Chaye Pena: Working to resolve complaints, concerns
Got a complaint? Chaye Pena works to resolve issues
Chaye Pena knows first-hand that the road through college is not always easy. As senior coordinator for Student and Academic Success (Student Affairs) she is at the other end of student complaints, concerns and petitions.
“I see petitions come in and I really relate to them,” she said. “I want to say ‘don’t give up.’ ”
A native of Kingsville, Pena attended Texas A&M-Kingsville where she eventually received her bachelor’s in business. But she admits it wasn’t smooth sailing.
At the end of her freshman year Pena found herself on scholastic probation.
“I liked college, but I was more interested in being an 18-year-old who didn’t have to answer to anyone.”
She took a year off and worked a full-time job. The job she landed was with the university’s TRiO office. TRiO is a set of federally-funded educational opportunity outreach programs that seek to motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds, primarily low-income, first-generation students.
Pena worked and she took a couple of classes each semester. She says it took her about seven years to get her bachelor’s degree. She immediately began graduate school at A&M-Corpus Christi where she received her MBA.
In 2009 Pena moved to San Antonio where she joined the University of Incarnate Word as an assistant director of leadership activities. Her husband, Daniel, works for Whataburger ‘s corporate offices. The couple has two daughters, Penelope, 4, and Piper, 22 months.
Since joining SAC in 2012 – first part-time, then full time in February – Pena’s duties have grown to include assisting in graduation, customer service training, and helping with the Distinguished Graduate program.
What is one of the most common complaints that come to her office? Her reply: “Someone was rude to me.”
Pena serves as the liaison between the student and the SAC department. Employees are getting more training to deal with customer service problems.
Grade disputes, payment problems are also common and Pena says that these are handled on a case-by-case basis.
“Students want quick answers … probably because of technology. But it takes time to get the information.”
Pena says her office is like a one-stop shop for student concerns/complaints. Her goal is to make the process better, but she does admit that many students don’t know there is a process. Complaint/concern forms and petitions can be found on the Student Affairs web page, www.alamo.edu/sac/StudentAffairs/
One of Pena’s innovations is the Student Affairs Superhero award, which she based on UTSA’s ‘Thank You Rowdy’ award. It is a way for employees of Student Services departments to give each other a pat on the back for exceptional customer service.
We wrapped up the interview with questions to Pena like those posed by Vanity Fair magazine (which are, in turn, taken from the Proust questionnaire):
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
An afternoon that involves a nap!
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Robin (from Batman & Robin) “he doesn’t get enough credit…”
What is the trait you most deplore in other people?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I’m not outspoken and I worry too much about what other people think.
Which living person do you most admire?
My 4-year-old. “I admire her strength.”