December 3, 2021
Graduates from the higher education and student development master’s degree program found jobs within their chosen field.
In Fall 2019, the Wheaton College Graduate School formed the higher education and student development (HESD) master’s degree program, expanding upon an existing degree in Christian formation and ministry. This fall, the program’s first cohort graduated and secured a 100% employment rate with the majority landing in higher education positions, said Olga Dietlin, assistant professor of higher education and student development as well as the program’s director.
“Our graduates form a strong understanding of the profession’s history and values and reflect deeply on the ways the Christian faith animates the mission of higher education professionals,” said Dietlin. “Students are fluent in college student development and learning theories and are ready to apply them to serve, develop, and disciple students of all backgrounds.”
Graduates earned positions in student housing, student engagement, college ministry departments, and admissions. They’ve also found jobs co-leading diversity efforts as well as positions at faith-based organizations where they can work with emerging adults, said Dietlin.
Preston Teuscher ’17 ’21 serves as a residence director, and he credits his graduate experience at Wheaton for helping him secure the position. “At Messiah University in particular, there is a high value placed upon a residence director’s ability to be an informed developer and educator of students, and the HESD program gave me the skills and knowledge this institution was looking for,” he said.
In addition to learning about emerging adult development, the landscape of higher education in the U.S., and the “unique characteristics of the new generation of college students,” Teuscher said he thinks about the concepts learned through the Leadership and Legal Issues course daily.
“I was tasked with crafting my own philosophy of leadership that was informed by our study of leadership theories and higher education leadership case studies. The personal leadership philosophy that I crafted helped me articulate my leadership style in interviews and guides me every day as I lead a team of student leaders.”
Teuscher also credit his graduate assistantship as a residence advisor for preparing him well for his current position. Fellow alumna Cristina Guevara ’19 ’21 echoes this sentiment. Guevara worked in the Office of Multicultural Development and now works as Assistant Director of Admission, Diversity and Access at Smith College.
“My assistantship was the highlight of my experience in graduate school. It served as a crucial complement to my HESD training in order to best equip me to serve and walk alongside BIPOC students.”
Guevara also values the mentoring she received from faculty and staff. “It is because of the training I received in the Office of Multicultural Development that I move forward confidently in working to help bring students to a school where every part of their identity is cherished, valued, and supported,” she said.
The higher education and student development master’s degree program at Wheaton College is “distinctive because of its emphasis on discipleship and mentorship by the experienced practitioners who lead the student life division and higher education departments,” said Dietlin.
To explore this degree further, please visit the HESD program page.