Stellenbosch University
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A Day in the Life: Lisinda de Jager
Author: Corporate Communications and Marketing
Published: 21/05/2024

Serving as the cluster education coordinator at the Division of Student Affairs and resident Head of Heemstede, Lisinda de Jager plays a pivotal role in shaping students' out-of-class experiences at Stellenbosch University (SU). Leveraging her legal background and a deep passion for student development, De Jager actively supports and manages leadership initiatives, enhancing community as well as personal growth among a diverse body of students. As we started May celebrating Workers' Day, we dedicate this series of profiles to our staff and their crucial contributions to SU.

What does your role at SU entail? 

My role as a cluster education coordinator is based within the Centre for Student Life and Learning, working with the bigger team in the Division of Student Affairs. I have overall responsibility for developing, supporting, and managing out-of-class educational experiences for students within Rubix cluster. I coordinate leadership support within Rubix, working closely with student leaders and staff, specifically the team in Student Affairs. Apart from that, I am the resident head of Heemstede. I share a living and learning space with 219 students, including prospective teachers, social workers, accountants, engineers and the like.

What does a typical day at work look like? 

It is difficult to pin down a typical day because no two days are the same. The student communities' space is fluid. In general, I attend meetings on student facilities, develop training materials and coordinate projects in student communities. Some days I'm involved with disciplinary matters. I meet with student leaders from various structures throughout the day and in the evenings. Some meetings are about structural and organisational duties and responsibilities, but many also centre around the health and wellbeing of students, their academic success, social inclusion and belonging.

Many evenings and weekends are spent with student development offerings. I am fortunate to have a high degree of autonomy over my work, so I have space to be creative in my duties, collaborate with colleagues and other divisions and connect with students. I am thankful that my role also allows me the flexibility to make time for family and personal growth.

How did your education or past experiences prepare you for this job?  

I am a SU alumnus and I hold a master's degree in law. I practised as an attorney before I joined the Division of Student Affairs in March 2016. My role requires a high level of adaptability because change is a constant in this position. It requires of me a willingness to learn from and with our students.

My previous work taught me to be comfortable with conflict, and to appreciate the complexity and diversity of communities and individuals. It taught me how to be professional and how to build relations and listen attentively. With our work, we need to be able to understand what is said, but also listen to what is not said.

My legal background assists me in being analytical; it assists me in drafting policies, standards and other documents. My life and work experience (previously and now) has helped me be realistic about learning from tough times and failures and using it as building blocks for the future.

What do you enjoy most about your role and working at SU? 

The students. Their vibrancy, resilience and the way they move forward is truly inspiring. My work is not a job, it is a lifestyle. It offers me the opportunity to journey with students as they transition from school to university. Witnessing their personal development and how they grapple with change and challenges, is truly remarkable.

Tell us something exciting about yourself that few people would expect?

I am passionate about public speaking and debating and I have been involved in competitions since 2008, where I serve as an accredited national adjudicator. Something else that gives me pleasure, is playing the piano and the accordion. My dream is to accompany a choir one day.

PHOTO: Stefan Els