She’s Giving Students the Extra Push They Need
“My favorite week of the year is commencement week…we celebrate with students after years of hard work.”
Dr. Lilly Massa-McKinley earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Wake Forest University, a master’s in student affairs administration from Indiana University, and her doctorate in higher education leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University. While she has held a variety of positions during her career, she has always had a passion for working with students through counseling and activism. Lilly previously worked with Louisville’s 55,000 Degrees initiative as the collaboration coordinator helping address barriers to college access and success. She is now serving as the Assistant Vice President of Career Development and Strategic Partnerships at Bellarmine University.
What drew you to your current position?
“I was an activist and an idealist who wanted to help others but wasn’t sure exactly how to do it. I was passionate about a variety of social justice issues and found my first professional job at the University of Montana as a crisis counselor and advocate for survivors of sexual assault and relationship violence. It was during this wonderful professional opportunity that I realized there was a whole field dedicated to supporting students through their college experiences, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Did you always plan on education?
“Education has been a consistent theme in my personal and professional life. Since middle school I’ve worked and volunteered as a Vacation Bible School teacher, camp counselor, and summer school teacher. But I never would have guessed that I’d be the director of a career center at a university!”
What is your favorite part about your job?
“My favorite week of the year is commencement week. As a university we celebrate with students after years of hard work, we hear about their exciting plans for what lies ahead, and we share with them in reminiscing about their incredible experiences as a student. It is the culmination of so much hard work on behalf of the students and on behalf of the Career Development Center.”
What advice would you give to young women who want to succeed in your field?
“I have a lot of mantras which help me figure out where to spend my time and energy. ‘Start small, think big, aim high’ inspires me to take the first step even when the goal seems far away.”