September 24, 2019

Sandrine Sutphin: Join the Club

Sandrine Sutphin, director of Student Activities and Engagement, and her staff support huge campus-wide events like yesterday's Club Carnival, as well as Orientation, Family Weekend and Homecoming. Photo by Suzanne Rossi.

Sandrine Sutphin, director of Student Activities and Engagement, and her staff support huge campus-wide events like yesterday’s Club Carnival, as well as Orientation, Family Weekend and Homecoming. Photo by Suzanne Rossi.

The carnival came to UMW yesterday – Club Carnival, that is. Rather than rides and fried treats on sticks, this beloved Mary Washington tradition is about forming connections. Hundreds of students congregated on Ball Circle, finding new friends to share their passions. From organizations that encourage community and civic engagement, to clubs for Quidditch and Japanese anime fans – with more than 150 groups seeking new members – there was something for every Eagle.

In the center of it all was Sandrine Sutphin, who has run the event since she came to the University three years ago. “After graduate school, I spent four years at large research institutions, so I wanted to gain experience at a smaller school. Coming to UMW was a great opportunity.”

Indeed. As director of Student Activities and Engagement, Sutphin and her team support Mary Washington clubs and organizations, manage the MyUMW student engagement software and support huge campus-wide events like Orientation, Family Weekend and Homecoming.

As an undergraduate, Sutphin personally experienced the impact that belonging to a club can have on a student. At JMU, she served as a weekend designated driver, an orientation guide and peer advisor, and as a member of the Alpha Phi Omega co-ed service fraternity. But it was her participation in Outriggers that gave her a taste of her future career.

“Our club’s motto was ‘peers helping peers help themselves,’ ” said Sutphin, who facilitated ice breakers, team builders and reflection sessions to assist other campus organizations. “My involvement in that group influenced my decision to become a student affairs professional.”

 

As director of Student Activities and Engagement, Sandrine Sutphin and her team support UMW clubs and organizations. Photo by Suzanne Rossi.

As director of Student Activities and Engagement, Sandrine Sutphin and her team support UMW clubs and organizations. Photo by Suzanne Rossi.

Q: Why does participating in clubs and organizations enhance the college experience?
A: There’s a lot of research around the benefits of involvement and how it can positively impact your success in college and beyond. On the surface, it helps you meet new people, make friends and feel more connected. Beyond that, there are many skills that can be gained, particularly if you take on leadership positions. Organization, communication, team building, critical thinking, gaining multicultural awareness – these competencies support career preparedness.

Q: Anything new at this year’s Club Carnival?
A: We announced next week’s auditions to become UMW’s mascot, Sammy D. Eagle, who’s getting a new look that will be revealed at Homecoming.

Q: Any clubs or activities unique to Mary Washington?
A: The Geek Alliance, which includes the Video Game Club, UMW Whovians, League of Legends Club and Western Animation Club.

Q: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Developing relationships with students and helping them work through group dynamic challenges.

Q: The most challenging?
A: Remembering how much is out of my control.

Q: How do you enjoy your free time?
A: Having fun with my husband and 2-year-old son. Lately we’ve been focused on preparing to become a family of four this winter!

Q: What is your motto?
A: Most days: “Everything happens for a reason.” When I’m feeling sassy: “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”