Residence Life adds a new Associate Director to their team


Headshot Submitted by Heather Emery-Cunningham

Heather Emery-Cunnigham joins Residence Life as the new Associate Director

by Morgan Parrish, Staff Reporter

Heather Emery-Cunningham is Simpson College’s new Associate Director of Residence Life.

Cunningham is originally from Oklahoma but now resides in Indianola. She graduated from Northeastern State University (NSU) in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in English and double minors in music and history. She then received her master’s degree in English with a concentration in Rhetoric/Composition from NSU in 2017.

Cunningham gained work experience through two different universities before making her way to Simpson.

“Most recently, I worked at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa as an Area Coordinator of the Upperclassmen Experience. I was there from July 2019 to January 2022.

Before that, I was an Area Coordinator at NSU from August 2013 to May 2019,” Cunningham said.

Cunningham chose to work at Simpson because it gave her the opportunity to develop her skills and work with students.

“The position was a great blend of me being able to still have direct supervision of student staff and allowed me the opportunity to also develop my leadership and management skills supervising a full-time employee,” Cunningham said.

When Cunningham was in college, she said residence life was her second family. When she left her graduate assistant position in housing and residence life at NSU in 2012, she missed it too much not to go back.

“I missed what I had been doing so much. I was working a full-time job and a part-time job, but it wasn’t fulfilling. I was fortunate that my alma mater had three positions opening for the 2013-2014 academic year,” Cunningham said.

According to Cunningham, residence life is the perfect job for someone who wants to work with students, but not as a professor.

“If you want to work with students in an educational setting but not necessarily a classroom setting, residence life is a perfect sweet spot – really anything in student affairs,” Cunningham said.

To Cunningham, this new position is more than just a job. This position has several benefits for Cunningham because she gets to cheer on and help her students throughout their entire college experience.

“I get to work with students, helping them develop their leadership skills. I get to see them grow as adults. I get to help support them as they work towards their goals after their undergraduate degree is completed, whether that is graduate school or finding a new job,” Cunningham said. 

Cunningham is looking forward to learning and working with her new residents at Simpson and hopes to create specific goals for herself and the department.

“I think that my biggest goal is to help foster the development and success of my residents and student staff. I’m still getting my feet wet here, so I know that I need to have a better understanding of Simpson’s culture before I can develop other more specific goals,” Cunningham said.

So far, Cunningham is enjoying her time at Simpson, especially with her fellow staff members.

“I’m really enjoying working alongside the folks in the Student Development Office and problem-solving with Matt Hansen and Ethan Brown,” Cunningham said.

Outside of this exciting new job for Cunningham, she spends her free time doing various activities at home.

“This job requires a lot of extroversion, and this INFJ needs her downtime when she is not working. I do a lot of reading, read 95 books last year, knit, play games with my partner, do puzzles and nap,” Cunningham said.