Alexander Cross has a passion for helping others, and as the Director of Residence Life and Student Conduct at American International College in Springfield, MA, he does what he loves on a daily basis.
His interest in higher education residence life and student activities was first piqued when he was a Resident Assistant as an undergrad at Eastern Connecticut State University. After graduation, Alexander went on to become a Residence Director at Fort Lewis in Colorado, and it was then that his desire to pursue a career in higher education was confirmed.
From there, Merrimack College’s Higher Education Program was exactly what he was looking for.
“The fellowship at Merrimack was attractive to me because it provided the convenience of a one-year tuition free program, while still providing the challenge of learning a new role through the fellowship and the advanced coursework of the classes and capstone,” says Alexander. “I was also attracted to the social justice and diversity focus of the program.”
During his fellowship, Alexander worked directly with students in the Center for Academic Enrichment, helping them develop effective study and time management skills. Even though he did not end up working as an academic advisor after the fellowship, he was able to use his knowledge from the program’s courses in his job at AIC.
“They challenged my thinking, taught me new ideas and practices, and I still pull knowledge from those areas when developing programs and training in my current role,” says Alexander of his fellowship courses at Merrimack. “I learned valuable information at Merrimack and was able to work my way to my current position at AIC.”
Alexander credits Merrimack’s Higher Education Program with helping him reach his career goals, but he adds that students have to put in the time to reap the rewards. “The program is what you make it; if you put the time and effort in to develop yourself and really focus on advancing your coursework, you will learn and grow in the program in a way that differentiates yourself.”
Today, Alexander puts the skills he learned during his fellowship to good use in his important role at AIC.
“I chose to come to AIC because of the student the institution serves. AIC is very much an access institution and provides opportunities for students looking to pursue a higher education, that may not be attainable for them elsewhere,” says Alexander. “I like that I am able to make a difference in their lives, as well as helping them grow and flourish outside of the classroom.”
“Our students are inspirational, have overcome life challenges, and work hard to ensure that they graduate and are successful at AIC. Being in Residence Life, I am able to work with students in their co-curricular experience. Watching them grow as leaders on campus is very rewarding.”