The School of Education has started a new feature spotlighting members of the faculty and staff. Ryan Mason talks about what he likes about connecting with the community as a university services associate in Student Services.
Q. What is your job for the School of Education?
A. I’m the service associate, so I work at the front desk for the Office of Student Services, which is where most of the advising happens. My role is to be the first voice or the first face for current or prospective students, parents and transfer students. My job is to direct them to the right place or the right resources, helping them navigate the School of Education, and the University at large. Sometimes I help them navigate the certification process. I’m kind of a shepherd.
Q. How long have you been at UWM?
A. One year, but I’m an alumnus and worked here when I was in school 10 years ago so I have a strong familiarity with campus. This position really feels natural. I love engaging with the undergrads, especially because they’re each unique and they all have interesting problems we can help with. I like being a problem solver.
Q. What was your undergraduate major?
A. Human Resources with a minor in journalism and mass communications. What I do now has a basis in what I studied. I manage people – particularly the student workers – and I use the communication style honed through the work I did through journalism and outside.
Q. What did you do before you came to UWM?
I worked in higher education (at the University of Wisconsin Law School) and also in entertainment. I was a working standup comic for about six years. I got paid for going onstage and telling jokes, which gave me confidence to talk to people. Then I had children and didn’t like being on the road so much.
Q. How old are your children?
A. The boys are age three and one. The one-year-old is easy compared to his brother right now.
Q. How did you happen to come back to UWM to work?
A. UWM is where I’ve wanted to be for a long time. We were living in Madison and my wife, who’s also in higher education, received an opportunity at MSOE (Milwaukee School of Engineering). It was a good move for our family. I was a stay-at-home Dad for awhile, doing comedy, guest relations for Miller-Coors and working for Milwaukee Food Tours. My life has changed in the last year and half from having a very unstructured lifestyle to a much more structured lifestyle, which I was craving.
Q. And, you are also a student in the School of Education?
A. Yes, I’m working on my Master’s in Administrative Leadership with a focus on Adult and Continuing Higher Education Administration.
Q. Are you going to school full time?
A. Right now, it’s part-time. There aren’t enough hours in the day for work and family and full-time school. I’d like to be done by 2020.
Q. Where do you and your family live?
A. We live in Riverwest and really love the neighborhood. It’s all UWM people near me. My next-door neighbor is retired from UWM. I’m a biker and am able to commute to work on my bike or on the bus.
Q. Do you have other hobbies besides biking?
A. My focus is on work, family and school so I don’t have much time for hobbies though I am a huge basketball fan. I was a season ticketholder for UWM for many years. I’ll watch anything related to basketball.
Q. What is your long-term goal?
A. I’d like to expand my role on campus to be able to affect as many people as possible. I feel like I’m a leader informally now because I have to be, but I’d like to prepare to be a leader in a more formal role in a department.