Leadership Studies Alumni Spotlight: Anna Nelson

Anna Nelson

Role: Director of Administration 
Industry/Sector: Public Sector
Year graduated from Cal Poly Humboldt: 2023

Please tell us about yourself. 

Foremost, I am very privileged to be called “mom” by two beautiful kids, a privilege I don’t take lightly. I am married to an amazingly supportive man who is one of my biggest fans. As an example of his support for me, he is the one who researched and found the Leadership Studies program for me! I have loved learning my whole life and while I lived life a little backwards by building my career first, then finishing my degree later, education is, and has always been, incredibly important to me. I want to be a role-model for my kids by completing my college education to demonstrate to them that education, and lifelong learning, are the keys to well-roundedness and success. One of my favorite mottos to live by is to “say what you mean and mean what you say.”

Professionally, I have been employed for over eight years as the Director of Administration for a quasi-public agency tending to a large portion of Southern California’s most precious groundwater resource. My entire professional career has been centered around business administration in both the public and private sectors in the administrative management capacity. I have an AA degree in liberal arts/humanities from Santa Ana College and hold three administrative certifications: Certified Administrative Professional, Organizational Management, and Technology Applications specialty certificates (CAP, OM, TA) from the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and am a commissioned State of California notary public.

What motivated you to enroll in the Leadership Studies program?

Leadership is an attribute very near and dear to me and I have studied it voraciously on my own. I had already read some of the “required texts” before I even started the program. Also, as a core function of my job, leadership has always been a topic that is not only useful to me, but also to the entire organization I serve. My deep interest in leadership coupled with my family’s support led to the culmination and ultimately, my enrollment, in Humboldt’s Leadership Studies program. This program has been everything advertised and more, and I’m really enjoying it.

How has the Leadership Program positively impacted your personal and/or professional life?

The Leadership Program has positively impacted my personal and professional life since it teaches or reinforces all the core concepts needed for effective communication, self-awareness, empathy, vulnerability, and so much more. After all, leadership is all about the ability to effectively communicate and collaborate with those from all walks of life. The texts and projects that are assigned lend to real-life scenarios and have helped me remember the important concepts when dealing with diverse perspectives and personalities in the workplace. Personally, it has helped me to rethink how to better handle tough conversations or address misunderstandings with family and friends. 
What are your goals after completing the Leadership Studies degree program?

At this juncture, and after I’m done with the Leadership Studies program, I’m not quite sure what my precise future goals are. I plan to breathe a bit, keep up with technological advances, and, of course, continue to learn about leadership. As for my career trajectory, I have found that I love working for a meaningful organization that serves its community. Whether continuing in the groundwater industry or elsewhere, I plan to continue my career in the public sector since this profession has afforded me plenty of learning opportunities and the ability to demonstrate servant leadership every day in my local community. 

What do you think people who are considering this program should know before they start? Any advice for prospective students?

I would strongly encourage you to go for it! Leadership is both a very desirable skill and trait that no one is truly successful without, no matter what industry or role they work in. To learn deeply about leadership and to incorporate it into our daily lives is to globally foster a future that everyone should want to get behind. This program, hands down, has been the most amazing learning journey for me thus far. The courses are rich with tools that are essential to any career as well as for personal growth. The program is especially flexible for busy parents who work full time. I’m so excited to see what else there is to learn, and in so doing, finally complete my bachelor’s degree in the Spring of 2023. The professors, advisor Betsy Rogers, and the entire Humboldt online team are talented, kind, and so supportive. They always make time to ensure you are getting the most out of the program – I can’t say enough great things about it.

Is there anything else you’d like to share? 

I considered many bachelor’s degree programs before I signed up for this one. Being tenured in my career, and as a director who is responsible for all recruitment for my company, I can tell you that the skills taught in this program are so universally useful, important, and rare. If one holds this degree, they can get their foot into a lot more doors than other run-of-the-mill, generic degrees. Go for leadership, it will always be a highly desirable degree.