By Lyndsey Peace, Editor-in-Chief
This fall, Stacey Martin has officially transitioned from being the dean of student engagement to the vice president of student life. Martin has a long history at Hardin-Simmons University, and the overall time she has worked at HSU — 22 years so far — is a testament to how much she loves the university and the connections she has made here.
Martin attended HSU as an undergraduate student and graduated with a Bachelor of Behavioral Science in exercise science.
During her time as an undergraduate student, she was deeply involved in Stampede leadership, serving as a team “mom” her sophomore year, a leader on steering committee her junior year and then finally a co-director her senior year. Martin even has her original freshman beanie hanging up in her office, which will be 30 years old in the fall of 2021.
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Martin moved to the Metroplex area to work in a management position at a fitness center. However, Martin did not particularly like the area and wanted to be closer to her family in Abilene. She worked at the fitness center for one year until a friend persuaded her to apply for a recruiting position at HSU, in which she was quickly accepted.
Since Martin first started as a recruiter at HSU in June of 1997, she has held many different positions, including director of admissions and recruiting, director of academic advising center, associate dean for student engagement, dean for student engagement, dean of students and now vice president of student life.
Also, since returning to HSU, she has earned her master’s degree in sports and recreation management and is currently working on her doctorate with hopes to graduate in May of 2020.
As far as her transition this semester from dean of student engagement to vice president of student life, Martin acknowledges there are ups and downs to her new job. “It’s a challenge. Some days are harder than others, but I love the people I work with and having the opportunity to lead student life and still get to work with students,” Martin said.
Working in higher education, one of her priorities throughout all of her positions at HSU has always been to get to know students, which has been a little more challenging in her new position. “My role now seems to be more administrative, so I have to work really hard to be present with the students,” Martin said.
When Martin does interact with students, she strives to be intentional and make meaningful connections with students from diverse backgrounds and interests. “I try to make sure that I recognize and acknowledge all students, not just a specific group. My responsibility is to make sure that the needs are met for all students and that we provide opportunities for all pockets of students,” Martin said.
One way Martin currently interacts with students is by teaching a FYSM class called “Simon Says Pursue Your Passion.” Outside of the class, she tries to attend choir concerts, band concerts and theater productions to support students she might not otherwise get to meet.
Most of all, Martin loves working at HSU because of her history here and the people she has met along the way while earning her undergraduate degree to her first job at HSU as a recruiter to her current job as vice president of student life. “Because I have a history at Hardin-Simmons, I love the connections. Now I’m working with students whose parents I went to school with,” Martin said.
Martin even has two former students — Coordinator of Student Activities Austin Hennesay and Coordinator for University Recreation Donavon Hailey — on her team as vice president of student life.
Martin also recognizes the value of working at a smaller private university where she is able to freely speak about her religion. “I love the relationships and connections that are built, and I love the ability to share my faith and be able to pray for students and with students in my office,” Martin said.
Martin is grateful for this freedom and has a hard time imagining herself in a similar student life position at a different university. “I don’t know if I would want to do this same role at a state school because I don’t know what that experience would be. I value the opportunity to share my faith and pray with students during the hard times or even during the good times and having the freedom to talk about God in conversations and even in the classroom,” Martin said.
Martin has made a wonderful impact on a countless number of students during her 22 years working at HSU due to her passionate drive to improve student life and her intentionality with students.