Ask an Antelope: Kelly Tuttle Krahling supports students during their transition to college

Kelly Tuttle Krahling joined UNK’s Office of Student Engagement in fall 2022 as assistant director of Student and Family Transitions. The Elsie, Michigan, native was drawn to UNK because of its smaller size, which allows her to better know the students. She also believes in public universities and their mission of making higher education available to as many people as possible, something UNK embraces.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in student affairs?
I worked for an amazing group of student affairs professionals at Central Michigan University as an undergraduate student. When I discovered that the major I started college with was not right for me as a career, student affairs professionals helped me to see that my work with them was what I loved to do and was a career that I could have.

Describe your role as assistant director of Student and Family Transitions:
I support first-year students as they transition to the university and throughout their entire first year. This means coordinating Blue and Gold Welcome Week, Welcome Home Week, the Loper2Loper mentoring program and other events and programs geared toward supporting students in their first year. I also conduct the six-week survey each fall to help us learn how we are doing in supporting students and ways that we can do better.

Additionally, I support UNK students’ parents and families through the parent and family programs. In this role, I support, inform and engage parents and families so they are in the best possible position to support their students. Some of these programs include the Parent and Family Association, Family Weekends each semester and Loper Family Connection portal for parent communications.

What advice do you have for students (and parents) who are enrolling in their first year of college?
For students, your first year is a chance to try new things, explore and step out of your comfort zone. Attend a meeting of that club that seemed interesting – it just might be. Go to that event you heard about even if you don’t know anyone who is going – who knows who you might meet? Try that intramural sport you have never heard of or played before – maybe you have a hidden talent you never knew about. With all the events, activities, clubs, programs and sporting events offered on campus, you will never have a better chance to try new things and meet some great people along the way.

For parents, while it can be hard to see, it is important to let your student learn to do things on their own. They absolutely need your support and encouragement, but they also need to learn to do things like contacting professors, scheduling appointments, managing their schedule and asking for help on their own. Letting your student learn to do these things, and maybe even make a mistake and correct it, is as important as the things they learn in class. Let them learn to do things on their own, but also let them know you are there to help if (or when) they need it.

What do you love most about UNK?
In my first few months here, the biggest things that have stood out are how much everyone cares for one another and how much pride everyone has in UNK. Everyone is quick to offer help in any way they can, right down to offers to help with moving boxes. It is truly a community of people who care about each other.

I also love the UNK pride – wearing Loper gear on Fridays is almost universal. The campus comes out to support the athletes. And faculty and staff take the time out of their busy days to attend events and programs, supporting the students along the way.

Share a fun fact about yourself:
I have lived in seven states and just moved to my 20th address. I also have visited 44 states – almost all by car with my black lab as my enthusiastic but not very reliable navigator. My goal is to check off the last six after I finish my doctorate in educational leadership, starting with a well-earned Hawaii vacation to celebrate.

“Ask an Antelope” is a Q&A series highlighting UNK faculty and staff and their impact on the campus and community.