Meet Dean of Students Carla Wiegers
Carla Wiegers is John Cabot University’s Dean of Students. Originally from Massachusetts, Carla holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Performance Art from Fairfield University in Connecticut and a Master of Arts degree in Government and Politics from St. John’s University in Rome. Carla worked as a Residence Director at St. John’s in Rome for 8 years, before obtaining a position at JCU.
Tell us about your background.
I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts and spent most of my childhood playing the cello, acting, and singing. My mother was a flight attendant for 40 years, so I spent my summers traveling around the U.S. and Europe. That early exposure to travel and the thrill of discovering new places has stayed with me my whole life.
I spent part of my college career in Florence on a study abroad program, I was immediately drawn to Italy and studied classical singing in-depth during my semester abroad. I returned to Florence a year later, only three days after my graduation. In Florence, I began studying opera and classical piano while working as Coordinator for Residential Life at my alma mater’s study abroad office.
What brought you to Rome and JCU?
I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to move to Rome and work as Residence Director at St. John’s University. I also started a master’s degree in Government and Politics at St. John’s. In the eight years I worked there, I made the choice to focus my career on education and, while I still love music, it is now a cherished hobby. Following the completion of my M.A., I began pursuing a Doctorate of Education, which I’m in the last stages of finishing now.
When I learned about an Assistant Dean of Students position becoming available at JCU, I jumped at the chance to apply. John Cabot is one of the most prominent U.S. accredited universities operating independently outside the U.S.
How would you describe the experience of studying abroad?
My own study abroad experience radically transformed my life. Both inside and outside the classroom, study abroad and international education change the way we see ourselves and how we interact with our communities. I think learning and living outside your own culture develops empathy, resilience, problem-solving, and innovative thinking
What does your job as Dean of Students entail? What are its most rewarding and challenging aspects?
Being Dean of Students means wearing a lot of hats simultaneously. My focus is on creating an environment that supports students’ physical, mental, and academic wellbeing. All the JCU offices involved with Student Life contribute to guiding students to develop their interests and further their goals. As Dean of Students, my role often centers around students’ needs. My daily tasks vary between scheduling doctor’s visits, consulting on student conduct issues, speaking to parents, updating partner universities on an ongoing issue, and mediating student conflicts. My hope is that my work allows students to reflect on their behavior, learn from their experiences, and make choices that reflect their passions.
My role at present also involves implementing COVID-related policies and protocols. The most rewarding part of my job is when students are able to face a challenge or obstacle with newfound confidence and determination thanks to the collective efforts of my team.
How does the Dean of Students’ office support and guide JCU students? What services and/or opportunities are students provided with?
We have a JCU emergency phone number that students can call at any time. The Dean of Students office consults on all urgent Residence Life concerns and emergencies and oversees the JCU Conduct Process. I work with the Director of Health and Wellbeing, Roman Clark, to manage students’ medical needs, including hospital visits and counseling appointments. I also work with the JCU Doctor on Call, Dr. Andrea Guerriero, in the management of student health and COVID-related cases. I’m the supervisor of the JCU Residence Directors and work closely with all Residential Life staff to manage students’ daily needs in their living environments. We also assist in the management of non-JCU-housing student concerns, such as obtaining a Codice Fiscale number or filing a police report.
Prior to students’ arrival, I lead pre-departure orientation sessions and provide content for the JCU Online Orientation portal, specifically the Safety Session to educate students on best practices when abroad and on the variety of resources they can use in an emergency.
Where do you see JCU in 10 years?
I see JCU continuing to be a leader in study abroad and international education. The University is expanding to include new degree programs and every year we welcome more and more students from around the world. Studying and living in a foreign environment provides a unique lens to see the world, and by consequence, reflect on your own personal and professional identity.