Beth Bodiya wasn’t anticipating a career switch when she decided to pursue her master’s degree through Concordia University Ann Arbor.

The 27 year old from Romeo, Michigan, was working as a high school teacher when she enrolled in the Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education (SPAHE) program. Grounded in student affairs theory and designed for people interested in working in higher education, the SPAHE program was brand new to CUAA when Bodiya started, but that didn’t deter her from landing internships with two prominent universities in Michigan because of connections her professors had forged.

The initial goal was simply to obtain a master’s degree as part of her ongoing professional development, says Bodiya, but that quickly changed once she began the program and experienced what working in higher education was like.

“I’ve found more opportunities in higher ed to support students in non-academic areas,” says Bodiya. “Discovering student narratives and stories helps to build deeper relationships with students I work with.”

On May 14, she and her 14 other classmates, who make up the inaugural cohort to graduate with SPAHE master’s degrees from CUAA, will cross the commencement stage and continue their pursuits of meaningful student connections at universities throughout the state and beyond.

“We’re really pleased and proud to see the individuals who are the first to come out of this program,” said John Rathje, SPAHE advisor and dean of students at CUAA. “We’re excited to continue this mission of educating graduate students on Christian leadership principles so that they can in turn develop students at the post-secondary level.”

The SPAHE courses are specifically designed for individuals with busy lives, says Rathje. Each course meets for eight weeks, one night a week. The program can be completed in two years.

Students who enroll in SPAHE can opt for two different tracks: student affairs administration or athletic administration, for those who want to work in collegiate athletics in some capacity.

Bodiya opted for the student affairs administration track and has been hired to a full-time position at the University of Michigan, one of the two universities with which she interned. She will serve as program specialist for first year experience, helping incoming students to navigate their new lives at the university and to take advantage of the resources available to them.

“It’s been amazing to serve the students who are in the same place I was at 10 years ago,” Bodiya says. “It’s really been the perfect fit.”

Concordia ended up being a perfect fit as well, says Bodiya. She had never heard of Concordia before visiting the campus two years ago for a professional development opportunity with her high school colleagues. The SPAHE program offered the flexibility she needed though and, once enrolled, she learned Concordia also offered the support she didn’t realized she’d appreciate.

“I definitely felt blessed when Concordia was creating this new program,” says Bodiya. “I love that Concordia is its own, caring community and I really have felt like that with my cohort as well.”

Hear more student testimonies and learn more about the SPAHE program at

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Ann Arbor and Wisconsin. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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