Meet the Candidates: Assistant Director of Student Development, Part One 

By Max Robinette, Associate Editor

La Roche students met a candidate for the Assistant Director of Student Development position in Bold Hall on Thursday, March 17.

This was the third of four such meetings. The meetings provided students an opportunity to ask the final candidates questions about their experience and vision regarding student development at La Roche.

Abby Gontis hails from Somerset County.

She earned her bachelor’s from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

As an undergrad, Gontis worked campus jobs and organized school activities. She worked as an event planner, campus tour guide, and orientation leader. She was also active in student government and Greek Life.

“I was practically involved in everything,” Gontis said. “If you came to campus, it wouldn’t be long until you ran into me.”

After graduation, she worked at the University of Toledo, developing new student orientation programs for incoming students. Here, she gained experience incorporating both local and international students to American campuses.

Gontis is finishing her MA in Student Affairs in Higher Education at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She currently works in the school’s Admissions Office and supervises more than 30 people.

Among her accomplishments, she once organized a camp for young children on the Pitt-Johnstown campus. The camp lasted a week and involved over 400 kids.

“I did everything–scheduling time slots, programming, sign-ups, overseeing counselors, and problem-resolution work. It was a big project,” she said.

At La Roche, Gontis says there’s an opportunity to bring commuters into campus life. She gives the idea of a campus treasure hunt as an example.

“Easy, interactive student programming that aims to engage nonresident students. Informal events. We can provide those campus experiences, but you don’t have to come back to campus at 9 o’clock at night in order to participate,” Gontis said.

The candidate also sees La Roche’s international student population as an asset for the school. She points out that diversity and different cultural backgrounds are tools that can engage the whole community.

Gontis currently lives in Indiana, PA. On a personal note, she loves Polish food and attending her hometown’s fall Maple Fest.

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