There’s a lot of planning when it comes to creating a club, an event or activity at NSU. Vanessa Franco is the person who advises and supports the more than 100 organizations at NSU. She joined the Shark family in July and since then, she has helped NSU through leadership development, professional development, clarifications on how to engage and retain members on campus and, most importantly to her, making sure that everyone is involved in some way on campus.
“Being a part of an organization is being part of a group that you want to be able to gain that common interest [with],” Franco said.
She also helps oversee NSU’s Students Events and Activities Board in order to promote culture and diversity through day-time programs and night-time events. She has overseen some of the many student-run events like Weeks of Welcome, Sharkapalooza, Homecoming and Fin Fest. Additionally, her office oversees all of the events that organizations put on around campus, and Franco attends those events whenever she can.
Franco received her bachelor’s in psychology from Florida International University in 2013. However, she also realized that she also enjoyed learning about leadership development and how to be a proper leader, which she got a certificate for. Throughout her four years of study, she was a very active member of her university.
“I did a very typical kind of student involvement. I did orientation at one point, and I was a member of a sorority [Alpha Omicron Pi] as an undergraduate student, so I had a lot of leadership opportunity,” said Franco.
“I also played sports; playing soccer is one of my favorite things to do … It was a really great experience,” Franco said. “I was very proud of where I did undergrad and I relate to those who want to get involved on campus.”
Franco also graduated from the University of Central Florida with a master’s in educational leadership, specifically with the student personnel track. There, she prepared for leadership positions relating to student personnel administration in higher education and education-related fields.
“I did my masters in Orlando and stayed there for two years … but I really wanted to come back down to South Florida just because it’s kind of where you call home,” Franco said.
When she saw a position open at NSU for the assistant director of campus life and student engagement, she realized that a lot of it correlated with her passions and who she wanted to be.
“Every kind of thing that aligned with the position, aligned with what I wanted to instill in others,” she said. “I want to help students and [make them proud] of where they … help them get involved knowing that involvement leads to a lot of great connections, networking with others, leadership with students and more.”
Franco was born in the United States, but her parents are originally from Colombia. For her, “it’s nice to see the diverse communities that are at NSU and that I can relate to.” She believes her background has made her more enthusiastic in creating a more diverse community.
“I really think that learning about what makes up a person, whether it’s their culture or whether is knowing what can they bring to society, is important,” said Franco. “Seeing the different types of cultures that make up what NSU has kind of brings everybody together … and knowing that we are a diverse supported community.”