Curating your Toolkit

May 16, 2022
  • Professional Development and Contributions to the Field
  • AACRAO LEAD
  • ascend
Red tool box full of tools on wooden bench.

This week we met with AACRAO Member Ria Woods-White, Associate Registrar-Operations, at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Ms. Woods-White shared details about her background, experience in the ASCEND program, and the unique perspective she has working at one of the largest aeronautics institutions in the United States. 

Ms. Woods-White's 22 years of experience across a variety of roles in the higher ed space gives her a vast well of experience to draw upon as she works through the ASCEND curriculum and finds ways to utilize the strategies and practices that may not always be a perfect fit for her specific situation. 

This is the first time I've really been getting my hands dirty with this type of data. And using this type of information to take a strategic view of how we go about seeking out enrolling and retaining students for our special needs. The thing about Embry-Riddle is we're aviation-oriented. We have a very unique market and a unique niche in which to reach out to students.

They obviously have to have a passion for aviation. We do have programs that aren't so aviation entrenched that could be attractive to some students. We just have to be very nuanced in our approach.

Ms. Woods-White went on to describe the global footprint of her institution (120 learning centers worldwide) and the specific challenges that arise from an enrollment management perspective in reaching the right students in vastly different markets.

Creating the Toolkit

Moving into the specifics of her ASCEND curriculum and the pieces that have helped her Ms. Woods-White particularly espoused the personal development components the cohort recently worked on saying:

This has helped me most in my journey through ASCEND. The foundation that I have has been very critical to the success that I'm having in ASCEND. What I most recently appreciated is this piece called Strength Finders, which looks at my background and learning to understand ourselves and how we relate, and how we relate to others.

We paired up with partners out of the program to talk about what we appreciated most about our strengths, what we didn't appreciate about our strengths, and then we talked about strengths that we wish we had. Just acknowledging maybe some wishes that I had for myself and where others thought they were deficient as well.

It's not just about creating a plan, but really understanding how you fit in your role at your institution and lending that toward an ultimate game plan for the university.

As with other ASCEND members, the relationship and support Ms. Woods-White receives from her coach is a critical component of the program. She enjoys the "as-needed" hands-off approach and being allowed the space to grow and learn in her own style.

When I need help, I can go to them and say, "Hey, this is what I need, this is what I'm where I'm short, this is where I need support". And they've been the same kind of way. So it's been very comforting in a sense. I'm just so happy that I have someone who has a tremendous amount of experience in higher education to share and kind of critique and offer guidance.

Concluding, Ms. Woods-White encouraged other members to consider the ASCEND program saying:

It has to be something that they're, they're passionate about it or have great interest in. But it's been a great program. I'm glad that I took the opportunity to make that application and was accepted into the program.

AACRAO members interested in learning more about AACRAO’s ASCEND program, want to get involved, or are curious about the process should visit our Signature Initiative page and join the list to stay updated on news about the program.

About the ASCEND Program

The ASCEND Program prepares mid-level professionals in the competencies required to take the next step in enrollment management leadership. The year-long intensive program seeks to:

  • advance the careers of program participants and provide them with important professional development;

  • help AACRAO and regional associations develop a “deep bench” of talented, motivated leaders from diverse backgrounds; and

  • provide individuals from identified under-represented groups in the association community (i.e., people of color, lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender people, people with disabilities) with support, access, and leadership opportunities.

The curriculum design incorporates AACRAO Professional Competencies and Proficiencies and leverages AACRAO's existing professional development opportunities.