Meet Shanta Bhoelai, CCAPS’s newest enrollment advisor for noncredit professional development

Shanta Bhoelai was working as a veterinary technician at a local animal hospital, tending to sick and wounded pets and their anxious parents, when she started reconsidering her career choice.

“It was a really stressful job. There was a moment one morning at 2 a.m. when a man brought in an elderly monkey that was not breathing properly. The man was understandably freaking out and, when the monkey didn’t make it, he blamed us for not saving him. I was like, ‘This is not what I had in mind’,” she says. 

Aside from the vet tech certificate, Shanta had a couple years’ worth of community college credits but no degree. She had always wanted to attend the U and was aware that employees were able to take classes at a discounted rate, so she started looking for customer service and administrative jobs and applied for an opening in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies (CCAPS). 

Shanta Bhoelai with open smile and cloud reflections in water behind her

“I had never heard of CCAPS before. But I love the nontraditional aspect and how it concentrates on unique students in unique situations, and how it’s for students of all ages and touches departments and colleges all over the Twin Cities campus. There’s really something for everyone,” says Shanta, who started as a learner representative in CCAPS’s Information Center in 2018. From there, she became an enrollment assistant, started on an individualized bachelor’s degree, and earlier this year, was hired as the enrollment advisor for noncredit professional development programs. 

“The enrollment advisor position is designed to be not only the first point of contact a prospective learner has with the college, but also to be a comprehensive resource along their educational journey with us,” says Greg Harmon, associate director of enrollment management. “Hiring Shanta into this crucial position was a no-brainer. She has consistently risen to new challenges set in front of her, and her efforts have already positively impacted thousands of students in their professional development journey with us.”

Below, Shanta describes the importance of the enrollment advisor and what a typical day looks like, her goals for the future, and what she’s most proud of.

What is special about CCAPS’s enrollment advisor program? 

We used to have an Information Center, which is common for many big institutions and where I started out. I really learned a lot about the College and made a ton of connections, because we fielded all sorts of questions and connected them to other people or departments. But we usually didn’t see them again after that first meeting. 

A few years ago, the College decided to upgrade and develop a more in-depth resource for students across the educational spectrum and that became the enrollment advisor program. As a learner rep, the information people were seeking was general and broad. But as an enrollment advisor, I need to have comprehensive knowledge about one area within CCAPS: all the noncredit professional development programs. 

So, for anyone going through our noncredit programs, we can talk face-to-face (which is through Zoom, at the moment), and I can answer questions like what courses are the best fit, where to find specific resources, what types of learners attend the programs, and the like.

What attracted you to the enrollment advisor position?

It’s really cool to be talking to and advising folks from all different walks of life about their career aspirations. They tell me their stories and we talk about what they want out of life. It’s a longer term relationship and not just a one-time meeting.

I also got a lot of encouragement to pursue the position from Greg, my supervisor, who told me he had a lot of confidence and faith in me. CCAPS is the first place I’ve worked where I felt like my employer really cared about me and pushed me to further myself, both personally and professionally.

What does a typical day look like?

On any given day, I could be talking to someone who wants to change careers or get a promotion. Or it could be someone whose kids have all moved out and they want to get back into the workforce. We discuss what they’re aiming for and it’s my job to know what courses they can take to learn a specific needed skill. Say they have experience in organizational development and they want to upskill or get into a higher position—I can help them focus on what programs would help them fill in skills gaps that would help get them to that next level.

I may also interface with community college counselors, counselors from the Workforce Center, or even an employer about organizing a group course or program based on their organization or team’s needs. I attend career fairs and I moderate the professional development webinars that CCAPS offers throughout the year.

What are your long-term professional goals?

Shanta Bhoelai sits on a bench with head leaning on right hand left hand on left knee

I’ve taken some courses in the Project Management Certificate, so I’m looking forward to finishing up that program.

I’ve also been going through CCAPS’ Multidisciplinary Studies degree program, which is super cool. I have interests in a lot of different areas and that program allows me to explore those. 

I’ve decided I want to go towards family counseling because, as a Black woman, it’s very difficult to find a Black therapist and especially a Black family therapist. I want to help overcome some generational curses that plague a lot of Black families. 

What are you most proud of?

People put their trust in me to guide them and that’s a pretty big honor because, you know, it’s their future. When I was first going through college, I don’t feel like I had this type of advice from a person who was, like, “This is what you can do, this is your potential,” or anyone encouraging me to take a leap. So I want to do that for the people I meet with and that’s what I really enjoy.