Student services coordinator
College of Human Sciences
Kelly Roper Martin, a native of Florence, Ala., graduated from Auburn in 2007 with a degree in interior design and moved to Birmingham to work at the health care studio of Gresham, Smith and Partners. In January 2009, Kelly married David Martin, also an Auburn alumnus, and moved to California where David had been teaching at San Francisco State University. Kelly got a job working for a small business owner who was a manufacturer's representative for numerous lines of contract furniture and fabric. When David had an opportunity to join the faculty in Auburn's Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management, the couple returned to The Plains. Kelly enrolled in graduate school in the College of Human Sciences and began working as a graduate assistant in the Office of Academic Affairs, as well as a graduate teaching assistant in the Department of Consumer and Design Sciences. She is now the new student services coordinator in the Office of Academic Affairs.
1. What made you come to Auburn in the first place?
I came to Auburn because of the ranking of the College of Human Sciences' interior design program. For 2012, DesignIntelligence magazine ranked it number one in the nation, and it was ranked in the top 10 in the nation when I was graduating from high school. I knew I wanted to be an interior designer and it just made sense to attend the university in Alabama that had the best academic preparation for my chosen career. My parents were a little sad at first because they had raised my sister and me to be Alabama fans, but eventually they got used to it, especially when my sister, Lisa, also graduated from Auburn with a master's degree in communication disorders. My mom is now a huge Auburn fan and even has an "Auburn Mom" bumper sticker on her car. I would say we are pretty much all Auburn now!
2. You came back when your husband, David, was offered a job not only at Auburn, but in the same department he graduated from. How did you feel about leaving sunny California for Auburn?
Even though California was beautiful, I was elated to have the opportunity to move back to Auburn. I always thought I was meant to live in a big city, but interning in New York and living in the Bay Area made me realize that there is just something about living in Auburn. This city is incredibly charming and the university gives it a positive energy that is hard to find in other places. David and I met in Auburn as students back in 2004 and have a lot of good memories here, including our wedding. We were absolutely thrilled that he got the offer to teach in the Hotel and Restaurant Management program. As a three-time graduate from that department, it was a huge compliment that they brought him back as a faculty member. That is very uncommon at an R1 research institution. David and I built a house in Auburn in October 2010 and we have really enjoyed making great new friends in Auburn and having our old friends visit during football season.
3. You were one of the students honored earlier this year by the Graduate School as an Outstanding Master's Student. What does that kind of recognition mean to you?
Being recognized as an Outstanding Master's Student was a great honor. However, I think having the chance to study at the graduate level and learn from very accomplished faculty members is a huge honor of its own. I will admit that I was pretty intimidated going into graduate school, so to have faculty members nominate me for this award really meant a lot. The part of the Auburn Creed that has always been my favorite is, "I believe that this is a practical world and that I can count only on what I earn. Therefore, I believe in work, hard work." Being a graduate student is hard work, but the benefits of a higher education are absolutely worth the effort. I have learned that being a graduate student is a juggling act, most of the time. Working 30 hours per week on assistantships and taking classes as well requires one to balance a lot of different roles throughout the day. For me, this was teacher, recruiter and student. Although I did not always feel that I was outstanding at all of these roles, I worked hard at everything I did and greatly appreciate being acknowledged for that.
4. How did you get your current job with associate dean Susan Hubbard in the Office of Academic Affairs?
I really didn't have a plan when I followed David back to Auburn. I was happy to be back in town and was considering a few different options. I applied to a couple of jobs on campus, and in the meantime, I got a call from Dr. Hubbard asking if I would be interested in being a graduate assistant in recruitment for the College of Human Sciences. I was definitely interested in pursuing a master's degree, and since I love meeting new people and have a passion for the college, it did not take long for me to say yes! Recruitment is something that is naturally very fun for me. It is incredibly rewarding to meet with high school students and their families and then see them on campus again as Auburn students. I recently accepted a new full-time position as a student services coordinator for the office, so I will continue to lead recruitment efforts, helping students find internships and jobs, designing graphics to represent the college, managing student organizations and helping with other administrative tasks as needed.
5. So which role is more enjoyable – being an Auburn student or an Auburn employee? And why?
I think the beauty of working for an educational institution like Auburn University is that you can be both a student and an employee at the same time. There are many faculty and staff members you will meet on Auburn's campus who have multiple undergraduate or master's degrees that they have earned over time simply because they enjoy learning and desire to keep doing so. One of the great benefits of working for Auburn is the tuition waiver which covers employees' enrollment in Auburn courses up to a certain number of hours each semester. I certainly intend to make use of that benefit over time. So, I suppose I would say that I equally enjoy being a student and an employee, and that the opportunity to be in both roles at the same time is a really great thing.