Using campus career prospects as a tool for success

Neil Bourgeois / Larshell Green

Neil Bourgeois has chosen to take on campus roles that will expand his skills for a future career in student affairs.

Originally a music major, Bourgeois decided to study communication in spring 2015 because of a lack of undergraduate degrees in student affairs. Little did he know, the major that he once considered a placeholder would increase his knowledge in the subject area that he craved to have  knowledge of.

“The knowledge that I have in leadership because of my organizational communication classes and the writing/oral classes have all helped me tremendously,” said Bourgeois. “In practically every field, it helps to be an effective communicator. This is vital in the field of student affairs.”

Bourgeois’ inspiration for a career in student affairs came from witnessing Dr. Pamela Rault’s decisions as a Director of Student Engagement. Bourgeois’ uncertainty of his success as a music education major prompted him to search for new career options.

“She introduced to me the career and when I knew I could get paid to work with student organizations I was hooked,” said Bourgeois. “Since then, I have had many different experiences working in Southeastern’s Division for Student Affairs department. I know my interest is in student engagement and orientation/first year experience offices.”

The senior communication major currently serves as the Student Government Association’s Chief of Staff and is a Leadership Development Student Specialist in the Office of Student Engagement.

Although he is tasked with multiple responsibilities, he views his workload as an opportunity to inspire the students and faculty members that he works alongside.

“You really just get to interact with students and show them the importance of getting involved,” said Bourgeois.

In the Office of Student Engagement, Bourgeois engages in various responsibilities during his position such as: distributing Scantrons, participating in leadership meetings and planning campus events.

In spring 2017, Bourgeois was selected to become a member of the Undergraduate Fellows Program, a prestigious program that is sponsored by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

According to Bourgeois, then Director of the Office of Student Engagement Dr. Rault,

assisted in the application process for the program in 2017. The program requires that applicants apply as mentor/mentee pair. Student applicants were required to be part of one of the following minority groups: race, sexual orientation or disability.

Bourgeois explains that since he is both gay and a first generation college student, he qualified as an applicant.

Some of the benefits of being a NUFP Fellow has been free membership to NASPA, access to their research database and an application to be a summer intern for Texas A&M University’s office of New Student and Family Programs. During the internship this past summer, Bourgeois assisted in summer orientation events and created publications for family programs.

Missouri State University’s campus will soon become home for Bourgeois when he begins striving to earn his Master’s degree in Student Affairs and Higher Education next fall. After choosing from three graduate schools, Bourgeois chose to attend Missouri State because of the campus environment.

“I knew it was the right place for me,” said Bourgeois. “It may sound silly, but when I was walking on campus I had the same feeling I did when I stepped on Southeastern’s campus for Lion Pride Preview, it just felt right.”

Those who witness Bourgeois in action are inspired by his work ethic.

Assistant Director of Student Engagement Kyle Gallagher described his admiration for the work that Bourgeois has done under his guidance.

“Neil is a very passionate student worker who really goes above and beyond his role,” said Gallagher. “He takes to heart the idea of helping students succeed.”

Senior political science major Sheryl Davis works for the offices of Student Advocacy and Accountability and the Office of Student Engagement. When Davis met Bourgeois in spring 2017, she immediately noticed his thirst for his responsibilities on campus.

“Neil is a hardworker,” said Davis. “He’s focused and dedicated to the job. He gets it done. He’s a worker bee.”

At Missouri State University, Bourgeois plans to get hands on experience during a graduate assistantship in the Office of Student Engagement. He will work with the university’s spirit programs and advise their Traditions Council and Homecoming Committee. He shares what he expects to learn during his time at the university.

“I am most excited to learn all about the history and theories that are apart of student affairs,” said Bourgeois. “It is interesting to me to see how the field grew and how important it is to know where a student is in their developmental stage.”

As a former university Orientation Leader, Division for Student Affairs Ambassador and alum member of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, Bourgeois shares a word of advice for students that may be interested in getting more involved within campus departments.

“Things can get hard when you add classes, things you’re involved with and your job in a campus office,” said Bourgeois. “As long as you prioritize and organize, it’s very doable.”


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