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Humans of the Hilltop: Anne Hollis

Many student organizations are housed in Sisson Hall, but the first floor is dedicated to faculty members who help students in times of need. One of those faculty members is Anne Hollis.

Hollis, the executive director for student support services, has been eagerly assisting and working with students at Bradley for almost 18 years. According to Hollis, the center is the first stop for students in crisis.

Hollis is there to help students sort through issues and prioritize what they need to do in order to work through these crises.

“I am not a counselor,” Hollis said.

Students dealing with financial issues, home issues, academic issues or mental health issues who do not know where to go to get help come to the center for Student Support Services for guidance, according to Hollis.

“Often they will start here, and we will help to navigate the best course of action for them in terms of support,” Hollis said.

Hollis started at Bradley in 1998, after earning her bachelor’s at Pennsylvania State University and her master’s at Iowa State University. According to Hollis, her supervisor in graduate school advised her to apply at Bradley because she knew who the boss of the position was.

“[He was] named Mike Murphy, and [my supervisor] said to me, ‘You would really enjoy this guy, like your personalities would click. You would really enjoy working for him,’” Hollis said. “And so, on her recommendation of him and Bradley, I applied for the job, and she was absolutely right.”

When she started at Bradley, Hollis was the director for the Lewis J. Burger Center for Student Leadership and Public Service, which focuses on volunteering and service-based learning.

“I thought Bradley was a good fit,” Hollis said. “It’s a good balance of size, and it’s not too small, but you can still have those personal relationships with students.”

However, Hollis said she was not planning on spending the majority of her career at Bradley.

“I originally thought, ‘Well, I’ll come to Bradley, and I’ll stay three to four years,’” Hollis said.

At first, Hollis said she decided to stay at Bradley for at least seven years until Murphy retired, but continued to work at Bradley until 2008 when she left to work at Easter Seals, an organization that helps people with disabilities, as well as the Illinois State Board of Education.

In 2013, she returned to the Center for Student Support Services at Bradley and has been working there ever since. Hollis said a big part of what she likes about working at Bradley is the faculty members she has worked with.

“We have a great team of people here, and you enjoy working with the students, but the staff has been consistent,” Hollis said. “The morale of the staff and the close relationships with the colleagues has really been what’s kept me here.”

Director of Residential Living Ryan Bair is someone who Hollis has worked closely with since Bair started at Bradley nine years ago.

“She was the director of residential living for a couple years, and so I interviewed on campus, and she was my host,” Bair said.

According to Bair, Hollis has always personally cared about the students, which is something that has not changed since he has known her.

“She’s always been dependable and trustworthy,” Bair said.

In her position now at the Center for Student Support Services, Hollis said she loves being able to make an impact on the students who visit her for help.

“This time of a students’ life-these four years of college-is such a time of growth and learning about who they are, and to share in that and to be part of that as they move forward is absolutely one of the benefits of student affairs,” Hollis said.

But despite all the help Hollis provides to students, Hollis said there are times when working at the Center for Student Support Services is difficult.

“My role with sexual misconduct is definitely challenging on a lot of days, and meeting with students who have experienced any sort of violation is always emotional,” Hollis said.

Hollis said it is upsetting at times to be limited in what she can do to assist students.

“What I think is hard is to be on campus sometimes and to want to check in with somebody and know how they’re doing and to have that person not make eye contact, like walk the other way because they don’t want any sort of connection to having experienced any sort of violation,” Hollis said. “You have to support that survivor’s right to move on however they want to.”

Bair said students shouldn’t be afraid of approaching Hollis if they need to.

“She is an inviting person; people feel comfortable going to talk to her which is great,” Bair said. “I think [Hollis] is an open personality.”

According to Hollis, her own college experience was fantastic, and she keeps that in mind when working with students now.

“I think about the people who made that happen for me, and in some way, to know that I am able to pay that forward or to be that person for somebody else is absolutely the best part of working here,” Hollis said.

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