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In the Spotlight: MPACE Perspectives
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MPACE Member Spotlight – January 2016



 Featuring Denise Khaw, University of California, Irvine


MPACE offers the Future Leaders Scholarship (FLS) Program annually to provide current graduate students and new professionals a direct connection to experience career services/university recruiting hands-on. As part of this month’s “MPACE Perspectives” theme we interviewed the recipient of this year’s award, Denise Khaw, to learn about her experience and perspective as a new professional.


MPACE: Please tell us about your professional background and/or professional goals.

Denise: I have over 7 years of experience in Residential Life management at both private and public institutions throughout California and Hawaii. This past February, I decided I wanted to try a different division of student affairs. I returned to my undergraduate alma mater and now work at the University of California, Irvine - Career Center as the Employer Outreach Specialist. I have found tremendous success connecting with employers and am on track to provide consultation with over 200 employers in my first year in the position. I am looking forward to growing within career services and would like to, one day, hold a leadership role within employer relations.


MPACE: Was this your first MPACE Conference?  As the conference grew closer, what were you most excited, curious or anxious about?

Denise: Yes, this was my first MPACE conference. I was so honored to win the Future Leaders Scholarship award. It’s so wonderful to be recognized for my achievements as a new professional in career services. The FLS award provided me the opportunity to present at the conference, which was exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. I was excited to present but a little nervous that folks wouldn’t be interested in my presentation topic. There were so many great presentations to pick from. I was thrilled (and so thankful) that our presentation was packed with conference attendees. Overall, I was excited to make meaningful connections with colleagues and employers. And of course, I was delighted to go to Disneyland!


MPACE: Denise, as the 2015 MPACE Future Leaders Scholarship winner can you tell us a bit about your project?

Denise: Part of the Future Leaders Scholarship application process is to submit an innovative presentation proposal.  At the time when the FLS application went live, there was a lot of talk on campus about UC Irvine soon receiving designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution. When I applied for the FLS, I submitted my presentation proposal on best practices and recommendations on how to serve and support first generation and underrepresented students. When I was notified that I won the FLS award, I started connecting with colleagues at other Hispanic Serving Institutions in our MPACE region so I could learn about their best practices and recommendations. All of the contacts I reached out to were so warm and friendly about sharing what their career centers and institutions did to help support their underrepresented students. This information sharing and collegial support really laid the foundation for my presentation format - it was a balance of sharing best practices and collaborating with colleagues to create new, innovative services to support our underrepresented students.

MPACE: What did you feel was the most impactful or beneficial aspect of the MPACE 2015 Conference in Anaheim? 
Denise: I really appreciated the networking opportunities at MPACE. It was so beneficial being able to meet colleagues in my region, learn about their institutions, their positions and to hear about their experiences in career services. It was really interesting to learn about people’s experiences because they varied tremendously based on the management/ leadership team, the student demographics and the institution. The employers and vendors also did a great job of creating networking opportunities for us.


MPACE: As a newer professional, what advice would you like to share with your peers or those interested in entering this field?

Denise: For those of you who are new to career services or are interested in entering the field, I highly recommend that you seek out a mentor who is willing to speak with you regularly about the work you’re doing, ways in which you can improve your work, and provide insight and guidance on how to become a leader within career services. Career services is small niche where everyone knows each other. If you can find a mentor who has been in the field for a while, they will become a wealth of knowledge for you. And if you can’t find a mentor, do informational interviews with folks so you can build your network and learn from your colleagues. Another great way to build your network is to get involved in an MPACE committee.


Denise Khaw is the Employer Outreach Specialist at the University of California, Irvine. She can be reached at dkhaw@uci.edu. You can also find her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ddkhaw


For more information on the MPACE Future Leaders Scholarship visit this page
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