Hi there! 👋 I’m Alex and thanks for being here. Today’s blog post is my first(!) and a quick introduction to me and how I landed here at Nectir. I am a recent addition to the Nectir Team and thrilled to get to know the community. I believe in the power of story as a true connector of people — a good book, movie, tv show, song, even greeting card, can inspire connection — so I want to share my story with you.
My career has been characterized by a drive to help people and to continue learning. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Iowa State University in 2012 and worked in advertising after graduating. I quickly realized I desired more direct contact with people and that creative work wasn’t the right fit. After what I lovingly call my ‘quarter life crisis’, I chose to go back to school and pursue a master’s degree in student affairs counseling. What is that? Let me explain: think of all the people that helped you in school that were outside the classroom — all the counselors, advisors, financial aid and business folks — they are student affairs professionals. Essentially, I studied how to help others in school navigate and develop their personal selves alongside their academic selves.
While studying for my master’s, I also began my career in higher education. I landed a role in career services at University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) helping students find jobs. During this time, I also met my mentor (shoutout to Jaci) and ignited my passion for higher education and helping students find a sense of belonging. Belonging will be a recurring theme in this blog so stay tuned! Upon completing my master’s, I served in a variety of roles across UNO, particularly at the intersection of online learning, information technology, academic technology, and student affairs. I have experience with graduate and undergraduate recruitment, onboarding and retention of online students, executing training and development programs for faculty, building curriculum, developing and managing private partnerships, and all the technology in between. When the COVID pandemic turned the world sideways, I was on the front lines supporting students and faculty through the challenges the campus faced. It was this fist-hand experience that led me to Nectir. While I knew students struggled with belonging and community well before the pandemic, the drastic shift in support and infrastructure on campuses overnight illustrated the need for more student-focused and student-informed approaches to community building. And, while institutions are doing all the can to support students needs, the agility needed for this kind of innovation is stifled by the foundational structures that have held education steadfast for decades. It was time to take all the experience and knowledge I had gained and invest it in the agility and innovation education needs. Enter Nectir.
I fortuitously met Kavitta and Jordan at a conference in early 2022 and was excited by their grassroots approach to community building. A platform built by students for students was so refreshing. So many companies pitch a ‘tech solution’ to institutions without even understanding the real ‘problem’ to begin with. Kavitta and Jordan understood it because they lived it. And not only that, they designed Nectir for themselves — not for investors, or administrators, or press releases — for real students like them. I was impressed. A few months later, here we are!
All that said, my story is more than my education and my career. I live and work in Omaha, Nebraska with my partner, Alex (yes, we have the same name), and two cats, Aela and Tuppence, who regularly make appearances on my Zoom calls. My friends consider me the biggest Lord of Rings / Tolkien / New Zealand nerd and I love all things sci/fi fantasy. When not at my computer, I enjoying baking and creating things, and looking for willing recipients of the final products. I am also a PhD student in my third year; my research is focused on flexible work arrangements for staff in higher education during the pandemic and how that has affected morale and retention. If any of these things sound interesting, drop me a line! Fair warning though, I may get overly excited and talk your ear off :)
Lastly, there is a lot going on in the world right now and, if you’re like me, you might need a reminder of the good things happening too. To that end, I am writing from the airport today and have been thinking a lot about the opening scene from the 2003 film Love Actually:
“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around.”
Thanks for being here and I hope to hear your story next!