There are as many different pieces to Colette Cummings as one of the puzzles she enjoys completing. Cummings is the associate dean of students and director of the Multicultural Center and International Student Affairs (MCISA). Off of campus, Cummings is hard at work on her doctorate in higher education. She is a movie buff and likes anything from shoot-‘em-ups to deep, thought-provoking stories. Here, Cummings discusses her interests and her work at Webster.
written by Romare Haller
Q: What do you love most about your work at Webster University?
A: I love my job. I love the students because the students are always growing and changing and they teach me so many things. I get to work with the international students and there is so much diversity, so I never get bored.
Q: What are some challenges specific to working with international students?
A: Students coming to study in the U.S. must get a visa, and there have been times when a student has applied and been accepted to the university and are all set to arrive on a certain date, and then we find out that their visa has been denied or delayed for some reason. Another unique challenge is that some students come from places that are undergoing wars or natural disasters. I spend a lot of time making sure that I know about what is going on in the world, to help these students out.
Q: Do you have any interesting stories from working with international students?
A: This semester we received an email from a former graduate assistant from Burkina Faso. During his time here he did an internship with the United Nations and helped with several of our programs. I heard that he is getting married later this year, so we get to learn about the marriage rituals in his country. They are pretty extensive and last for over a month. I am trying to figure out when exactly to send my gift.
Q: Have you done any other work in St. Louis?
A: I worked for Washington University and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) on Washington University’s campus where I was in charge of 36 student-led community service
projects in St. Louis. I was also selected to be an advisor for all the
other YWCAs across the country, so I got to travel to just about every state and talk to amazing women doing YWCA work. I also got to spend three weeks in Korea at the World YWCA meeting.
Q: When you’re not working what do you do to unwind?
A: A quirky thing I like is jigsaw puzzles. I know if I am patient enough it will all come together and I hope that life is like that. If we have all the pieces at some point we will have a beautiful picture because all the pieces will fit together, but it might take a while. So when I get stressed out, I clear my dining room table and do a puzzle.