Counselor, Stamford Campus
After nearly seven years as an adviser for the Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) program at the UConn-Stamford campus, Lisa Siebert is still amazed at the extraordinary people walking through door.
“From time to time I’ll meet a student who stands out above and beyond, in terms their personal goals,” she said, recalling a prospective student she met earlier in the day for a short morning meeting that effortlessly lasted a full hour. “He’s somebody who’s going be very successful and make an impact on the world around him. I was so impressed.”
“To meet someone like that is so incredible,” she added.
Siebert’s career has taken her from the business world to the halls of UConn. After earning a BA in American Studies at Franklin & Marshall College and an MBA at Emory University, she worked in business, specializing in marketing research. Eventually she enrolled at Fairfield University to earn an MA in Community Counseling. “It was time to move on to the next opportunity,” she said. “I’d always thought about it and it was time to go back to school and continue on with my career quest.” She then gained experience working at Norwalk Community College and running her own private career counseling business.
She feels that her experiences in the business world were excellent preparation for her current role, as many of the skills utilized were applicable to other settings. She was able to work initially in academia in a college setting. “I liked solving the puzzle of how to get from entry to final completion,” she said. “And I loved the career counseling aspect of it as a piece of that puzzle, and how it all worked together with everybody’s particular interests, skills, values and work habits.”
With typical BGS students, Siebert helps smooth the way to graduation. “You help advise and counsel them making sure everything is in place,” she said. The experience can be more complicated for the Stamford campus’ larger than average international BGS student population, who face time-consuming paperwork in addition to their required course work. “It’s hard on the student to get everything done,” Siebert said. “However, most of the international students come here prepared. They really know what they need to do to get finished.”
She remains in contact with some of her past international BGS students. She paused to consider one of her more remarkable advisees, whose achievements continue to inspire Siebert’s admiration. “She came from a really difficult situation and she’s making the most of what she has,” Siebert said. “Those are the most rewarding experiences. It is so inspiring to meet students like her; they make the job so personally rewarding.”
In addition to her work as a BGS advisor and service on various UConn campus advisory committees, Siebert has been able to use her counseling skills in the Stamford community; helping Fairfield County residents realize their potential in the private sector. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Women’s Mentoring Network Inc. (WMN), a grassroots non-profit organization devoted to economically empowering low-income women by getting them into school or the workforce. In addition to career, educational, and personal counseling, the network also helps women and their families succeed through adult education, literacy, and youth programs.
Siebert initially served WMN clients solely as a career counselor. Her role has evolved during her twenty years with the network, especially as her own employment edged closer to the academic world. “I can help advise and counsel these women as they progress through school,” she explained. “Being a part of UConn is a wonderful opportunity for direct communication and provides a way to better serve the women in the program.
She is always searching for new avenues to improve lives by linking education to better job opportunities. “I’m hopefully going to be a part of a group called the Women’s Business Development Center [WBDC], a program in the Stamford community that also helps women in terms of getting funding for their jobs, or for programs or maybe a company that they want to start,” she said. The WBDC, a non-profit organization with Southwestern Connecticut and Naugatuck Valley offices, provides entrepreneurial or professional development training, depending on which path best suits an individual applicant. Women come to the organization from a wide variety of backgrounds and range from clients with limited education to experienced professionals leaving the corporate world.
“I’d like to look out for some other opportunities as well,” Siebert added. “There are a lot of wonderful services in the community that could be helpful for our student population.”