Meet Shonda Gray-Crain, Director, Office of Undergraduate Admission & Recruitment, Morgan State University.
What is a typical week like for you?
A typical week is anything but typical. My day begins at 5:30 am as I begin to prepare myself for the day. I usually check emails for anything urgent that may have come overnight and then move forward with the remainder of my morning prep. I have three kids, ages 5, 8, and 18. Although my oldest is in his freshmen year at college I still have the younger two get ready in the mornings. I wake them at 6:45 am and help them get washed and dressed and then I cook breakfast. We are usually out of the door between 8:00 am and 8:15 am to get them to school. On the ride to school we practice spelling words for the week or go over math facts. At work each day is different from the other. I sometimes have days with back-to-back meetings and I am rarely at my desk and other days I am speaking to parents and students all day helping them to understand the college admission process. I get excited for the days where there are no interruptions and I can dedicate time to projects and exploring new ideas and strategies. In the evenings I pick the kids up from school or karate and we get started on homework. We try to play a board game or have a family Nerf war a few nights a week. On the weekends there are more activities like swimming, playing dress up with my daughter, or failing at playing 2K with my son.
What led you to the field of admissions?
The career of higher education found me. I have a bachelor’s degree in political science, from Morgan, and a master’s degree in criminal justice with a concentration juvenile justice. After I earned my master’s degree, my plan was to enter the field of juvenile justice and work with at-risk youth. I had worked in higher education as a means to finance my own education. However, after earning my master’s I realized that over the last six years I was already doing the work I had set out to do. I was working with youth, helping them to find a path to education and assisting them with achieving their dreams.
What is the best part of the job?
The best part of the job is by far seeing the excitement on a student’s face when they learn they have been admitted to Morgan. I get just as much joy and excitement from the moment as they do. It is equally rewarding to see my students graduate. To have worked with them over the course of their matriculation and watch them as they grow and develop. To know that I had a small hand in their transformation is extremely rewarding. And I now understand what my Morgan professors mean when they say how proud they are of my accomplishments. I have former students that have worked in the White House, held executive positions at Under Armour and ESPN, and are lawyers and doctors. I have immense pride knowing that my work at Morgan as assisted in making these students shining examples of a Morgan State University education.
What is the most challenging?
The flip side of the best part of my job is the disappointment of a student when they are not admissible. It’s difficult to see a student in that position. However, because of the mission of the university we are often able to turn this into a positive situation. Morgan offers many alternative paths to admission that help students strengthen their fundamental skills to become admissible. I myself benefited from an alternative path to admission. At the time that I entered Morgan the program was called Pre-College and it is now CASA Academy. Without this program I may not be sitting here today.
What are you looking forward to in your career?
We have begun many new strategies in our office as well as implemented new technological enhancements. I am eager to see the positive impacts that these will have on our recruitment and enrollment efforts. I am also looking forward to my continued growth and development in the field of higher education. I am a constant learner and am excited about the upward trajectory of my career.
How do you spend your free time?
In my free time, I like to go to the gym. Over the last year I have become very health conscious. It’s important so that I can be around for my family. I also love to bake! I make anything from pound cakes to tiered wedding cakes and baby shower cakes that look like a bassinet. Then I have my must-see shows from “Grey’s Anatomy” to “Game of Thrones” and “Black-ish.”