Meet Alumna Sara Swillo Muckian ’05, Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development

Name: Sara Swillo Muckian

Class Year: 2005

Title: Director of Student Activities and Leadership Development

Organization Name: Assumption University


1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?

My job is to provide a wide variety of vibrant activities and leadership development opportunities on campus for all students as well as advise student leaders on how they can take what they are learning in the classroom and apply it to their co-curricular activities and in real world experiences.


2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?  

I was working in OSI over the summer when I had a conversation with Brenda Hounsell Sullivan about how to remain active with orientation once my time as an OL was finished. She shared with me about getting a masters of education in student personnel administration and from there I applied to graduate schools. In graduate school, I attended a conference and was speaking after a presentation with one of presenter and thru a Worcester connection, I was offered an internship, at Assumption College, which then turned into my first job as Assistant Director of Student Activities. It is always important to make connections and maintain them!!

I knew that higher education was the right fit for me because I liked going to work, even on Mondays. I am a very extroverted person and being with students and hearing their stories fills my cup and gives me energy so I knew I was in the right field because I am happy to go to work!


3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

As a student at Holy Cross, I was on Varsity XC, Winter and Spring track for two years before an injury prevented me from running. Then I became involved with CAB as the Special Events Chair. I was an Orientation leader for three years as well as a student employee in OSI. I also was on PKS and in charge of Purple Pride Day.


4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

I was a Sociology major and to be honest I had no idea what I was going to do with that major. I did an internship my senior year in a middle school guidance counselor office  and realized rather quickly that I did not want to go into social work. I do love hearing people’s stories and learning about their backgrounds and how they work in a group so I knew I wanted to work with populations of people ideally in education. Just so happened that all my co-curricular activities were the starting point for my career.


5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

Active Listening- I know we did so many activities as a student leader that involved active listening and it has helped me immensely in my career, especially when it comes to listening to students and meeting them where they are.

Reflection and Discernment- I do not think I truly appreciated these skills in college as much as I do now. I find that when I have to make a difficult decision or when I am unsure of the correct path I should take, I spend time reflecting on past experiences, talking with mentors and my support system as well as taking time to think of all the possible outcomes from my decision. I learned to journal at Holy Cross and continue to do so today!


6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?

Get Involved!!! Get involved with something you are passionate about and make sure to attend events and programs that are outside of your comfort zone- these are the programs where you will learn the most. And lastly, make sure to slow down and truly appreciate the four years you are on Mt. St. James, enjoy the late night coffee breaks with your friends, attending sporting events and lectures and make sure to take some time to find out what you are passionate about and what drives you! Holy Cross is a great place to find yourself!