Smith Undergrad Staff Spotlight
Kassandra Scarcia, Assistant Director and Academic Advisor, Undergraduate Programs
Kassandra Scarcia does not take no for an answer, and she has spent the majority of her life mentoring others to keep fighting, keep reaching, and keep on keeping. She is currently an assistant director and academic advisor for the undergraduate program at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business Shady Grove Campus, as well as a student affairs coordinator. But Kassy’s penchant for helping those around her go far beyond just her job title. From the minute she wakes up in the morning to the waning moments of each evening, she goes through each day making sure she has given herself to others, as a coach, as a mentor, and as a leader.
In October 2014, Kassy migrated from Boston, where she worked on the advising team at Harvard University, to UMD to work as an advisor with the economics department. Soon enough, a Smith advising position opened up in the Shady Grove office and Kassy jumped to the call. “The position with Smith was an opportunity to really grow as a higher education professional. At Shady Grove, I get to wear a lot of hats, and doing a lot of everything is what really intrigued me about this particular job.” Working as an advisor out of the Shady Grove location requires Kassy to be adaptive and flexible. She is one of only three staff members, and so each and every Shady Grove administrator must show that they are capable of being hybrid community leaders. Kassy is no exception, and she takes inspiration for continuing this juggling act from her students, who more than anyone, know full well the challenge of sustaining a multi-faceted yet purposeful lifestyle.
As Kassy was getting settled into her new advising role at Shady Grove, she was also rolling out her new life coaching business, called “Authentically Awakened Coaching.” Authentically Awakened Coaching is “a safe haven for millennial women to figure out the pieces of life after college and go from slump to success.” Kassy figured out how to transform her life experiences, dealing with the unpredictable zigs and zags of life, into a toolkit for others to utilize. Preparing for one’s career and future happens just as much outside the classroom than inside, if not more, and Kassy wants to be a holistic, fully-capable resource for her students and friends.
At this moment, Kassy is celebrating multiple milestones. It has been a little over a year since she began advising for Smith, and momentous changes are already afoot. With the help of Victor Mullins, associate dean of the undergraduate program at Smith, Kassy has helped create a Shady Grove equivalent of DSAC, or the Dean’s Student Advisory Council. She is continuously growing her role as a touchpoint for so many students, administrators and organizations under the UMD umbrella. As she celebrates a two-year anniversary of her life coaching business as well, Kassy admits that having these two new experiences running parallel to each other has been extremely mutually beneficial and rewarding. “Before, as an economics department advisor, when the year finished, I still didn’t really know my students by name. Now, as a Smith advisor, I sit around the table with my seniors and I know that we will stay in touch after graduation. We have had an impact on each other’s lives, and seeing them grow as students and as people reminds me that there is a greater purpose to my role as an advisor.”
More than anyone, Kassy embodies what it truly means to be a Terp; just like a terrapin, she is only able to move forward, and not backwards. Her intrepid attitude and resilience has allowed her to push further and further with each passing year, and grow her identity as an ultimate mentor. “I never want to wake up and say, ‘What if?’ And I really want encourage other people to refuse to be complacent, and refuse to wake up every morning and say, ‘What if?’” For Kassy, it’s about asking the right questions, and instead of “What if?” Kassy asks “Why not?”
It was a pleasure talking to Kassy about her experience and journey so far. She extends her gratitude to the Smith community and everyone that has helped her get to where she is now.
For more information about the undergraduate program at Smith, visit: www.rhsmith.umd.edu/undergrad.
- Philip Peker, Class of 2018