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Staff Stories: Trisica Munroe

Trisica Munroe outdoors next to glassy building

Growing deeper with administrative roles

By Grace DePaull

In the twelve years that Trisica Munroe has been employed at Cornell, she has held roles as a temporary administrative assistant, office manager, program coordinator, assistant director and currently, as director of administration in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Some may call her career trajectory “climbing the ranks.” Munroe prefers to see her journey as one of moving deeper.

“The more I've learned about the institution and the more experience I've received, I feel like I've come closer to unpacking some of the complexities of my work,” Munroe said. “I’ve added layers of understanding and have gotten to know many sides of Cornell and how some of the moving parts affect the whole. It’s been rewarding being able to make positive contributions and shifts to some of the things I’ve seen as challenges over the years.”

In her first role at Cornell, Munroe quickly gained inspiration from her supervisor to strive toward becoming a director of administration. She valued the breadth of knowledge and understanding her supervisor had accumulated by pursuing many roles across their unit and building partnerships with other departments in the college. Munroe soon decided to take on a similar trajectory and set out to find roles that would give her this experience. 

She took time to explore many facets of the university, working in Cornell Abroad, LGBT Studies, Feminist, Gender & Sexuality Studies, the Research Initiative Lab of Atomic & Solid State Physics and the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science. With each position Munroe pursued, there was one precondition – that she could continue to expand her diverse skillset.

“It’s so important to have an evolving understanding of yourself and to have regular assessments in terms of what works for you, what you're liking and not liking and continuing to learn about what you find fulfilling,” Munroe said.

Early in her career, she became determined to build a broad base of professional experience and knowledge. The administration job family gave Munroe flexibility to find roles in various colleges and academic programs that allowed her to engage in a diverse range of work. However, she acknowledged that not every position was the perfect fit. Through trial and error and taking a few chances, Munroe learned valuable lessons even from roles that weren’t quite right.

“I learned more about myself and about what kinds of work I wanted to do and didn't want to do through those roles,” Munroe said. “Those ‘wrong positions’ helped me figure out what environments were critically important for me to be in. Cornell is a really big ecosystem and there are lots of different kinds of cultures within the whole. It gave me the confidence that there is always a place to continue my career here.”

As Munroe moved through the institution, she not only gained a deeper understanding of her professional goals but found herself creating a community wherever she went. Cornell’s Colleague Network Groups played an influential role when she first arrived at the university by meeting colleagues who shared similar identities and experiences. Munroe embraced opportunities to collaborate and connect, weaving a web of support systems that helped sustain her sense of belonging over the years.

“To belong is a very personal thing,” Munroe said. “I don't know that an institution can build exactly what each individual needs. And so, for me, my sense of belonging has been closely related to the relationships I've built. I find it really beautiful that I have a large family at Cornell and within the Ithaca community that has been so instrumental in feeling as though I belong. It’s been important to me to have a combination of those deep and also broad and loose connections because getting to know people in other units and colleges is incredibly helpful as a first step to reducing that divide.”

As she delved into the institution, Munroe gathered pieces from each position she assumed, constructing a mosaic of who she is and how she views her role and responsibilities today. As a leader within her college and community, Munroe hopes to create opportunities for everyone to be able to experience the full breadth of the university.

“What impacts a student, staff or faculty’s experience can sometimes begin with someone like me or someone within a role like mine,” Munroe said. “So, I want to create an environment as positive as possible. I see the need to be a person who ensures that people have an equitable, fair and just experience. It’s important for me to show up and be that person in this space.”

For more information on the administration job family, visit Administration | Working at Cornell.