Wildfire Program Has Helped Reaffirm HR as a Career for Participant Clarity White
March 8, 2017

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

My first awareness of human resources came during college. While trying to settle on my major, I found my niche with management classes — I discovered I really enjoyed them. By the time I was finishing my master's degree in HR however, I wasn't entirely sure if I would love the work of HR as much as I loved the study of it. Also, I'll admit to already having altruistic thoughts of being an advocate for the employee and was apprehensive of a job that would pin me into being just a monitor for the employer.

Coming out of school in 2004 I found myself over-educated and under-experienced. I wasn't getting calls to interview for entry-level HR jobs. Fortunately, a great position came along in higher ed. I worked for both the University of Idaho and the University of Washington before joining the University of Arizona in 2009, where I currently serve as HR coordinator for the School of International Languages, Literatures and Culture. My work spans a number of typical HR functions, as well as academic matters such as promotion and tenure, faculty recruitment and supervising employees who work in non-HR functions. Additionally, I have the pleasure of being a part of a very diverse group of people, which enriches my work on a daily basis.

Through a very conscious decision-making process, I moved into this HR position after serving in a variety of positions in higher ed. I knew that my years of experience were valuable, yet I anticipated some potential gaps in my HR skill set. Being chosen for CUPA-HR's Wildfire program has helped me to rapidly bring my HR skills more in line with my overall years of experience. It has given me the community I didn't know I was seeking, as well as a strong sense of belonging. With the beauty of hindsight, I can see that I have settled into HR at a great time - a time when HR is reinventing itself to truly be a player at the table and not so much an afterthought.

The Wildfire program and the truly supportive community within CUPA-HR have helped me both personally and professionally, as I now have confidence that HR is the right place for me. And thanks to CUPA-HR, I have gained a deeper sense of purpose at work through the rich connections within our Wildfire cohort and the broader industry leaders across the nation.

To CUPA-HR, my Wildfire cohort, Wildfire mentors and all the members I've met — I truly can't thank you enough! It has been and continues to be an amazing opportunity to participate in this program, and I am eager to begin giving back to CUPA-HR for years to come.