By Anna Petkovich '14Features Editor
For nearly six years, LaKisha Tillman, Hall Director and Student Activities Coordinator, has been an integral member of the Scripps College community. Yet she is modest about her level of significance to the women of Scripps: “As much as I pour into a student’s life, whether we sit down and have a conversation or in counseling or working on an A-Team project, I get so much more out of it. The students of Scripps have given me so much,” Tillman said.
Tillman joined the Scripps community as senior secretary to former Dean of Students Debra Wood, who soon became her mentor. After two years in this position Tillman, who had just finished her bachelor’s degree at Cal State San Bernadino, applied for an opening as a Hall Director at the suggestion of her fellow Scripps staff members. After getting the position, Tillman began to explore her interests.
After two years, she began a collateral position as Student Development Coordinator before switching to Student Activities. With student activities, said Tillman, “I found my niche. I love event planning… and working with student leadership and student government.” Currently she advises on-campus groups such as A-Team and Outdoor Women’s Leaders. She is also a mentor to Wanawake Weusi.
Considering Tillman’s integral role in the Scripps community, her decision to depart came to many as a surprise. As she explained, “I’ve counseled students to go on and move on… I had to learn that for myself.” Her decision has had a number of influences. At the beginning of the spring semester 2010 Tillman found herself battling a life-threatening illness. As she persevered, she established her goals: “I want to do something new and exciting, I want to be a director of student activities, I want to finish my master’s degree and I want to be able to travel.” When Dean Wood announced her departure last June to be Dean of Students at Northwestern in Qatar, she mentioned that the position of Student Activities Director was open. Tillman was inspired.
Inspired, but apprehensive. “I was shuffling my feet turning in my application. I was afraid of leaving Scripps. This is my home, I’ve learned and grown so much here,” said Tillman. With the supported of her husband, she applied for the position. And got it.
Tillman and her husband visited Northwestern in Qatar before she confirmed a contract with the school. The school is communications and journalism focused and will see its first graduating class this May. Tillman was inspired by the talent of the students at the school in Qatar, and their need for someone with a strong background in student activities. During her visit she committed to her position as Director of Student Activities and Orientation. Tillman will oversee the new student program and graduation, as well as plan the university’s service learning trips to various countries. She is departing in mid-February to immerse herself in Northwestern in Qatar, learn school policies and prepare for 2011-2012 Orientation.
Tillman is bittersweet about the venture. Although she is excited, parting with Scripps is a task done with tears. “The thing I will miss most about Scripps is students… I have a heart for students,” says Tillman. In addition, Tillman will miss colleagues, RAs and “home sweet home,” Frankel Hall which, she confessed, “is my favorite dorm! Don’t hate me for that!”
As for who may take on her current position, Tillman emphasized that “they have to have a heart for students,” in addition to good communication skills and ability to be a resource and a diplomat. In terms of the future of Scripps with respect to increased admittance rates, Tillman said, “It’s growing… We need more support services here, more staff.”
When asked about the impact she’s had on the Scripps community, Tillman contemplated for a while. “I hope people have learned some things, not just about me, but about themselves. My motto is “each one teach one.” I know I’ve learned so much from all of you. I hope you had a good time.”