September 19, 2023

Michael Paz (he/him) ’21

Michael Paz ’21 says it is crucial when working in higher education to think about power and privilege with any decision he makes. He credits Lewis & Clark’s SAA program with instilling in him the importance of slowing down and asking questions that have not been asked before.

Michael Paz '21 Michael Paz ’21

MA Student Affairs Administration ’21

Current Position

Graduate Student Affairs Officer, Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program


UC Berkeley


Berkeley, CA

I support PhD students as they navigate funding, Berkeley policy, and resources. No two days are the same and I would say it’s 70% program management and 30% student facing work.

When you joined the SAA program at Lewis & Clark, what career path did you plan to pursue?

I wanted to get into Institutional Research when I began. My career before SAA was mostly student facing and I wanted to work “behind the scenes” to make change in higher ed.

By the end of the program, did you have a different career outcome in mind? What either reinforced your original goal, or sent you in a different direction?

I think a part of me still wanted to do more work around systems (shout out to Prof Sifuentez), but my life had been about working with students for so long that it became a part of me. In order to change (or make progress towards change), I knew I still wanted to engage with students in some way.

Where did you complete your practicum and what was that experience like?

I did my practicums during the onset of Covid. I started physically in the financial aid office at LC, but then it moved to remote. For the most part, I really enjoyed working with folks in the field and learning how quick (and slow) higher ed works. Honestly, it helped me continue working on the endurance you need to “fight the good fight” while trying to change institutions for the better. I’m still working on this skill. I also voluntarily was able to support Institutional Research at LC. I got a lot of great insight (and mentorship!) from Renée Orlick. She showed me the power in data and the humanity in caring about what you do as a higher ed admin. I’m in debt to her training, friendship, and influence.

How do you apply what you learned at L&C to your daily work?

Often times, my job will value efficiency and speed. Professor Sifuentez and Valles taught me that this mentality overlooks how important it is to sit and think about power and privilege with any decision we make. Student affairs requires you to ask why are we doing what we’re doing and who do we affect with these choices. I proudly take my time and ask questions that sometimes have never been asked because my time in the SAA program taught me to do that.