Hastings College alum returns to campus

Local4 News at 5
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 8:31 PM CDT
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - Hastings College has a new Dean of Student Engagement, and this person is familiar with campus.

Sophia McDermott has assumed the role. She’s a South Dakota native, but attended and played basketball at Hastings College from 2008-2012. Previously, she was Dean of Student Life at Presentation College in Aberdeen, SD.

As a Hastings College alum, she says she’s excited about returning because she loved her experience along with the education she received and the community of Hastings. She feels like Hastings College has a lot to offer in opportunities for students, and she wants to be a part of that. In her short time as Dean, she has enjoyed getting to meet students on campus, and she plans to encourage students to get out of their shell and join clubs.

“I met a lot of great people from there,” McDermott said. “A lot of great networking opportunities, some of my best friends for life, so I think just being able to encourage students, to be able to branch out and meet new people, try new things and really grow as a person is something that I’m excited about.”

McDermott said getting involved in activities outside of her sport was a goal of hers at Hastings College, and she plans on making connections with current students in the process. She added that each year students have different likes and needs, and it’s important to be able to change with them. As Dean of Student Engagement, she’s involved with everything student related outside of the classroom. She also has a variety of experience that prepared her for her current role.

“I’ve been able to move around a lot, but I think that’s really important to gain that knowledge from each area so I can understand what my department does and how it relates to everybody else and be able to provide support for students,” McDermott said.

She also wants to be visible to students, by walking around campus and going to activities. She said it’s also possible that she’ll engage in some activities. As a former athlete, the competitive juices are still flowing for her, so she won’t shy away from any intramural activities she can get involved in. For her, it’s all about building a relationship between services and students.

“Honestly the campus when I walked on was gorgeous, the campus was beautiful,” she said. “Also, everybody was so welcoming to me and very nice, and I was excited about all the opportunities they provided through education and outside of that and just the atmosphere and the culture when I walked on campus was really inviting.”

McDermott said Hastings College still has the same welcoming atmosphere, but for some students attending the school is about family legacy.

“What led me here to Hastings College, not only the professors here were very nice, but also my family members came here,” said Janison Majors, a junior at Hastings College. “I wanted to keep on the family line and be the first of my family to graduate in this college.”

Majors is a Superior native and studying Elementary Education. She said the school makes students feel welcome by having a two-week program called “Welcome Home.” It gives students important campus advice and a chance to meet new people.