FSL welcomes new director

Emma Tanner, Managing Editor

Fraternity and Sorority Life introduced their new director, Anna Leigh Vaccaro, on Nov. 14, 2022. The position was previously vacant.

Vaccaro is a graduate of UNA, obtaining a degree in mass communications. Her focus was in broadcast news production. Vaccaro is a Nashville, Tenn. native, but she and her mother moved to Florence in 2011 — the same year she began attending UNA. 

 “I call the Shoals home,” said Vaccaro. “I wasn’t born here. I’ve called the Shoals home since 2011. I’ve never really lived in my mom’s house, but I consider it home.”

She has past experience in working with Greek life. While at UNA, Vaccaro was part of the Phi Mu sorority. Not long after graduation, she began working for Phi Mu’s national headquarters as a chapter consultant. She traveled across the United States assisting chapters at various universities with recruitment operations. She was also a resident for certain chapters; she lived in Chicago for a semester with DePaul University, she lived in Binghamton, N.Y. at Binghamton University, she worked with Northern Kentucky University in the Cincinnati, Ohio area (where she helped create a Phi Mu chapter) and she worked at the sorority’s headquarters in Peachtree, Ga. for around seven months. 

“I ended my career with Phi Mu because, quite frankly, living in Atlanta was not for me,” Vaccaro said. “It just wasn’t good for my mental health. That was the first time I ever really struggled with anxiety and made the decision that — I loved what I did, I loved the work I did — it was just not worth it to live there for how taxing it was mentally on me.”

Following her career at Phi Mu, Vaccaro worked in radio at Big River Broadcasting. She was in the digital department, working with websites, texting platforms and graphic design. 

“It got to a point where I was like ‘I feel like I’m wasting my talent.’” Vaccaro said. “I just sat at a computer all day. I really need human interaction. I love to problem solve. I like to work on a team.”

Vaccaro wanted to work in higher education. She enjoyed being around college students. To her, building trust and vulnerability is important. She wants the college students she works with to become future leaders.

She got back into higher education through UNA’s Housing and Residence Life department, serving as an area coordinator. She lived in Olive Hall for three years. Her tenure began in January 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic. The majority of her first year was spent navigating the pandemic. After students left campus, those who were unable to leave were housed in Olive. 

She was eventually promoted to senior coordinator, specializing in camps and conferences (SOAR, cheer camp, etc.) on campus. When the director of FSL position opened, Vaccaro felt as if it were perfect timing. She was about to graduate with her masters degree, one required for the position.

“I wanted to get back in a role that focused more on leadership development,” Vaccaro said. “I play a different role with students. I was previously having conduct meetings with students or reprimanding them for their actions or whatever they were doing in residence halls. Here I feel like I have more of an opportunity to build leaders, and that’s something that’s really important to me.”

One of Vaccaro’s responsibilities is advising the Greek life chapters at UNA. She oversees the College Panhellenic Council (CPH), the Independent Greek Council (IGC) and the Interfraternity Council (IFC). Molly Stephens, her graduate assistant, assists her in overlooking the IGC and independently overlooks the National Panhellenic Council (NPHC). There is a learning curve in working with certain Greek organizations that she has never worked with before. Nevertheless, she still wishes to create strong leaders and assist them in any way they need.

“One of the most impactful parts of my undergrad experience came from older people seeing things in me that I didn’t see in myself,” Vaccaro said. “So I have always taken that with me and tried to instill that in other people.”