Director of Graduate Studies Goes Extra Mile, Sees Enrollment Nearly Double Yearly

Director of Graduate Studies Goes Extra Mile, Sees Enrollment Nearly Double Yearly

Director of Graduate Studies Goes Extra Mile, Sees Enrollment Nearly Double Yearly Callale Cierra has always been the type of person who does more than what's asked of her. So when she found out she would be the sole employee in the Graduate Division at UC Merced, she wasn't flustered. "There were definitely some challenges," she said of the first year "But it's positively not a stagnant environment. At every moment, we have a choice. I think that if you have a positive attitude you can't fail." As director of graduate admissions and recruitment, she has seen the number of students choosing UC Merced to further their education nearly double every year. In 2006-2007, about 40 new graduate students are attending UC Merced. "I can't stress how important graduate students are to this campus in terms of their contributions in making UC Merced a vital university," she said. "They become our future leaders, engaging in innovation, research and scholarship and press existing knowledge to new understanding." But making leaders takes a lot of resolve, especially working alone. On a given day, Cierra may attend meetings with faculty, staff and students; clarify policy and procedures; update the Web site; input data; write content for recruitment materials; plan next year's marketing strategy or network with others to improve graduate student quality of life. Raised in San Francisco, Cierra is a first-generation college graduate like many of UC Merced's undergraduate and graduate students. "I shattered the proverbial glass ceiling in my family," she said of her achievement in obtaining a master's degree. Before coming to UC Merced, Cierra worked at California State University, Stanislaus' Graduate School. When she was first hired there, she was one of two in the department, and when she left six years later the staff had grown to nine. "I know what it takes to be the only person and do more than I am asked," she remembered. Cierra enjoyed working at CSU Stanislaus and wasn't looking for a job. But when a friend mentioned that the position at UC Merced was "written for her," she saw it as a great opportunity and was encouraged by colleagues to apply. "Being at the beginning has its ups and downs," Cierra said, "but change for the better requires effort."

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