Class of 2017: First-generation college student jumps into student affairs
May 1, 2017
It’s rare to start your first day of classes on the same day as your first day of work — at a new school, in a new town, and in a new state.
But Jade Carcamo, who will graduate this spring with her master’s degree in higher education and student affairs, did just that, and she took all the “new” in stride.
“Being an employee of the university as well as a student has brought about a unique Hokie experience,” said Carcamo. “While I ventured out to find my place as a new Hokie, I was also helping other new Hokies find their place at Virginia Tech through my work in Housing and Residence Life.”
In addition to her work with Housing and Residence Life, where she served as assistant residential learning coordinator in Vawter, Newman, Johnson, and O’Shaughnessy Halls, Carcamo spent a semester interning with the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. In this role, she assisted the chief of staff with ongoing divisional projects, events, and meetings, and supported Division of Student Affairs initiatives, such as the Aspirations for Student Learning and the Keystone Experience.
“It was such a privilege to work with Jade,” said Hunter Gresham, who served as chief of staff during Carcamo’s time in the Office of the Vice President. Gresham currently serves as executive director of communications and information technology in the Division of Student Affairs.
“I hesitated to take on a graduate assistantship, given the unpredictability of my role on any given day,” said Gresham. “But from the moment I met her, it was obvious that she clearly understood the important work of student affairs and our Aspirations for Student Learning. I must say, I learned as much from Jade as I hope she did from me. She is inquisitive, compassionate, authentic, and self-assured — brilliant in every sense of the word!”
Hailing from Jersey City, New Jersey, Carcamo noted that one of the highlights of her time here in Blacksburg has been experiencing all four seasons.
“It is truly fascinating to experience the beautiful white winters, as well as the falls with shades of orange and maroon that complement the Hokie Stone so well,” said Carcamo. “Seeing everyone on the quads on their hammocks and just hanging out when it is nice out brings such a sense of community and peace.”
Carcamo recognizes the importance of a holistic education, and she has plugged into different campus organizations to seek knowledge in unique arenas.
She serves as treasurer and Ebony Affair committee chair for the Black Graduate Student Organization, and she said that organization is where she found her place at Virginia Tech. Through it, she has helped plan and implement social and educational events aimed to improve the experience of Black graduate and undergraduate students at Virginia Tech, all while bringing the university community together.
“I believe education can change the world,” said Carcamo. “By education, I’m not just speaking about academic education, but also informal education. Learning should expand beyond the classroom. If we take the time to learn about others and learn how to engage with others who are different than us, we would be in a much better place.”
The Division of Student Affairs highlights five Aspirations for Student Learning that serve as the learning outcomes for life outside the classroom. One of those Aspirations is a commitment to unwavering curiosity, and it has truly struck a chord with Carcamo’s passions.
“I strongly believe that, in order to find truth in the biggest questions of life, we must be curious and continue the conversation, continue to challenge the process, and ask questions,” said Carcamo. “You never know what you may discover if you just open yourself to the possibilities of learning new things.”
Carcamo is a first-generation college student, and she’s the first in her family to earn a master’s degree. Following commencement this May, Carcamo will spend a few weeks traveling in South Africa and Kenya before starting her professional career as a residence hall coordinator at the University of Delaware in July.
“There is something special about being on a college campus, and I look forward to my career in the field of student affairs for many years to come,” said Carcamo.
Written by Holly Paulette