A Double Dosage of Happiness: Meet Our Newest Teammates, Amber and Joanna

Here at Presence, waiting around for requests for support isn’t our style.

We prefer to work with our campus partners to make sure we’re already there when they need us. From onboarding to goal-setting and continuous support, we’re proactive collaborators who guide them through every part of the Presence journey.

Spearheading this lively support is our one and only Happiness team.  They’re the friendly folx whom our partners get to know the most, working together to optimize each institution’s Presence goals.

And as our number of campus partners continues to grow, so must our Happiness team! Today, we’re welcoming two new Happy folx. Meet Amber Clark, our newest Happiness Ally, and Joanna Rose-Gross, who’s joining us as a Happiness Expert.

Amber smiling while wearing a graduate cap and Joanna smiling while holding a cardboard instagram frame

left: Amber celebrating her recent grad school graduation from the University of West Georgia / right: Joanna celebrating Welcome at Illinois State University

Their first assignment? Tell us about themselves!

What lead you to Presence?

Amber: I love the fact that Presence is not your typical higher education setting but we are still working to enhance the student experience nationwide. I am a recent graduate of a student affairs program and I am interested in seeing how data and analytics play a role in student engagement and retention.

I also love that the company is located in my beautiful hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida!

Joanna: I took a break from the traditional higher ed space to reevaluate what it was I wanted from my career moving forward. It took a while to truly reflect beyond just position title and functional area and think more critically about why I enjoyed the work I have done.

When I saw the posting for the happiness expert position, I was able to see right away that all the things I needed in a position were listed in the description: A desire to critically think, creatively solve problems, help others, and work collaboratively with team members.

As I went through the interview process, I was drawn to the culture of the company, and their commitment to not only talking about equity and inclusion in our work but taking actions toward these ideals.

How do you see this position fitting into your future career? What benefits or experiences do you hope to gain from working at Presence?

Amber: The happiness ally position fits into my future career goals because it will allow me to strengthen my collaboration skills by working with our campus partners. I also will gain a great number of transferable skills that I can apply to any student affairs or higher education position. I am excited to work with a team of diverse individuals and gain a better understanding of how to serve students indirectly.

Joanna: One of the aspects of the job that I liked was that I would get to build long-term relationships with each campus while supporting them to engage students in their campus’ unique needs and goals.

I have a lot of different experiences from my student affairs work so not only am I hoping to hone my skills to help campuses engage their students in creative and developmental ways, but I’m also excited to learn from the experiences and expertise of the campus partners that use Presence. I’m looking forward to seeing how each campus uses the software differently, and how I can expand my tool kit to advise and consult others on the plethora of opportunities to utilize the software.

Where did you attend school? What was your major(s)? Were you involved with any co-curricular or extracurricular activities?

Amber: I completed my bachelor’s degree at Florida International University. I am a first-generation college student who was extremely involved in undergrad. I was a resident assistant, orientation leader, and a member of many black student leadership organizations.

I am also a recent graduate of the University of West Georgia, where I obtained a master’s of education concentrating in college student affairs. My passion for college students is what led me to where I am today!

Joanna: I went to SUNY Geneseo for my undergrad degree. I changed my major about five times, with one of those times being before I stepped foot on campus! I finally graduated with a degree in sociology and a minor in Spanish.

My campus was fairly small, so it was very easy and encouraged to be involved with different parts of campus life. I started by being involved in hall council and writing for the student newspaper. I then became an RA and served as an assistant residence director my senior year. I also sang in the chamber choir and was heavily involved with the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH). I am a member of the sorority Alpha Sigma Tau and am still involved as an alumna today! 

My involvement on campus led me to pursue a master’s degree in college student personnel administration from Illinois State University, where I was a graduate assistant in the Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution office.

Amber smiling with a wolf statue and Joanna holding her dog

Amber and Joanna with two of their favorite canines! / Amber posing with a statue of UWG’s mascot, Wolfie, and Joanna cuddling with her Jack Russell Terrier mix, AJ

Why are you excited to be a part of the Presence team?

Amber: I am excited to be a part of the Presence team because this is a company that takes pride in creating opportunities for all students so they can make the most of their college experience and graduate. I love that this company is inclusive, diverse, and actively practices how to remain socially aware. It proves they care about us as individual human beings and not just employees.

Joanna: When I got the call for my offer to join the Presence team, I was over the moon! As I went through the interview process, I was drawn to how each member of the team was truly themselves. It allowed me to feel one hundred percent comfortable to show up as my true self.

It was clear that everyone is passionate about the work at Presence and puts their best professional foot forward to support the team and campuses, but everyone also brings their personality and unique style to their work. I don’t think I have ever laughed as much as I did while getting to know the Presence team, which lived up to my mantra, “a day without laughter is a day wasted.” I’m excited to get to know everyone more virtually as I join the team, and hopefully get to see everyone in the office soon.

And yes, I am also very excited about all the pups at the office!

What do you like to do outside of work?

Amber: Eat! (I’m the definition of a foodie), travel, enjoy the outdoors, spend time with friends, tell dad jokes, rewatch classic shows, go to the beach, and get my nails done!

Joanna: I am big into fitness, although the pandemic has had me lose some of my motivation and consistency. I love working out with other people, which is why I love CrossFit (struggling with the company HQ at the moment, though) and obstacle course races, such as Spartan.

When I’m not doing fitness activities, I love to read and manage my bookstagram account, drink coffee, talk about current events, and explore local restaurants and bars. I also love collecting Funko pops and going into stores to see which ones I can find.

I also have a Jack Russell mix named AJ, after the WWE wrestler AJ Styles. I love taking him on adventures to dog parks and other dog-friendly places. I also love staying home with him and snuggling while watching The Golden Girls or Parks and Recreation. He’s also very excited that he can come to the office with me, sporting his bow tie and meeting lots of new human friends!

Amber on a bike and Joanna holding her arms up and wearing a medal proudly

Georgia Champions! / Amber biking on the Greenbelt in Carrollton, GA and Joanna celebrating her finish in the Atlanta Spartan Super

Amber: I’ve always wanted to go parasailing!

In the future, the goals I see myself accomplishing are becoming a better version of myself every day, being a business owner, eating my way through most of the states, and continuing to make myself and my community proud.

I am passionate about my family and food. I believe meals bring people together and that love is always shared between dishes.

Joanna: One goal I have in life is to own a bookstore. Reading has always been a major part of my life and something that I hold fiercely as part of my identity. I used to hide in the bathroom to read in peace away from my parents and younger siblings.

One of my favorite things to do is to roam through a bookstore, coffee in hand, and just relax. I would love to recreate that vision in my own bookstore — a place not just where someone comes to buy a book and leave, but also serves as a community space for people to gather, do work, and read in a comfortable space. There would also most definitely be some coffee available!

Welcome, Amber and Joanna!

We can’t wait for you to help spread even more happiness around.

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Jodi Tandet

About the author: Jodi Tandet loves writing about the magic of campus life as the Lead Storyteller at Presence. She's also passionate about baking, mental health advocacy, all the Presence office dogs, and her ever-growing podcast collection. Learn how we can help get your students involved.

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