2021 graduating employee

By Life@TheU

2021 graduating employee

By Life@TheU

Monica Alexandra Hoo

What is your current role and department at UM?
My current role at UM is director of the Web Infrastructure/Applications System Development team for the Division of Development and Alumni Relations.

What degree will you be receiving at graduation?
This summer I will receive a Doctorate of Education in higher education leadership. My dissertation is titled: Academic Transition Experience of College Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

How long have you been at the University?
I've worked at UM for nine and a half years. My tenth work anniversary is February 1.

What were some highlights of your time as a student and employee? 

As a student, having the opportunity to participate in student government and associations has been a privilege. The pivot to virtual environments during the COVID-19 pandemic made it possible for me to balance work, home life, school, and extracurricular activities. I was honored to serve as a Graduate Student Association senator at large. I contributed as a member of the Constitutional Review Committee, where we had some great conversations about student government, the unique experience of graduate students, and ways to support graduate students on their journey and have fun doing it. We included more inclusive practices such as normalizing hybrid attendance to meetings, which allow students from all three campuses to participate. Additionally, I had the privilege of serving as vice president of the Higher Education Student Organization, where we worked to provide resources and a community to higher education graduate students at UM. During the pandemic, we launched a resource website and a lecture series called Kafecito with Dean Kohn-Wood. This series provided students and the dean with an opportunity to have open conversations about topics of importance. 

As an employee, I am lucky to love what I do for a living. I am most fortunate to work as part of a team that shares the same passion for service to our internal and external communities through technology and process efficiency.

What is a favorite UM memory? 
My favorite UM memory has to be completing the first semester of my doctoral program and celebrating with students in my new cohort and my professors, Dr. Phekoo and Dr. Ahn. We all had different backgrounds and experiences, which was wonderful because we all had different perspectives to learn from and share. I have truly enjoyed how much we, as students in the same cohort, supported each other, especially through this pandemic. The support encouraged me to persist through my doctoral program.

Please share advice for employees looking to go back to school.

Take advantage of everything UM has to offer and start now. Time will continue to pass, regardless of what you do with it. So, do something that will help you grow. As of this summer, I will be a double alumna of UM. I earned my second master's degree—a Master of Arts in liberal studies with a focus in sociology—at the University. I did it by taking one or two classes per semester using my tuition remission benefit.  

There are many doctoral programs at UM that offer scholarships or other types of financial support to assist with the cost of tuition. For example, I received a scholarship that cut my doctorate tuition in half. 

Additionally, I have a learning disability called dysgraphia, but did not let that stop me. With the support of Writing Center tutors, I felt confident in every paper and dissertation page I turned in and have become a better writer. I am eternally grateful to the tutors at the Writing Center. I met with them twice a week to check my papers and chapters. 

If UM is your place, connect with the programs you are interested in, and advisors will help you to figure out how to engage in the next step of your post-secondary education. It is possible. Use your time and benefits wisely.

Learn about other 2021 graduating employees.