Katelynn Singleton, Campus Carrier staff writer
Berry recently welcomed two new staff members, Amy Shaffer and Karen DiRuggiero, who will be Berry’s new Assistant Dean of Personal and Professional Development and Area Coordinator for Residence Life, respectively.
Before joining the Berry community, Shaffer worked for five years at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) as a director of internships and career experiences with Texas Career Engagement. Prior to that, she worked with Texas Global, UT’s study abroad program.
As assistant dean, Shaffer will be working to optimize LifeWorks and improve the experience for both supervisors and students. Shaffer noticed that students seemed to shortchange themselves when talking about the LifeWorks program and the experiences they gained through it. She hopes that some of the work she does can help students grasp how marketable they are to employers.
“It may not always be apparent, you’re so busy in your studies and other things that you may overlook some of the things that really make you attractive to employers,” Shaffer said.
Shaffer also hopes that students begin to engage with the Center for Personal and Professional Development (CPPD) sooner in their college experience. Students tend to approach the department in their junior or even senior years. Shaffer wants to see students engage with CPPD as early as their freshman year so that when they are seniors they will be prepared for life after Berry.
Shaffer was drawn to Berry in part due to Martha Berry’s legacy, and to the notion of “head, heart, and hands.” Shaffer says she feels very honored to be able to continue the work that Martha Berry started.
“The notion of working for one another, that’s really what I gravitated toward,” said Shaffer.
DiRuggiero is the new Residence Life Area Coordinator for Morgan and Deerfield Halls, Ford Complex, Pilgrim and Friendship Halls and the Cottages. Before coming to Berry, DiRuggiero spent a semester at Baylor School, a private boarding school in Chattanooga, Tenn. Prior to that, she worked in Long Island at the Stony Brook School, where she was a dorm head and taught math.
“A lot of my experience comes from secondary schools, this is my jump into college residence life,” DiRuggiero said.
At Stony Brook, DiRuggiero says they had a system similar to Resident Assistants. The student leadership was very high, so DiRuggiero says that it hasn’t been difficult getting used to the RA system at Berry.
Something that DiRuggiero says she has had to get used to is no longer teaching. As head of the math department at Stony Brook, DiRuggiero says she was used to grading papers, creating quizzes and tutoring students. While this has been a transition, she says it’s been nice being able to have a singular focus.
DiRuggiero hopes to help both head RA’s and RA’s feel appreciated and supported. She recognizes that COVID-19 has put a lot more pressure on the RA’s, and she hopes to enable them to be the best they can be. Residence life’s goal is to make the residence halls a positive living and learning experience for everybody.
“I’m looking forward to helping the RA’s to feel ready for their jobs, in order for them to make a positive impact in the residence halls,” DiRuggiero said.
DiRuggiero lived in Rome, Ga. for 16 years, from 1997 until 2013, so she considers Rome her home. She also has a daughter who attends Berry, so the family connection and having lived in the area were two factors to joining the Berry community.
Both Shaffer and DiRuggiero said that their offices are open for students who want to chat. Shaffer’s office is located in Krannert 320, and DiRuggiero’s is in the Ford Complex. They are excited to get to meet students and help the Berry community.