Allison ReichAudrey Kennis

Multicultural Liaison Officer
Academic Adviser, Bachelor of Design

Degrees and expertise
BA, Clarke University, Dubuque, Iowa, Philosophy and Elementary Education MEd, Iowa State University, Higher Education, Community College Leadership (anticipated 2014)

Where to find her
290 Design
(515) 294-9555

About Audrey
Audrey Kennis is the College of Design's multicultural liaison officer (MLO). She works directly with prospective and current students from diverse backgrounds, especially those from underrepresented groups. She helps identify, develop and coordinate various educational, cultural and social activities geared toward multicultural students but inclusive of all students.  

Audrey can help you find resources to inform your decision about attending Iowa State University, such as university-wide programs and services as well as programs and services within the College of Design that cater specifically to the needs of multicultural students. This includes information on scholarships, student organizations and academic support. Once you arrive at Iowa State for your first year, Audrey can guide you through the application process at the end of your Core experience with workshops and one-on-one support.

In addition to her duties as MLO and an academic adviser, Audrey serves on the college and university diversity committees, Academic Standards Council, and the Design Orientation Council. She is also the adviser for NOMAS (National Organization of Minority Architecture Students).

Audrey graduated from East High School in Denver, Co., where she participated in speech/debate, sign language club and dance. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Elementary Education at Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa, in 2008, and is working toward her Master of Education degree in Higher Education/Community College Leadership from Iowa State.

Before joining the College of Design in August 2013, Audrey was a senior transfer admissions counselor with ISU Admissions, where she coordinated the Multicultural Transfer Visit Days, the multicultural newsletter and other activities. She previously was an admissions counselor for underrepresented populations and community liaison at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa.

She is the founder and co-chair of the Black Faculty & Staff Association at Iowa State and a committee member and game show coordinator for the “I’ll Make Me a World In Iowa” event in Des Moines.

What led you to become an MLO?
Soon after I started working at Iowa State, I learned about the MLOs and what their jobs entailed. Instantly, I fell in love with the position. I have always had a passion for working with underrepresented, underserved and marginalized populations, whose voices are not often heard or included in the greater dialogue. I recognize how vital it is to have someone serving as a resource to help students get connected and advocating on their behalf. To serve as that representative is a great honor and privilege.

What are some of the highlights of your role as an MLO?
Creating an honest, safe and engaging college environment for students to discuss issues of diversity and exploring how it relates to their lives and future professions, is one of the highlights of my job. Oftentimes, students do not recognize nor understand how diversity is inherent to the world of design. I find great joy in helping students begin and continue the dialogue and its relevance in everyday life.

I also enjoy working with students to navigate and identify academic resources and leadership opportunities within and outside of the college to increase their success.

What do you enjoy most about working with students?
I enjoy watching students progress and evolve, as they become their own person and form new ideas. Seeing their enthusiasm when they learn and master new concepts is one of the best parts of my job.

Why did you choose to attend Iowa State for your master’s degree?
Having earned a bachelor’s degree in Iowa, I recognize the strength and value of an Iowa education. Iowa State, in particular, has a highly acclaimed master’s program in higher education. And having worked in higher education, I understand the importance of continuing my education. With Iowa State being close in proximity, it would be irrational not to take advantage of the opportunity in my own backyard.

How do your own experiences help you relate to students?
When I went to college, I was unfamiliar with the world of higher education and was unsure of what questions to ask. I did not have a lot of financial or family support, resulting in my having to learn how to advocate for myself. This experience helped me to better understand some of the challenges students face while trying to pursue their education. It also helped me recognize the resilient nature of students and how to help them turn a roadblock into a stepping stone.

What is special about the College of Design?
The College of Design is unique and unlike any other place I’ve experienced. You find eclectic individuals, hear a variety of languages and viewpoints, and see many styles and personalities. You feel an electrifying energy when you walk through the door.

What is your favorite place on the Iowa State campus and why?
I love to sit in the south lawn by MacKay Hall and gaze at an artwork called “Border Crossing” by Luis Jimenez. It reminds me of the struggles so many people had to overcome for us to be here.