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SFA alumna Sydni Mitchell discusses career, politics with Jacks Council on Family Relations members

April 17, 2018 - University Marketing Communications
Stephen F. Austin State University alumna Sydni Mitchell discusses how her human development and family living major works with her role as communications director and policy analyst for Texas State Sen. Robert Nichols. Mitchell recently returned to campus to speak to Jacks Council on Family Relations members about how they can utilize their major in politics.
Politics and child development and family living may not seem like your typical match, but for Sydni Mitchell, the two go hand in hand.

As communications director and policy analyst for Texas State Sen. Robert Nichols, Mitchell, a two-time Stephen F. Austin State University graduate, utilizes her unique background and perspective in her daily interactions and to affect policy.

"Every day a constituent calls or I meet with lobbyists or associations about a bill or topic, and it always involves people," Mitchell said. "To step back and rely on my knowledge of how people's upbringing impacts who they are and how they act in certain situations is extremely helpful."

Mitchell majored in child development and family living as an undergraduate and studied public administration in graduate school. She was the SFA student regent from 2010-11, which is where her interest in politics began. She also served as president of the Student Government Association, Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society and Jacks Council of Family Relations.

"When people ask me what my major was I always get a head tilt. I honestly say I fell into politics," Mitchell said.

Recently, Mitchell presented to current Jacks Council on Family Relations members in SFA's School of Human Sciences. She discussed her career journey and encouraged students to not limit their careers to those typically associated with the major.

"I believe my degree gives me an advantage as it enables me to see things from a different perspective. You can use this major for any number of jobs," Mitchell said. "I'm proud to say I'm an SFA alumna and this was my major. I don't think I'd be as sympathetic a person without this major."

Jaycie Case, current JCFR president, said Mitchell's visit gave her further insight into the human development and family studies field.

"I was extremely thankful and honored to meet a past JCFR president who took time out of her busy schedule to inform us on how family policies are dealt with in state and national politics," Case said. "Hearing about the path she took after graduation let us know our degree could take us on many different paths."

During her presentation, Mitchell discussed the importance of internships. She interned for Nichols and then worked as a staff member in his office. In her newest role as communications director, Mitchell handles policy work and media for the senator's office, which includes press releases and monthly and weekly columns. She admits a communications course she took in the School of Human Sciences has saved her in this position.

"I loved this class and it was my introduction into the communication world. When I became the communications director, I had no idea what to do or how to write a press release other than what the previous director had done," Mitchell said. "I keep all my papers from my classes, and I was flipping through my stuff, and thankfully I found my book with the papers from that class in it."

The SFA Alumni Association recognized Mitchell with the 2017 Lumberjack Pride Award, and she continues to be an avid supporter of SFA athletics.

For more information about SFA's human development and family studies program, visit sfasu.edu/hms/71.asp.