Despite all the challenges and grief it’s brought, the pandemic allowed Sara Mata the opportunity to reflect on what she really wanted to do.
“Although I have had incredible opportunities to find ways to incorporate supporting students in my previous positions, I wanted to pursue a role specifically in student affairs,” she said.
That desire is what brought Mata to Newman University, where she now serves as the new dean of students.
An expansive education
Mata grew up in Arkansas City, Kansas, where her immediate family still resides. Prior to attending a four-year university, she attended Cowley Community College, where she earned an associate degree in computer graphic design. She worked as a designer for five years before deciding to further her education.
Mata went on to receive four more degrees from Oklahoma State University: a bachelor’s degree in sociology, master’s degrees in community counseling and sociology, and a doctorate in social foundations.
“While pursuing my degrees, I worked as a counselor, focusing on adolescents and families involved with the legal system,” Mata said. “I transitioned to begin my career working in higher education, focused on diversity and inclusion, grants and eventually, areas of research.”
Mata was recently named a 2022 NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education Pillar of the Profession, one of the highest honors awarded by the national organization.
A determined dean of students
Now that she’s the dean of students at Newman, she looks forward to connecting with faculty, staff and students and advocating for the pursuit of higher education in Kansas.
“Being at Newman provides me the opportunity to learn about being at a small, private Catholic university,” Mata said. “I appreciate the closeness of the campus community and the opportunity to contribute to advancing the institution in a more impactful, intentional way.”
She added, “Hopefully the plethora of experiences and background I bring can provide insight and contribute to the vision and mission of Newman in meaningful ways. Most important, I hope that I am able to find avenues to support the students and enrich their educational endeavors while they are at the university.”