Program. Tired of spending hours surrounded by steam and hangers at a local clothing store, I was hoping for a chance to do something that felt important to me, and was closely aligned with my goals of a career in mental health. When I accepted the position as a purple-haired sophomore, I had no idea how impactful, challenging, fun, and meaningful my experience with the Honors Program would be. I have spent four semesters and a summer as a part of the student staff team. I have been lucky to dip a toe in several areas, whether it be collaborating on projects, outreach campaigns, and events as a student admin, or working for the newsletter publication team as a designer. I am proud of the work I have done, with the help and contributions of the individuals and groups with Honors.
On my first day in August of 2018, I joined the team, and hit the ground running. In addition to my eagerness to start a new job, the program’s 60 year anniversary celebration was approaching, creating an environment of tangible excitement and busyness. Recent leadership transitions had added a layer of challenge to everything, but the support and assistance of fellow students and pro-staff helped me feel comfortable and enthusiastic to take on new responsibilities. I quickly learned to apply the customer interaction skills I learned in the service industry to my interactions with honors students. I loved to tackle the design projects, from invitation postcards to digital advertisements for social media. Honors gave me a space to start projects from scratch, test many possible solutions, and to truly learn design by doing under supportive but challenging supervision and leadership.
The community of the Honors Program is easily one of the best parts of my internship experience. I feel fortunate to have connected with so many interesting, dedicated, and intelligent people over the last two years. Even by simply providing information and resources from the front desk, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the academic passions of faculty and fellow students. Being open to hearing about what other honors students were excited to learn about has taught me so much, and expanded the scope of my own interests. I might never be well-versed in the principles of biochemistry, but I relish in the opportunity to learn from others willing to share the results of their hard work. The Honors Program creates an environment that encourages communication across many disciplines, and participating in this community has shaped me into a more well-rounded and curious student.
I am also thankful for the working relationships and friendships I have created with co-workers. It has been fulfilling to see the strengths and ideas each individual brings to the table and to understand where I fit in to that puzzle. I have loved working on trivia nights, informational fairs, creative workshops, and social media campaigns to help students make the most of their Honors experience and to facilitate community building. Of course, it was also fun! One of my favorite memories is from the fall 2019 first-year social event, where I helped lead a very successful game of trivia, threw around some bouncy balls, and chatted with many excited freshmen. I have also developed valuable relationships with professional staff. It has been a wonderfully wild ride as we have learned to adapt to new roles and policies, and explored how to make the program the best it can be. I have loved collaborating with each person in unique ways. From working with Holly Blosser-Yoder to create Honors Newsletters and Alumni Connection publications to working with student admins and Heidi Schmitt to organize and enhance the plans and execution of the outreach team, I have learned so much about myself and the importance of connection with others in every part of my life.
As my time at the University of Iowa comes to a close and evolves in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am full of mixed feelings, as I’m sure many of us are. I am glad public safety measures are taken seriously, and while I do not wish to compare or detract from the intense and large-scale tragedy of this terrifying virus, I think it is important to acknowledge the grieving process following the abrupt end to the four years I have spent on campus and in Iowa City. I am lucky to be able to continue my work remotely, but I miss sitting at the desk, joking with peer mentors between their appointments, and chatting with pro-staff on their way to and from the printer. Despite the disappointment and sadness I’m feeling while adjusting to this new normal, I am finding new ways to remember why I am grateful and optimistic.
Working for the Honors Program has been a joy. I have become a better graphic designer and artist. I am still passionate about art, and will use those skills, though likely outside the scope of my career. As I gear up to move to Portland, Oregon to begin a master’s program in mental health counseling this fall, I am reflecting more upon the non-technical, less concrete things I’ve learned from Honors. I know that I am an enthusiastic and hardworking team member, and I feel confident and willing to take on the unfamiliar. I have discovered a greater capacity for self-discipline and feel confident in my ability to seek help and support from people around me. I value and appreciate the relationships with every person I have worked with, and I am excited to see how they evolve. Through many, many hours of “learning by doing” over the last two years, the self-discovery and support of the Honors Program has helped me grow academically, personally, and professionally.
Genevieve Cleverley is a senior studying psychology and studio art, with minors in human relations and social work. After graduating from the University of Iowa, she will begin a master’s program in mental health counseling at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. She has worked with the Honors Program as an admin and graphic designer for two years. She has enjoyed undertaking a variety of projects, including the revival of the BHC art gallery space. In her free time, she enjoys working at the Iowa Children’s Museum, printmaking, NPR podcasts, and petting dogs.
Edited by: Mishma Nixon, Honors Student Admin