Isaiah Collier brings experience and ideas to Washburn

Students attend college with the goal to earn a degree, but many walk away from the experience with much more.
Isaiah Collier, director of student involvement and development, advocates for Washburn students to get involved, join clubs and network during their college career.
Collier’s job involves helping students connect and develop stronger social skills. Part of his job includes advising Washburn Student Government Associaton and Campus Activities Board. He also helps plan and host campus events, such as WU Fest.
Every day looks a little different for Collier, but he enjoys the mixture of tasks that come with his job.
“I really enjoy CAB because I think they have a wide variety of programs that they offer students, and I’ve definitely enjoyed knowing I have jumped in a path working with them to sponsor or implement those programs,” Collier said.
Collier wears many hats in his role. In addition to sponsoring and implementing programs, Collier also collaborates and works directly with students in order for their voices to be heard.
“As the advisor of WSGA and CAB, I think it’s my responsibility to hear whatever the students’ concerns are and be that liaison to upper administration,” Collier said. “My style is – I will give you advice and let you go forth and then students either take the advice or they could choose to leave it. I definitely choose to encourage and empower student organizations.”
Collier’s position is not a regular nine to five job. He believes that people would be surprised to find out the number of hours that he and his colleagues put into their work. However, he also believes the time spent working is worth it.
“When you choose to go into these career opportunities, you are in fact choosing to work those longer hours and there’s a lot of payouts,” Collier said. “Just working with students and seeing them succeed — that’s the payout.”
Another benefit of working many hours is building strong relationships with coworkers. Collier and Danielle Dempsey-Swopes, director of diversity and inclusion, work closely together and maintain a positive relationship.
“Part of the reason why it’s great is because we are like-minded in being student centered in that there are lots of creative and wonderful things that we want in terms of multicultural programs and engagement and development programs,” Dempsey-Swopes said. “But, both of us realize that it’s important that the students’ needs come first, and the students’ ideas — we need to hear those and listen and guide them if those ideas are kind of crazy to arrive, rather than shut those ideas down.”
Dempsey-Swopes enjoys working with Collier and believes he has positively impacted his department. He has done so by being a fresh pair of eyes in their processes, as well as bringing helpful experiences with him and asking critical questions.
One of the first projects Collier and Dempsey-Swopes collaborated on includes the Multicultural Intersectional Learning Space located in the basement of the Union. This space was created for social justice programming, as well as to help students feel liberated and find a sense of belonging. When Collier came to Washburn, he jumped right into the project.
Although COVID-19 gave the space a slow start, Collier and Dempsey-Swopes now have big plans for the space this fall. They are looking forward to hosting events, such as social engagement and social justice conversation sessions, showing of relevant docuseries and various diversity workshops.
MILS was the first of many projects for Collier. Since then, he has used his creativity and experience to brainstorm new events, recruit speakers and advocate for student voices.
Collier’s job is an essential part of Washburn and the experience students take from college.
Both Collier and Dempsey-Swopes see value in student involvement on campus.
“It’s some of these things outside of the classroom that let them be themselves, truly be who they are, and still learn a great deal about themselves and each other,” Dempsey-Swopes said. “He’s just the key to keep that forefront. What we’re doing outside of the classroom is not just funding games, but it is truly for students’ development and a big part of it, and he’s good at helping design things that keep us focused on that purpose.”