Student Affairs Podcast: Student Advisory Board

You can now listen to the latest episode of “Conversations with Student Affairs,” the podcast managed by the Student Affairs team at Penn State World Campus in collaboration with our many colleagues and partners across the University’s Student Affairs teams.

Title: Student Advisory Board

Participating guests: Jonathan Monk, Student Advisory Board member 

Summary: Ever wonder how student voices can have impact at World Campus? Penn State Online MBA student Jonathan Monk shares his experience on the World Campus Student Advisory Board.

Transcript for podcast episode: Student Advisory Board

Three interesting or helpful takeaways from this episode:

Any World Campus student is welcome on the Student Advisory Board. “There’s 30 of us on this board, and it’s all different people from different programs, which is really great,” says Jonathan.

There are opportunities for students with all different strengths and interests. The Student Advisory Board consists of several committees, each of which has a specific focus area. There are a variety of roles involved in each committee, so everyone can contribute in a way that best highlights their abilities.

Participation on the Student Advisory Board doesn’t require a huge time commitment. World Campus students are busy people with a lot on their schedule, and the SAB structure recognizes that. “Right now, we have two meetings, and these are two-hour meetings every month,” Jonathan says. “One is the board as a whole, and the other one is the committee.”

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Podcast Transcript: Student Advisory Board


JEN TOOF: Hello, welcome to Conversations with Student Affairs. I am your host, Jen Toof, and our guest today is Jonathan Monk. Jonathan, you were a member of our student advisory board. Could you take a moment to introduce yourself to our listeners?

JONATHAN MONK: Hi, yes. My name is Jonathan Monk. I am a third-semester MBA, online MBA student at the World Campus Program. I’m also an entrepreneur and have been running and investing in startups for the last 10 years.

JEN TOOF: Sounds really exciting.

JONATHAN MONK: Yeah, it’s pretty interesting space to be doing that with an MBA is trouble. Troubling at times, but World Campus has made it easier for me.

JEN TOOF: I did my MBA at my Alma mater, and I did focus on sport and recreation management to get that coaching aspect to connect with student affairs. So I kind of went the coaching aspect in that business part of that. So I really appreciate when I come across another person in an MBA program.

JONATHAN MONK: Yeah, it’s a great program. I mean, I was always going to get my master’s, but the MBA was a special one, so. I felt like it was worth it to do, so.

JEN TOOF: Awesome, thanks, Jonathan. So I should also tell our listeners as well. I am losing my voice a little bit, so if I go in and out throughout our episode, just bear with me. And so, I’m going to get into our first segment, Jonathan, if that’s OK. We call it our if you could segment. And I think this is one of those really important questions to think back if you could give yourself a piece of advice when you first started taking classes at World Campus, what would that be?

JONATHAN MONK: I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned is how to structure the workload. This is obviously going to come from an MBA perspective. Everyone’s program is different, but.


JONATHAN MONK: With World Campus, you are responsible for yourself. So if there’s night classes that you can’t do, you might have to do work on the weekends or take a class later. So the biggest thing that I learned, and it took me about two months to figure this out, is every Sunday I go through and at the MBA program we have a week. Week blocks to complete every group of assignments.

So I go through on Sunday, and I map out each day what I’m going to do. Whereas when I first started, I was like, OK, I have all this stuff to do Sunday. I’m going to try to get it done, and then it would wind up being the weekend, and I would have like 12 hours of homework to do over the weekend, so.

So that was the biggest thing that I’ve learned, and it’s really made all the difference. My grades are still great, that hasn’t changed, but my life has changed in terms of freedom to do different things and having weekends off and stuff like that, so. That’s the nature of an online program, but I do love it, and I think had I known that sooner I would have started off a little bit better too, so.

JEN TOOF: Yeah, that’s really great advice. We had a past episode with Katie Marshall, who’s one of our mental health case managers. And we talked a bit about self-care and how time management can come into that. And so we talked about like why it can be really impactful to color-code a calendar. Such as if you have family and you’re dedicating family time in this block.

You know, if you have your professional or work commitments in this block. And then, look at your syllabus and identify where do you want your academic workloads to be. Because there is that autonomy and that asynchronous nature of the World Campus classes. And it can become a lot easier and less stressful when using that syllabus and making that plan.

And identifying that structure because that structure fits in just as much as a work schedule. Or fits in just as much as maybe you have children who are in sports leagues and you’re going to their games and their practices. So we always appreciate when we can share that advice from students, and it also goes hand in hand with what we’ve been bringing forth with other topics through our guests as well.

JONATHAN MONK: Yeah, I love the ability to color-code calendars. So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve kind of broken it down from personal, school, and work. And I have three different colors on my apple calendar on my computer. I also have two different notebooks. I keep it separate, so I’m like in one head-space when I’m doing work, in a different head-space when I’m doing school. And it’s two different notebooks, so it never gets convoluted in my brain. I’m just like, OK, this is what I’m doing here now.

JEN TOOF: It’s awesome. It’s awesome. I appreciate that.


For our student affairs snapshot this episode, I’d like to recognize the hard work students are putting in outside the classroom through their co-curricular activities. In previous episodes, we’ve discussed what getting involved looks like and how to get involved. Participation can be as little or as much as you desire at World Campus. Our executive leadership positions, and clubs, organizations, and student advisory boards require dedication to standing meetings, committees, activities, preparation, and in-service. Thank you to all students who have been serving this past year.

Up next is our on the corner segment. We use this segment to discuss intersecting topics. And so, Jonathan, you’re a member of our student advisory board at World Campus, which is connected to our student affairs department. Can you tell our listeners what the student advisory board is? And then, as a follow up, can you share what interested you or motivated you to become involved?

JONATHAN MONK: Yeah, so the student advisory board, basically there’s five different committees. So I’m on the board outreach and relations committee. So my role in the student advisory board is to connect our board with other boards at the campus. So the student advisory board that I’m on is for World Campus, so that’s for all of the World Campus programs. So not just the business school, it’s the psychology program, medical program, whatever it may be.

So there’s 30 of us on this board, and it’s all different people from different programs, which is really great. But so my specific role, I’m creating right now working on events. So outreach to the school as a whole, so how can we get World Campus students more involved in different programs? So it’s my job to develop some of these program ideas. And then, take it back to the school and say, hey, these are ideas we have to reach out to different members of the World Campus community.

And this is how we can we think we can get them involved. And some of them involve scholarships to go, attend seminars and conferences, and speaker sessions and stuff, so. And I chose this area because I attended an event where I received a scholarship through Penn State in my first semester. And I attended a climate event at Northwestern in Chicago, and I was like, this is incredible. I love this. This is awesome. So I was like, I want to be able to do this, and I want to be able to be in charge of a committee that makes those decisions.

So that was to tie those two together that’s what I’m doing, and that is what interested me in the board and the committee, as well as just wanting board experience. I really, you know, to move forward in my life, I’m going to hopefully be on different boards, and stuff to position myself with what the structure of a board was like was important to me. So I’m getting both of those things.

JEN TOOF: Yeah, that’s awesome. You’re speaking to my heart. I used to work in student activities at one of the other Penn State campuses. So hearing you talk about events and being able to see that happen co-curricularly or through student engagement with the academic programs. It’s just such a wonderful event or a wonderful experience when what the students do in the classroom and outside the classroom can come together in a supportive way. So thank you for serving in that role for the advisory board.

JONATHAN MONK: Of course, I’m having a really fun time doing it, and it’s nice to be able to give back to everyone and see people enjoying events.

JEN TOOF: Yeah, so we talked with our director of alumni, and Amber shared with us joining boards are a great way to increase skills for communication, as well as for team building. Do you have anything in that experience that you want to share with our listeners for today?

JONATHAN MONK: Yeah, I would certainly agree with that. With right now, the way that it’s structured is we have two meetings, and these are two-hour meetings every month. So one is the board as a whole, so it’s 30-ish of us, and the other ones the committee, which is about eight. So in those committee meetings, I’d say those skills are developed even more because we’re in a Zoom session for two hours.

And we’re working as a team, planning what our initiatives that we’re going to work on for the next month until the following meetings. So really just being able to communicate with really new faces. A bunch of people that I’ve just met for the first time, a lot of new board members.

And being able to work as a team to vote on stuff, put together proposals for the school. It is like, I’m a consultant in one of the companies that I own, and I do a lot of consulting work. And that’s what the board is, too, in a sense, because we’re consulting the school, but we’re not. We’re like, hey, this is a really good idea. As a team, this is what we’ve developed.

Here’s our proposal. Do you think we can make it happen? So it’s pretty cool because I do that in work. And now I’m doing it in the board. And it certainly develops team-building skills and project management skills, and things like that. So I would highly recommend this to anyone that’s looking to go into that type of field because you will certainly develop those skills by being part of a board.

JEN TOOF: Great. Awesome. So you just shared how students can really take those skills, and you mention what you’re involved in with the events committee. What are some of the current projects or tasks outside of the specifics that you’re working on? Can you share with us in general what the advisory board is looking to achieve or work on in the coming year or anything that they’ve completed?

JONATHAN MONK: Yeah, so I know there’s one of the committees. I forget the name of the committee off the top of my head. But they’re working on, and they’ve been working on this for about a year, but they’re working on developing a mental health program for World Campus students. So how to connect them with maybe different leaders in the mental health space on campus. Or connecting them with the resources they need or because a lot of students, World Campus students might not know of the different resources to help with mental health that Penn state offers.

So this specific committee on my board is working on that, and they give us updates every month, and it’s pretty incredible stuff that they’re doing. You know, mental health is so important now, especially when you’re getting a degree and working at the same time. I mean, it’s very easy to lose focus and not be clear mentally. So I think that work that they’re doing is really great.

There’s a marketing and communications committee. So they do a lot of the social media posts that you see from Penn State World Campus. As well as work with the regular Penn State social media accounts. They do a lot of those email blasts that we all get. The different blogs published on the website, so. They work a lot on those different types of things and how they can feature in the World Campus.

There’s another two board committees that I’m forgetting and then there’s mine. Right now, we’re working on the events aspect, but also the board outreach aspects we’re doing. We are connecting with different boards and putting together the best format for reporting amongst the board so that all the boards are interconnected. And everyone knows what each different board’s initiatives are.

And so I think that gap was missing, so a lot of boards were working in silos. Well, now we’re trying to put together a system where every board can work together. World Campus, regular campus, doctor, or whatever it may be, so. That’s something that we’re working on this semester and hoping to complete soon.

JEN TOOF: Sounds like some innovation and technology are also skills that are being enhanced in this experience as well.

JONATHAN MONK: Oh, certainly. Yeah, certainly. There’s one thing that I did forget about when you said that sparked a thought that I had. Was about in our last board meeting, we were talking about the marketing committee. And they were filming videos, and I know that there was a lot of people that are interested in technology that were helping. You know to get certain equipment and edit stuff, and they had different videography, photography equipment they could lend or different sort of editing software and stuff.

So I know that there was a lot of interest in developing those technology skills as well as different like social media planning platforms. And all that sort of digital marketing, technology platforms, software that I know that the marketing community is using. So anyone that’s interested in a marketing or communications major career certainly can develop those skills on the board as well.

JEN TOOF: Awesome, thanks for sharing that. So our toolbox for success is our next segment. So you know the advocacy role you were talking about mental health and what does that look like for services for students or bringing attention to student’s needs in that area. How is the advisory board enriching it and improving the student experience for World Campus?

JONATHAN MONK: Yeah, so I think without the advisory board and I think it’s important to remember the advisory board is run by students. These are all — we’re all World Campus students, so we’re all students that are in the program, so we see what we like. What can be improved. What maybe we should not focus on so much, whatever it may be, we’re living this experience.

So we’re able to then take this experience back and say, OK, based on the experience of all 30 of us in different programs. How do we think we can better the World Campus student experience as a whole? So as we learn, we’re implementing. So I think that’s always really important to remember, it’s not just professors at the school or presidents or deans developing these programs.

We’re actually students developing proposals to change parts of the program or add different initiatives. Or make something more robust that students need or create access to mental health stuff or how to get involved in marketing. And I think the beauty of it, too, is the freedom. The freedom that we’re given as the board and as part of the committees, as you know, I’m on the board relations and outreach committee.

But I’m not necessarily confined to this, like if I come up with a great idea of something that I want to implement, they’re not going to be like, no, our board doesn’t cover that. They’re like you’re students, this is your experience, you go out and create the experience that’s best for you, so. I think that’s what’s really important, is that this is for students by students. So.

JEN TOOF: Yeah, that for students and by students, so I’m not sure if you would have been at World Campus at the time when this project had started. But I was a project lead on a project called One Lion Squad. And so just the idea of students talking about what is a community network look like. You know, we went into a strategic project phase of trying to create a community to bring students together.

We didn’t get into implementation phase. We had other lessons learned to better the student experience. But I can speak to just myself and my assistant director role with student affairs, just seeing how an idea can start at the advisory board to better that experience. And what does it look like to, like let’s try something new? That student voice is so important for the students at World Campus as well as for the advisory board.

JONATHAN MONK: Yeah, absolutely. I’m not familiar with that program, but it sounds like something pretty similar to different things that we’d be implementing. I am really excited, too, because I’m in this part of the board in the committee until I graduate. So I’m really excited to see the programs from start to finish and make them come to fruition and just see how they impact, so. So that’s going to be really cool, as you know, I’m in this for another year and a half. So it’s just seeing everything and how it maps out.

JEN TOOF: Yeah. For us, we were in our pilot phase, and then the pandemic happened. So everything —

JONATHAN MONK: That’s tough.

JEN TOOF: — changed for what does support look like for students? And everything of what we learned really changed just what were the students seeking for needs at that time. So like any project or any initiative or any program, right, flexibility is going to be that key of being able to identify what’s best for the students at that point in time.

JONATHAN MONK: Yeah, absolutely.

JEN TOOF: OK, so I was looking at the advisory board web page. So for our listeners, if you go to you can click on get involved, and the advisory board information is there. Students can go there to contact the advisory board. Jonathan, is there any specific contact besides that, that we want to direct listeners to if they want to get involved or reach out to the advisory board? So one of the things that I saw on the page was — there was mention about the university library services to enhance the online resources.

So I want to be able to speak to some of that additional great work or some other completion projects. Or where can students start to contact the advisory board? So I saw that library service piece on the site. And that may have been prior to your time, but I know academic success is a key component in working with the academic programs. So I always see that as a constant question from students.

JONATHAN MONK: Yeah, so why — I was able to find it. So Christina Reeves, so she’s a graduate assistant, and she also is the head of the advisory board. So she’s the best person to contact. She is the one that initiated me into the board and walks me through the process, and leads our meetings, and so Christina is really great.

And then, in terms of individual committees, there’s different leaders on the committees. Right now, we’ve moved into a new semester so there are new leaders for each one of the committees. But if anyone’s interested, they can contact me or Christina Reeves which her email is So that’s cvr5622, or you can contact me, Jonathan Mok and, I’d be more than happy to help.

JEN TOOF: Well, we’ll for sure put your contact information as well as any pertinent links in our episode description for all of our listeners to go to. I know sometimes I listen to things, I’m like I got to write it down or I got to remember it. So we try to put it in multiple places, as well as in the blog that also delivers our episodes as well.

So I know that — I think it’s maybe once in the fall, maybe once in the spring. It’s been a little bit because we’ve navigated a couple of years of being in a remote space as far as in services. What does it feel like when the advisory board gets to come together for in-service opportunities?

JONATHAN MONK: Yeah, now, I think that’s really great. That was one thing that I missed about orientation for the World Campus program. At least for the MBA program, we were supposed to have a three-day-in-service to orientation period to start the semester. And that has always been the standard, even for online MBA’s, so I was m that’s really cool. I get to go to campus for a week, and I haven’t been to Penn State campus in 10 years, so. [LAUGHING] So I was looking forward to that, and then it didn’t happen because of COVID. Unfortunately.

And they almost made it happen, so I think now that there’s actually the first in-person program, it is really cool. A chance for the board and everyone to get together and meet in person and chat and hang out on campus. I think for me, it’s just the opportunity to be on Penn State campus. And we’re part of World Campus but to be on main campus with your fellow board members and talking about stuff is special. So I think we’re all really looking forward to that.

JEN TOOF: Get a picture at the Y and try and get some ice cream.

JONATHAN MONK: Yeah. [LAUGHING] Yes, absolutely. Those are necessary.

JEN TOOF: Yeah. So for our toolbox for success, sounds like we’ve talked a lot about how the advisory board can play an integral role for success for students in general at the World Campus. What would your final thought be that you’d want to give our listeners about the advisory board?

JONATHAN MONK: Yes, I think the biggest — so I’ll give two tips here. Two tips for success or whatever, however, we want to word it. But I think taking risks, and this is something we’re talking about too in the advisory board. Is, you know, let’s just take risks with some of these initiatives. Let’s go out. Let’s try to get stuff done to really impact the student experience. And personally, this is something that I always try to push as well because I believe in taking risks.

This was a risk joining the advisory board. It was a risk going to get my MBA. I mean, these are all calculated risk. They’re all good risks, but there’s certainly risks. I mean, you’re taking a chance with something, and this is a time commitment. But it’s all great in the end. Usually, so. [LAUGHING] So I would recommend that to any students. Just take risks. Go out there.

Penn State offers so many opportunities, just take a risk with a job or take a risk with getting involved on campus. Or take a risk going to an event or joining a board or starting a business or whatever it may be. So I think this now is the time, and I always try to do that. And I just try to take as many risks as I can, and they usually work out, and I wind up being happier. So that’s my suggestion.

JEN TOOF: I appreciate you taking the risk and coming on our episode. This whole podcast experience has been one giant risk. I am one of those people that public speaking is really difficult and really challenging. And so, I’ve always shared with our listeners this will be one of the hardest things that I ever do. But it’s most rewarding because I get to connect with students like you, Jonathan and I get to help tell student’s stories. And how can we bring it all together, so I really appreciate you sharing about taking a risk because risks can open so many doors and so many wonderful experiences.

JONATHAN MONK: Yeah, they really can, and I’m sure now you’re feeling better and better with it every day.


JONATHAN MONK: And that’s how I know, that any time I’ve ever been like anxious about something, like risk wise, that was good. I just try to push myself through it, and I usually, I feel better each and every time that I do it. So it is very rewarding in the end.

JEN TOOF: Thank you, Jonathan, so much for being on our episode. I love being able to connect with our students. If you or any of the advisory board members want to come on and talk about any future topics, student stories, talk about any skills. We would certainly welcome you back and welcome anybody from the advisory board to come on.

JONATHAN MONK: Yes, thank you very much. This is a pleasure, and I appreciate you having me. And I definitely will let the board know and we’ll share this around, and spread the word about World Campus.

JEN TOOF: Awesome. Thank you so much, Jonathan.

JONATHAN MONK: Appreciate it.