Building community is something the south Florida native Rachel Head takes seriously. "The work of the Dean's Office does nothing if not complement and support the work of the classroom," she says. "We're another community of teachers, here to add on to what's learned elsewhere on campus."
Head came to Swarthmore in June 2008 from Dartmouth College, where for two years she led a program focused on integrating faculty into residential education activities. She previously served in the student life offices of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, the Center for Academic Programs Abroad in London, England, and the University of South Florida, where she coordinated volunteer activities and service learning in the University's Center for Civic Engagement.
Head holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Florida State University and an M.ED. from the University of South Florida. After working as a greek-housing graduate assistant during graduate school, she started looking for ways to incorporate social work into her work with college-aged students.
"I've worked with students who've had challenges and for whom going home over break isn't a good thing," she says. "This is where my counseling and communication skills as a social worker are transferable. In a 'person in environment' system, like in social work and in college, some of the most basic theories are the same."
Ultimately, Head says everyone at Swarthmore wants the same thing: "For students to be successful, to help them try to figure out who they are and who they want to be, and to provide opportunities for them to explore and challenge some of the ideas that maybe they've always accepted."