Reflections from Dr. Lilly

Soncia Reagins-Lilly, Vice President for Student Affairs

Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

Why do YOU do what YOU do? What inspired YOU to pursue a career in student affairs?

Was your career shaped by a particular experience at a university influenced by a campus leader who showed you they cared and helped you grow?

Well here is my inspiration. My career direction was sparked during my early years at The University of California at Irvine. My friend and I were taking a challenging linguistics class. We both received a “D” on our first test. Not being accustom to less than satisfactory grades, I felt alone and overwhelmed in this new, big college environment — so different from my small hometown of Banning, California.

My friend and I were determined to succeed, so we looked to hire a tutor, a specialist in the field. Enters Dr. Erylene Piper-Mandy. She was willing to tutor us whenever we needed, even on the weekends. After studying with her, we took our next test and both made an “A.” We were so excited by our improvement, but that excitement didn’t last long. Our professor accused us of cheating and forbade us from sitting together during class or test times. I was devastated. While I called my parents back home, I also confided in Dr. Piper-Mandy about what had happened. She knew how hard we worked and called the professor to explain her role as our tutor as an attempt to set the record straight. We did not cheat. It felt good to have someone in my corner since my dad and mom were not there. Her investment in me gave me so much confidence and inspired me.

When we took our final, my friend and I sat apart. Dr. Piper-Mandy prepped us well, and we aced it. From that moment on I knew I wasn’t alone at the University of California, Irvine. Someone at UCI cared.

I also gained inspiration by becoming active in my sorority with tabling and service events. The student affairs staff were always helpful, supportive and nurturing. My thoughts of being a corporate law attorney began to fade, and I started leaning towards and asking questions about a career in higher education, specifically student affairs.

Working in student affairs has been my passion for the past 32 years, and now you know why I do what I do!

So, what is your why? Why do YOU do what YOU do?

I would love to hear what or who inspired you. Why is working in student affairs your passion?

Look for some stories of our staff who will share their stories in upcoming newsletters.

Hook ‘em,

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Dr. Soncia Reagins-Lilly
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students