Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

Becoming a lifelong learner

Brittany Perisits, U of R associate director of Academic Success and Disability Services and School of Education student
“It was unbelievable how quickly I was able to apply my studies to my work role,” says Brittany Perisits, U of R associate director of Academic Success and Disability Services and School of Education student. (Photo by Michelle Dang)

I have always had a special place in my heart for the University of Redlands. Growing up, I played tennis on the Verdieck courts. In high school, my Associated Student Body leadership retreats were held on the University Quad. My friends who attended U of R as undergrads invited me to ballroom dancing classes in the Currier Gym and movie nights in Merriam Hall. It felt natural for me to be drawn back to the beautiful campus and inviting culture at University of Redlands as an adult.

While earning a bachelor’s and master’s in business administration with the intent of starting my own business, I landed jobs in higher education in graduate admissions and study abroad programming. During these student-centered positions, I realized I had a passion for working with college students and helping them reach their full potential.

In 2014, I joined the University of Redlands as an assistant director for enrollment for the School of Education. When I started in the position, the biggest challenge I faced was realizing how much I did not know about higher education and what it meant to truly help and counsel students. I always thought higher education ran like a business, and that student experiences on campus were transactional in nature. As I became more involved at U of R, I realized how much I had to learn.

I quickly immersed myself in the culture and professional development the University had to offer. A colleague at the time, Sara DeMoss, encouraged me to participate in University of Redlands Staff and Administrators Assembly (URSAA) and engage with different individuals across campus. I participated in the University’s employee diversity training, something that had not been offered to me by previous employers. In my position, I had the opportunity to meet with potential applicants who wanted to be teachers, counselors, and administrators both in K-12 and higher education. Each year I met with hundreds of applicants who had diverse backgrounds, identities, and aspirations and fell in love with the process of listening to their stories and dreams.

All these interactions cultivated a desire to expand my understanding of higher education and help college students in the development of their identities and pursuit of their educational and career aspirations. In 2017, I enrolled in the Master of Arts in School and College Counseling program at the University of Redlands.

It was unbelievable how quickly I was able to apply my studies to my work role. In my first semester, I learned what it meant to effectively listen and counsel individuals and to recognize and appreciate unique student identities and how they impact experiences not only in college but in society. This changed how I listened to, supported, and advocated for applicants from diverse backgrounds. As I took my elective classes, I learned about the history of higher education and how identity development occurs throughout one’s time as an undergraduate.

Working and studying at University of Redlands completely shifted my paradigm of what it means to be a lifelong learner and leader. Not only has the University of Redlands taught me to authentically and passionately celebrate diversity, but it has also helped me understand how I can continuously enrich my practice so I can work toward advancing a more just society.

What I appreciate most about University of Redlands is that it embraces my identity as a lifelong learner, providing ongoing educational workshops, events, and classes. Because of these opportunities, I became more prepared to work with students in a new capacity. I recently was hired as the associate director of Academic Success and Disability Services at U of R. In this position, I get to help students identify and work successfully toward their academic and personal goals while holistically developing their individual identities.

My identity as a lifelong learner means I will constantly strive for both personal and professional growth so I can better support and advocate for my students. Once I graduate, I might explore doctoral studies in the field. But for now, I feel incredibly blessed to not only be a part of the University of Redlands as an employee and student, but also as a member of a community of lifelong learners and agents of change.