For this month’s spotlight, I decided to interview Nanette Phillips who is our new Student Support Coordinator in Santa Fe. The role of Student Support Coordinator was recently funded by a donor to serve underrepresented students on campus and I enjoyed being able to get to know Nanette and learn more about her role on campus.
GC: How did you first learn about St. John’s?
NP: Well, I went to undergrad at Colorado College and I was studying literature so it was always in my peripheral.
GC: Oh, so you majored in literature?
NP: Yeah, well I studied literature and creative writing and pre medicine, I don’t know why. But I think because I studied literature and I’m kind of a bookworm in general I’m able to really resonate with the premise of the program and the commitment to delving into these great works.
GC: So what are your favorite books on the program?
NP:Hmm.. off the top of my head I really like Dante. In college I took a class on Dante and Michael Angelo and we read the whole Divine comedy and went to Italy so I think probably Inferno.
GC: What about off program books? Any favorites or good ones you’ve read recently?
NP: I really love the book I’m reading right now. It’s called Emergent Strategy and it’s by an author named Adrienne Maree Brown and she’s a black, queer writer who writes non-fiction and sci-fi. She describes this kind of looking to the natural world and how systems and patterns coalesce and form and how nature is so incredibly well orchestrated. Really it’s about how humans can organically coalesce into cohesive movements and societies. So yeah it’s cool because it taps into my nature lover side.
GC: Sounds like good stuff. Now, to kind of side track here, you have a new position that was just created so can you explain what your role is and what your goals are with it?
NP: Yeah, it’s a brand new position and it was funded by a donor and I think that what I’m trying to do with this position is really lay the foundation for more robust diversity inequity initiatives in the college and insure that all international, first gen, and students from more diverse backgrounds are getting all that they need to really succeed at St. John’s. We are already working on this but obviously we still have a ways to go. Ultimately, we just want to make sure everyone feels comfortable and supported in this environment.
GC: So this year we’re online and I’m just wondering how you think this affects your role?
NP: Since I’ve just started, this is all I’ve ever known, truly. It’s kind of weird because I haven’t gotten to meet a majority of the students and as you can imagine students are really needing a lot of support right now. Nationwide mental health challenges are on the rise because of Covid and St. John’s is no exception so finding creative ways to provide community and build authentic connection on zoom is not easy but it’s not impossible. It’s been a challenge but one that I feel we’ve met.
As a student I can say that in the midst of all the chaos that’s been going on all around us, it’s nice to know we have such caring and creative staff on campus like Nanette to support us. And it’s exciting to see how eager Nanette is to help facilitate healthy changes to the St. John’s community whether it be virtually or on campus.