Humans of Parkland: Chaya Sandler

Photo of Chaya Sandler by Scott Wells

Photo of Chaya Sandler by Scott Wells

Scott Wells

Staff Writer

It wasn’t difficult for Parkland’s Activities Program Manager Chaya Sandler to decide where she wanted to work after completing her studies at the University of Illinois.

“I was interested in working at a college where the students are hard-working and dedicated to pursuing an education to further their individual goals,” she said.

Sandler grew up in the Chicago suburb of Skokie. She came to the Champaign-Urbana area after high school where she majored in English and minored in African-American studies. Upon completion of her undergraduate studies, Sandler earned her master’s degree in higher education administration.

She was hired to her current posting in the spring of 2014.

“My position allows me to work with students directly to make Parkland a place where students can find ways to express themselves, whether that is in a club or participating in a large scale program,” she said.

In her role, Sandler’s duties include the scheduling of events, supervising over 40 campus clubs and organizations, and making recommendations to student government.

Occasionally, Sandler will arrange for a karaoke stage to be set up in the Student Union. It is one of her favorite activities.

“It is always cool to see students who might be rushing between classes have a chance to unwind for a few minutes,” she said. “Students will sing a song [or] watch others and it really connects us as one community, and sometimes students who are quiet in class really belt out some classic rock songs.”

Sandler enjoys the fact that there are so many clubs and organizations for Parkland students to choose to join.

“Parkland allows students to create clubs with only a minimum of ten registered students and a faculty [or] staff advisor,” she said. “The main goal of clubs is to develop leadership skills, personal relationships, and allow students to utilize resources on campus to make the out-of-class learning experience as robust as a classroom experience.”

As is the case for Parkland’s many students, Sandler is already looking ahead to the next semester. 

“The student government’s Valentine’s dinner is always an awesome program,” she said. “Next semester it will be held on Feb. 10, and we take the cafeteria and transform it into a fun dinner and dance spot. This year our speaker is going to talk about humor and how it helps us cope with stress and other situations.”

Sandler encourages students to seek out the many opportunities that are available to them in the Parkland community.

“Students at Parkland can join clubs, run for student government, plan large scale programs, volunteer, and even get a part-time job on campus,” she said.