Trinity welcomes new Coordinator of Student Organizations and Leadership

Harlena Munnings stepped into her role on Nov. 1

Photo+provided+by+Harlena+Munnings

Samuel Damon

Photo provided by Harlena Munnings

After just over four years as coordinator for Student Programs, Shannon Twumasi stepped down in July 2021 and Trinity created a search committee of faculty, staff and students to fill the position. Harlena Munnings, the previous program coordinator for student organizations at Penn State, answered their call and began overseeing student life at Trinity on Nov. 1.

In tandem with their search, the committee rebranded the position’s title to the coordinator of Student Organizations and Leadership.

“We thought that [title] provided a more accurate picture because this individual will support all student organizations in addition to providing coaching and leadership development opportunities,” said Esther Kim, assistant director of Orientation Programs in the Office of Student Involvement and a member of the search committee.

Munnings spoke in an interview on the importance of leadership in students’ lives and how she will work to cultivate it at Trinity.

“I think with the leadership aspect, not only is the role critical to the student organization development but also helping the students in these organizations to grow as leaders and whole people,” Munnings said. “I want to provide them with opportunities that would help them to transition in their roles, to prepare them for after they leave the university.”

Having come from such a large school as Penn State, Munnings explained that she wanted to come to Trinity because of its size. She received her Masters in collegiate student affairs at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL. and is excited to transition back to a smaller school after Penn State.

“I missed the small school feel and that ability to connect with other people — being able to know who my peers were and the students who I’m working with,” Munnings said. “In my past role at Penn State, I worked with a large number of students, so I’ve seen many students coming through, and I had the opportunity to connect with some students but not on a greater scale. Going back to a small school will allow me the opportunity to actually see things thoroughly with how I’m impacting students and how I’m able to connect and work with them.”

In the job, Munnings will act as a direct advisor to the Student Programming Board and as one of the advisors for the other university-sponsored organizations. Kim explained the importance of the role to student life at Trinity in general.

“This position is very critical to the student experience as many of our students are part of at least one student organization,” Kim said. “It’s a great liaison and a connection to our students. They are critical in making sure students are supported and in coaching students to find their own community on campus from the very beginning. They are the keeper of all the information regarding all of the student organizations, how to get involved and activity on campus.”

Munnings attributed her interest in student life to her own experiences as an undergraduate student at Johnson and Wales University-North Miami.

“As a first-generation college student, I had mentors and people to help me on campus,” Munnings said. “I want to do the same thing. Just thinking about my own experiences as a student, I want to make the same impact. I want to see students grow and enjoy their experience holistically.”

Coming into Trinity, Munnings does not have a specific initiative in mind but wants to focus on observing the student landscape first.

“I think whenever you are going into a new space, it’s less of going in and doing, but learning first,” Munnings said. “I need to learn who the community is, who Trinity truly is, what the student experience is and how, from those elements, I can be the person to assist them. I want to look at programs happening now on campus, observe what challenges or successes may exist and where I am needed at this moment.”

Trinity’s Student Involvement services encourage students, faculty and staff to stop by the Student Involvement Office in Coates 112 to come and meet and welcome Munnings.

“I am looking forward to being a part of the community and learning and connecting with others on Trinity’s campus,” Munnings said.