Elise Chafin Excited to Return to UNC Charlotte Through TSI
By Wyatt Crosher, Communications Coordinator for Student Affairs
Inspired to pursue a career supporting students and their families by her undergraduate experience at UNC Charlotte, Elise Chafin returns to her alma mater to help newcomers find belonging in the Niner Nation community.
Chafin, who began as assistant director of orientation programs in Transition and Success Initiatives (TSI) on May 16, earned her bachelor of arts in Africana studies in May 2020 from Charlotte.
After recently earning her master’s of education at the University of South Florida, Chafin is excited to be back on the campus that started her passion in the field.
“My time spent in this office as an undergraduate student inspired this career path. It really sparked my passion for working with and supporting students, their families and their transition into the University,” Chafin said. “In those years, I really found that I could do this full time, and that's when I decided to go into student affairs and continue this passion for helping students have a successful transition."
Back as an undergraduate student, Chafin worked in TSI, then known as New Student & Family Services, as an orientation counselor. Her experiences there were extremely positive, and the relationships she made then helped make the decision to return an easy one.
"The people are what brought me back. The great people that work in this office and within the Dean of Students Office,” Chafin said. “They are really the reason I got here, so to come back and work for them is truly an honor. They're constantly changing to try and match the needs of the students and families that we serve. I wanted to come back and be a part of that growth."
In her time away from the University, Chafin said it was difficult to get accustomed to a new school, especially while dealing with restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But she also said these past two years have allowed her to grow, both as a person and in her career. The biggest lesson was how to speak up for what she wants.
“I got very comfortable at Charlotte, of course. I worked at this office for three years and then I left, so I really had to learn how to advocate for myself and for my needs,” Chafin said. “Learning an institution in a pandemic is really difficult — how dynamics work and what the resources are. It was a challenge, but I learned a lot about myself.”
Chafin said her advice to anyone pursuing a career in student affairs is to try a variety of opportunities within the field. Though she started as an orientation counselor, her ability to expand her horizons while at South Florida helped her find what she’s truly passionate about.
“I was able to really dip my toes into some other areas during my time at grad school,” Chafin said. “Because this field is so collaborative and we need all of these pieces and functions to work together, it's really interesting to see what other people do and other areas that students need support."
While she enjoyed being able to branch out and earn her master’s, Chafin is very excited to be back at Charlotte, a place she considers home, and one where she never felt able to properly close the book on because of the timing of her graduation.
"It feels like I was supposed to come back. I really thought it might feel weird, but it has been a more welcoming feeling than I could have ever imagined,” Chafin said. “I'm so excited and feel so honored to be back and able to serve the office and the institution that really shaped me and changed my life. I left in 2020 during lockdown, so I didn't get closure. Now, it feels good to be back. It feels like I truly never left."