CUPA-HR Wildfire Participant Andrea Alfano Credits Program With Helping Her Gain Confidence in Her New HR Role
February 22, 2017

Thanks to CUPA-HR's Wildfire program, six early-career higher ed HR professionals have been immersed for the past seven months in all that is CUPA-HR and the profession. Over the coming weeks, we'll be profiling this year's Wildfire participants and hearing their stories firsthand. We've already heard from Kristina Gravellese, David Elliott and Katryn Stewart. Here, we'll meet Andrea Alfano.

I'm Andrea Alfano, and I serve as human resources coordinator for athletics at Georgia State University. My path to a career in higher ed HR was unplanned, but a very welcomed surprise. About a year ago, my boss, the director of athletics, took me to lunch and told me that the current HR coordinator for our department was announcing her retirement, and he wanted me to replace her. I hadn't considered a career in HR before that moment, but at the time, much of my job as an administrative assistant in the department included assisting with HR functions - so it wasn't exactly a stretch. I jumped at the opportunity, and I officially transitioned into the HR coordinator role last month.

I've always been involved in sports, and my goal was to make a career out of it. My first opportunity was an internship in community relations with the San Diego Chargers. After that, I worked as a community responsibility intern with the San Antonio Spurs. With both teams, I learned just how important the athletes' college careers were to them. I was fascinated, and decided to further pursue this idea of the student-athlete experience. I went back to school and earned a master's in intercollegiate athletic leadership from the University of Washington. This uniquely-designed program focused on athletics within higher education. Though I didn't know HR would be in my future at the time, I knew I was in the right industry.

I was introduced to CUPA-HR when a colleague brought me to a Georgia Chapter Symposium, and it was there that I learned about the Wildfire program. As a very early career HR professional, Wildfire was my chance to dive right into this field. Once I was accepted into the program, I was immediately exposed to the vast network of CUPA-HR leadership. I met my five remarkable cohort members, our instrumental program facilitators Mark Coldren and Ashleigh Dillon, and my Wildfire guide Donna Popovich. This supportive and inclusive CUPA-HR community has been so influential in my growing career.

The Wildfire program is exciting to me because of the people involved. To me, HR is about positively serving the people we work with, and Wildfire has taught me how to do just that! Wildfire surrounded me with dedicated and intelligent individuals who gave me the opportunity to explore areas of higher ed HR I was curious about, such as joining in on public policy committee conference calls. These same people challenge me to dig deeper in our monthly topic-of-interest calls, to have a voice at CUPA-HR conferences, and to be more effective in my role at Georgia State.

Being a part of this group has given me confidence to take a more transformational approach to my career, and this experience has provided me with amazing resources and life-long friendships within my Wildfire family and CUPA-HR as a whole.