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Priya Thomas – Campus Success Lead

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At our core, we believe in a holistic approach to student success. The Knack Pack isn’t exclusive to our employees – it encompasses the advisors and investors and thought leaders who help make sure that our approach to make learning more accessible is as holistic as possible. 

If there’s one member of The Knack Pack who embodies that mission, it’s Priya Thomas. 

Where are you from?

I’m from Sedalia, Missouri!

Where did you go to college and what did you get your degree in?  

I attended the University of Missouri, where I earned a B.A. in Psychology and an M.Ed in Counseling Psychology.

What was your favorite class in college?

Cultural Anthropology.

I love learning about different cultures/groups and how they develop. What made it memorable, though, was a particular assignment where we had to observe a group (with their permission, of course) for a period of time and write about that. 

I chose the Evans Scholars fraternity on campus, which is made up of students who were golf caddies in high school and earned this particular scholarship for college. My college roommate was the first female member of the Mizzou fraternity in the chapter’s history. Our residence hall was right across the street from the fraternity house, so we naturally spent a lot of time there. She was the first official sister of the chapter and I became an unofficial sister by virtue of time spent with the group. 

Even though it was a familiar and friendly environment for me, it was fascinating to be there for class as an observer and write things down for my project. What makes it even more meaningful is that I became a fraternity advisor years later in my higher education career. You could say this class and that project served as a great training ground for that incredibly rewarding and special adventure. 

How did you end up working with Knack?

I first started working with Knack in 2018 when they approached me to write for the company blog. They were interested in what my college wellness and peer education experience could lend to their focus on peer support and academic success. I was curious about this as well, so I said yes! 

I worked with Knack in a freelance capacity for a couple years and really enjoyed our working relationship. So, when the full-time role of Campus Success Lead opened, I was excited to apply and thrilled to accept the role. 

Before this, I worked in campus-based roles, including directing a wellness department for 10 years as well as working in a college counseling center and being the advisor and faculty fellow for a fraternity. In these roles, I regularly collaborated with partners across campus to work together and promote student wellness. I also did some consulting and other writing work. I’m excited to be a part of the Knack Pack collaborating with campus partners in a role that aligns with my holistic approach to supporting student success. 

What’s one skill you use often that you weren’t necessarily taught in school? 

Cooking. I took Home Economics in school, but that covers the basics, which is all you need when you’re really young. As you get older, though, and live on your own, and if you like to eat good food or eat healthy, you have to learn how to cook. I learned how to do this by watching a lot of Food Network, reading about food, trying new foods, and trying new recipes. There’s still so much to learn and try, so it’s definitely a delicious skill that’s fun to practice! 

What’s something you wish you had learned in college but didn’t?

I wish I had learned more about money – retirement, investments, and insurance – but also about your relationship with money and how that develops with considerations for different stages of life. I don’t know that I would have been excited to learn about all of this in college, but I’m sure the right professor could have made it interesting and relevant. 

Do you have any advice for current college students? 

Life is not linear. We grow up thinking it is because we plan out our futures according to who will be in it, what we will be doing, where we will be living or who we will become, all within our own determined timeline. . . but then life happens and, usually, sometime after college, if not before, you find out life is not a straight line. It’s a curvy and winding road, full of unexpected opportunities, people, and experiences you could have never planned on anyway.  Sometimes it takes longer to get where you thought you were going, and sometimes you end up somewhere you never imagined. Either way, that’s life. . . it’s not linear, and it may not be what you thought it was, but it’s still pretty good. It can even be great.