CUPA-HR Wildfire Program Participant Sarah Deitz – #Excited for Her Future in Higher Ed HR and the Association 
January 13, 2016

Six early-career higher ed professionals have been immersed for the past six months in all that is CUPA-HR and the profession. From attending CUPA-HR conferences, meetings and other learning events to cultivating relationships with senior higher ed HR leaders and CUPA-HR volunteer leaders to experiencing a “day in the work life” of their mentors and more, the six individuals in CUPA-HR’s 2015-16 Wildfire program have had plenty of opportunities to learn, grow and connect. (If you’re not familiar with the Wildfire program, read all about it!).

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be profiling this year’s Wildfire participants and hearing their stories firsthand. We hope you enjoy getting to know this dynamic group, as we have over the past few months — we think they’re destined for greatness, both in their careers and in CUPA-HR!

First up — Sarah Deitz from University of Louisville. Here’s Sarah’s story:

I’m Wildfire participant Sarah Deitz, EEO/employee relations specialist at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. I’ve been with the university for about two and a half years and have worked in my current position in human resources for a year — and what a year it has been!

Prior to my life in Kentucky, I attended law school, planning to focus on corporate contract law, but my plans changed after a summer externship with an alumna at a local community college. It was during this externship that I was tested to use what I learned in law school about compliance, due process, civil rights, etc. in the atmosphere of higher education, and I quickly realized that I wanted my career to be in higher education.

I came to the University of Louisville in 2013 and worked in student rights and responsibilities while obtaining a master’s degree in higher education administration, which I pursued with a goal of understanding more about the inner workings of the field. I treasured my position in student affairs, but wished to do more with compliance, Title IX, investigating and civil rights, which was why I moved to human resources — and I could not have wished to love it more than I do.

As thrilled as I was to make the move to my new position in HR, I knew that I had gaps that I needed to fill in order to give my department as much value as my department gives me each day, which is how I came upon CUPA-HR’s Wildfire program. My experience in HR when I applied for Wildfire was just three months, and I desired to learn more about the new department I was in and what each of my amazing colleagues does in their teams, what challenges my colleagues face, how compensation is done at the university, etc.

CUPA-HR and the Wildfire program have been an instrumental part of succeeding in my first year; I cannot be sure that I would love my job as much as I do without the experience I’ve had the past several months. I have had the opportunity to attend two CUPA-HR conferences where I felt as though I was in the middle of the most intellectual, inspiring, game-changing colleagues who were all willing to share their knowledge with me. I never left a conversation or a session without a takeaway that I know I will use in my future (not all fields are blessed with such obliging colleagues and it was wonderful to experience it so soon in my HR career!).

My year-long Wildfire experience is nearing its halfway point, and I am hungry for what the next six months will bring. I will spend my career being grateful for this experience, for my program guide Deborah Benton, for my CUPA-HR connections and for the friendships I’ve made with my fellow program participants.

To say I am anything less than “#excited” for my continued work with the people in this organization would be selling it far too short!