Madison Miyakawa on planting roots

Madison+Miyakawa%2C+Associate+Director+of+Campus+Life+at+Westmont

Noah Nims

Madison Miyakawa, Associate Director of Campus Life at Westmont

Angela Tran , Staff Writer

As Westmont’s new Associate Director of Campus Life, Madison Miyakawa can be found overseeing first-year orientation, coordinating on-campus clubs and supporting student development.

Miyakawa’s story started in Texas, first in McKinney and later in Waco working in administration at her church. Earlier this year, she graduated from Indiana’s Taylor University, receiving a master’s of arts degree in higher education and student development.

During this year’s first-year orientation, Miyakawa worked closely with Westmont’s Dean of Student Engagement, Angela D’Amour, to organize the events and people. She realized that returning students on Orientation Team had a greater knowledge of Westmont than she did, both geographically and culturally. She decided to “use that as a resource, and not try to assume that [she knows] everything about the school … It’s been a fun learning process.”

Miyakawa hopes that more people will hang out in the upper Kerr Student Center (KSC) this year. “I love getting to know students,” she says, “and the campus life staff is really great … The people are what makes Westmont so special.” She is also grateful to work at a Christian college. “My faith impacts all of my life,” she says, “so I wanted to be at a school that understood and encouraged that.” Miyakawa appreciates being able to approach “hard topics about student development, academics, race and diversity … with a Biblical view. [Faith gives] a well-rounded view on things.”

In addition to Miyakawa’s experience in student development, her expertise in mathematics has shaped her. She is proud that in her graduating class of math majors she was one of a total of five women. “We all got so close,” she says, “like, ‘the math girls’ … Having that friendship bond of, ‘we’re gonna do hard things together,’ was really impactful on me.” Miyakawa wrote her master’s thesis on women in STEM, the role of women professors and peers, and how that impacts retention. 

Reflecting on these past few years, Miyakawa says, “I’ve moved around a lot since graduating college, and have prayed over the years about where I’m supposed to plant roots.” Through a long process of prayer, she realized that “being in Santa Barbara and getting involved with the local church … all of it is a blessing.” Miyakawa hopes that her story of unpredictability can encourage students who don’t know where they’re supposed to end up. She says, “Nothing is what I thought it would be, but it’s so much better! And that’s a testament to God’s faithfulness. You don’t always know what your path’s going to be.”

For anyone struggling to connect with the student body, Miyakawa hopes they can utilize the resources of campus clubs and events “to get involved and meet people who have similar interests.” Her main advice is this: “Your time in college is so unique … [Take] advantage of your professors and their knowledge, and the community around you. It’s a really cool opportunity to grow.”

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