Learning to Lead: Marist Alumna Wins ATHENA Young Professional Leadership Award
February 26, 2019—In the busy world of college admissions, Stephanie Espina ’09/‘14M stands out among her peers due to her passion and dedication to her work as Director of Freshman Admissions at Adelphi University. It’s not hard to see why she was recently awarded the ATHENA Long Island Young Professional Leadership Award, an honor exclusively given to women. According to the ATHENA website, the award is granted to “emerging women leaders that meet the criteria of demonstrating excellence, creativity, and initiative in her business or profession, providing valuable service to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and clearly serving as a role model for young women both personally and professionally.”
Espina embodies those ideals. She pays it forward to other women by volunteering at the Junior League of Long Island, a women’s volunteer organization that supports many community service projects directly benefiting women. In her community, she is on the planning board for Nassau County’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration Committee, which is led by Marist alumnus Rodney McRae '89, Executive Director of the Human Rights Commission.
Espina was nominated for the ATHENA award by her supervisor at Adelphi. “I was shocked and surprised that I was named the recipient for the Young Professional Leadership Award,” said Espina. “At the ceremony, I dedicated my award to all of the mentors in my life and asked the audience to pay it forward and serve as a mentor for someone else.”
A leader since her days as a student at Marist, Espina worked in the Admission Office and was a member of the Emerging Leaders Program. She graduated from Marist in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in communications; in 2014, she went on to receive her master’s in IMC (Integrated Marketing Communications).
Espina notes that her experience in communications translated well to her current job at Adelphi. “Writing frequently, creating publications, and giving presentations in a fast-paced environment can be stressful, but I enjoy it. I love working with and mentoring people at different levels of success in their careers.” She also notes that “being savvy on social media was also a great skill to have coming from my communications background because it is such a vital part of the admissions experience today.”
Espina is deeply involved in her local community and holds multiple board positions. She also serves on the advisory board for her alma mater, Sacred Heart Academy in Hempstead, New York as a way to give back to her high school. “One of the most cherished moments at my job as the Director of Freshman Admissions is having the opportunity to mentor students who attended the same high school I did because I see a bit of myself in each of those students,” says Espina. “I am lucky to serve in a role where mentoring students is in my job description. I enjoy presenting on college and career readiness, and always extend myself as a mentor. It is important to encourage and help students to reach their highest potential.” While at Marist, Espina found a mentor in Robin Diller Torres, Assistant Dean of Student Engagement & Leadership. She says, “Robin was a great resource for me throughout the four years of my college experience, and she is still so supportive of me today.”
When asked to give advice for women in the higher education field, Espina did not hesitate. “Do not doubt yourself. Challenge yourself and understand what inspires you. When you reach success, pay it forward to other women.”