Kyla Sterling’s days are full of students. At any given moment she is advising, assisting or overseeing some of them in the Terry College of Business.
As the assistant director of student engagement in the college’s Office of Undergraduate Student Services and Corporate Relations, Sterling strives to help students build their networks, make connections and ultimately land a job.
“I really value being able to provide help and support students and making a difference in their lives,” she said.
In her current role, Sterling facilitates many Terry College programs, including Terry Ambassadors, Terry Connect, Terry Peer Link and the Business Ready Initiative. One of her main objectives is to orchestrate meetings between the college’s alumni and current students. Sterling does this by organizing events such as roundtable discussions with alumni, a monthly panel series and “flash mentoring” opportunities that allow students to meet with alumni one-on-one. These events are helpful to students because they provide guidance and can open doors to internships and careers.
Sterling also oversees the Terry Women’s Initiative, a personal passion of hers. The inclusive organization is dedicated to providing students with the opportunities and resources for academic and professional success.
“We want to show students that they can succeed in so many ways,” Sterling said. “And it is confidence as much as ability that defines our potential.”
The student-centered initiative was founded in 2015 with the support of UGA alumna Betsy Camp, who was joined by UGA alumnae Debbie Storey, Elisha Finney, Bonney Shuman, Laura Brightwell and Elizabeth Deeley. It hosts events such as corporate site visits, the Sea Island Scholars retreat and networking opportunities.
“My personal philosophy is that we just need more women leaders,” Sterling said. “We are growing that generation right now. These are fearless women who are willing to go out and work hard.”
Before she began working at UGA in 2014, Sterling was an English composition and literature lecturer for three years at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she received her master’s degree in creative writing. While teaching, Sterling thoroughly enjoyed interacting with her students, helping them solve problems and succeed. She’s been able to incorporate that passion in her current job at Terry College.
“This role helps me feel like I get to do a little bit of teaching,” she said. “I have a lot of one-on-one interactions with students where I advise them on their job and internship searches or help them get plugged into Terry College’s organizations and programs. I find that relationship building to be really meaningful.”
Sterling likes to use her own path to UGA to illustrate how one’s career can take unplanned twists and turns. She said that many of her students believe that their major will ultimately define the rest of their lives. Sterling thinks that can’t be further from the truth, and she is living proof.
“I didn’t think that a master’s degree in creative writing was going to translate to working in a business school,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to model to these students that life takes you in unexpected places and that you just don’t know what opportunities are going to come to you.”