By Juliann Guiffre
Dr. Karen Violanti sat at her computer browsing job sites. She had just graduated from SUNY at Buffalo and received her PhD in Counselor Education, which she knew would open up more opportunities for her.
“I saw this position at McDaniel online, and something really hit me,” she said. “I thought ‘this could be the one’.”
Violanti applied to be the Assistant Dean for First Year Students and visited the school in July. She was comforted by the friendly people, and knew she had made the right choice.
“I knew this was where I was meant to be. I loved the welcoming feeling of a small community and everyone here has been tremendously supportive,” she said.
Violanti is replacing Dr. Sarah Stokely, who is now the Associate Dean of Student Academic Life. Before coming to McDaniel, Violanti had worked with the First Year Enrichment Program (FYE) at the Rochester Institute of Technology for eight years.
She was part of the original staff that implemented the program in 2000, and has been fortunate to watch it “grow from the ground up,” she said.
The FYE program at Rochester is similar to the First Year Seminar here at McDaniel, expect it is a strictly transition-based class, focusing on time management, stress management, and integrating into the school socially as well as academically.
The program also used “FYE coaching” to give their students further individual attention.
“The first year is a balance between chaos and peace, and it’s so relative and so individual to each person,” said Violanti, who really liked the fact that McDaniel’s first year team is a collaboration of so many aspects of college life?”student affairs, academics?all the pieces work together.”
Before Rochester, Violnati was a high school guidance counselor at a private school in Buffalo and a public school in Chautauqua County. She has lived in New York all her life, and has known of her affinity for counseling since middle school.
“My middle school counselor had a real influence on me, I always felt very comfortable in that role. I think it’s something you’re born with,” said Violanti.
She grew up in a small suburb of Buffalo called Checktowaga, and attended Maryvale High School. Despite her first influences coming from a middle school guidance counselor, Violanti quickly realized her passion would lie in higher education, particularly within the transitional aspects.
“I liked working with the seniors and helping them prepare to go to college, but I really loved the college setting,” she said.
“Working on a college campus is so great, there’s no other environment like it. You meet new people every day and there are so many opportunities to be creative.”
During her first year, Violanti wants to focus on getting to know the community and students, to try to understand what their needs are and really integrate herself into the school.
“I’m looking forward to working with the peer mentor program, to support them in the classroom and work some of my strengths and skills into the training,” she said.
Violanti was at her old job until July 31st, when she packed up her whole life and moved from upstate New York to eastern Maryland. She started work at McDaniel the very next Monday.
“Things happened pretty fast,” she said “But from what I’ve seen, this is going to be a wonderful experience.”