Bronco Spotlight: Haylee Knowles

Photo of Haylee Knowles

Master of Public Administration, 2018

Executive Assistant Senior at Western Michigan University 

I provide administrative and strategic support to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. I am involved in the planning and facilitation of Integrated Leadership, Provost's Council, and Academic Forum meetings; this affords me the opportunity to work closely alongside all Vice Presidents/senior executives at the university and provides me with ample experience with decision-making and planning at the highest level of an institution of higher education. 

What is the most rewarding and the most challenging part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my professional experience - as opposed to my academic one - at Western Michigan University has been the exposure to exceptional leaders at every level, and the especially meaningful connections with fearless female ones!   Six years ago, I accepted an entry-level position at the university working in the Parking Services office with the goal of pursuing a graduate degree. Before long, I was managing that office and serving in a support role to the interim Deputy Chief of Police; I had also been admitted to the School of Public Affairs and Administration in pursuit of a master's. I decided to have two children for a little extra excitement during that time, as well. Shortly after I gave birth to my second daughter, I accepted a position as an executive assistant to Dr. Earlie Washington, dean of the college of health and human services. I continued to grow professionally while pursuing my graduate education. Just over one year ago, I was extended an offer to be the Executive Assistant Senior to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, a position I love and am extraordinarily proud of. And, this coming weekend, I get to participate in my first ever commencement in which I will be awarded my Master of Public Administration! It will be exceedingly significant, considering I will be accompanied on stage by a 'platform party' of individuals who contributed in powerful ways to my success.  It is overwhelming - in the best way imaginable - to step back and reflect on my time spent here. This university has truly transformed me in the most incredible ways, not just professionally and academically but personally. I am one very proud BRONCO. Thank you to all who welcomed me to this university with open arms and gave me millions of reasons over the course of the last six years to stay. I now understand why people come here and decide to never leave. 

What experiences impacted the choice of your career path?

Most of my career path has been shaped by happenstance. As long as I am part of a team and have opportunities to laugh each day, I am happy. As I have progressed through various positions at the university, I have been inspired by the dedication, knowledge, and leadership of every one of my bosses. I have embraced their guidance along the way and developed professionally in significant ways thanks to their willingness to shape me and influence the trajectory of my career. I would say the opportunity to progressively accept new challenges and positions over the last several years and the leaders I have encountered along that journey are both equally influential in guiding my career path. Even with the completion of my graduate degree, I remain open to an ongoing journey and do not consider any career a destination; I believe the path is enduring. 

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