Staff Spotlight

Staff Spotlight: Abby Asgaralli, Union Registrar

Categories: Staff Profile

Before coming to Union you mentioned working at City Year, what were you doing there?

I was the director of the Americorps experience for one of our local sites, I actually spearheaded the position and built it from the ground up. After the first year they replicated it in six different cities and now it’s expanded even more. It was probably one of my professional highlights being able to build something for such a large national service organization. 

The job essentially ensured that young people who came to the program were having their needs met and questioning how to help them navigate a year of service. This is a time where they’re not making a salary but a stipend, work 12 hour days, and navigate a new chapter in their life. I was with the organization for about six years and it brought me a lot of joy. It was tough to leave after spending so much time investing and building, but I think I left it in great hands. 

In your first couple of months at Union have there been any fun surprises to working at a seminary?

I really love the community students have here. Any time I’ve gotten to sit down with a student or eat with them at community lunch, I’m blown away by how thoughtful they are about what they’re going to use their degree to do. In my professional career I’m often coaching young people about how to be the change they wish to see in the world, students here are like – here is how I’m going to do it, this is what I’m going to do, and everyone else can come along with me. I shouldn’t say that surprises me, but it’s been refreshing to confirm that those are still the people in the world that I like to spend my time with. 

What does a day in the life of a registrar at Union look like? 

Being a registrar is essentially intense record-keeping, it’s the Olympics of record keeping. Everything there is to know about a student my office generally has a loop in about it, except for things we just shouldn’t be privy to. Whether it’s interactions with professors, help with accommodations, curiosity about your transcript, or coaching on next steps, all these things really fall into our bucket. Day-to-day it’s about attending to the needs of our executive team and our leadership team. While there are a lot of things I may not make decisions about, I’m often in the room using my voice to advocate on behalf of students. 

When you’re not managing records at Union what do enjoy doing outside the office? 

My self-care looks like reading, working out, and cooking. I like the process of all those things unfolding, whether cooking and plating something or getting to the juicy part of a book. There’s a process to how they work and I get joy when they’re finished. I’m also a video gamer. I play a lot of different things on Xbox which catch my fancy, but I think World of Warcraft has probably been my most consistent game that I enjoy. That’s probably my truest downtime where I can selfishly say this is for myself because it’s fun and there’s no other benefit. 

What are some things students can come to your office for?

Students can come to me for almost anything because I can be a point of contact that starts you in the right direction. Most students come to me with questions about grades, or navigating something in the classroom. I’m also just a good ear to listen. Sometimes folks want to sit down and go through their transcript or just share what they want to do after they graduate. I can help you think about upcoming courses you might want to prioritize or something at a neighboring institution. 

Sometimes folks just want another person to talk to. I take my role as a woman of color in leadership seriously, and that’s why I always leave my door open. I didn’t have a lot of people who looked like me ever in higher education, so sometimes if that’s just who you need to talk to first I’m happy to be that person as well. 

Is there something that excites you about your work which you didn’t get the chance to share?

The last point I made about being a woman and a woman of color in leadership is something important to me. I was often told to share my voice as a way to affect change and not allow dominant voices to be the loudest. I get excited when i can share that advice with someone else and help them craft the right words, because it’s one thing to be told to share your voice and it’s another thing to actually know what to say when you have that space. Most of my professional career has been with Americorps. I started as a teacher in high school and think the idea of national service definitely grounded me in my entire experience. I believe there is a pathway for people to become more comfortable with their own voice and I love helping students find that for themselves.