Assistant Manages Office, Does Marathons, Triathlons

Dianna Hyland, assistant to the director of the Office of Public Affairs, completed this year’s Boston Marathon.
Posted 05/01/07
Q: Dianna, you are the assistant to Justin Harmon, vice president for the Office of Public Affairs, formerly the Office of University Communications. For how long have you worked in that office?

A: I began working at Wesleyan on Oct. 30, 2000.

Q: What goes on in your daily routine? What is the most challenging aspect of your job here?

A: I was originally hired to provide direct support to Justin, however, as with most jobs, this position has continued to evolve over the past seven years. I provide administrative support to the entire staff, which means that even though there are some ‘routine’ daily tasks – like scanning the media for Wesleyan-related stories – I always have a variety of project that I am working on. The most challenging aspect of my job is managing the budget, especially with the addition of WESU 88.1 FM.

Q: What are your degrees in and from where?

A: Some people might call me a “perpetual student,” however I prefer to call myself a “lifelong learner.” While attending the University of Connecticut from 1988-1994, I earned a bachelor’s of art in psychology as well as a master’s in art in exercise science. Two years later, I went back to school to earn a master’s of art in higher education from the University of Arizona. While at UA, I spent time working in Residence Life as well as in Student Activities, including Greek Life and Commuter Student Affairs.

Q: With such a background, how did you end up at Wesleyan?

A: My husband and I returned to Connecticut in order to be closer to family. When I started applying for positions within higher education, I was open to working in a more “administrative” position in order to have evenings and weekends available to spend with friends and family. I applied for a couple of positions at Wesleyan, and good fortune brought me to my current position. I will admit that I miss the positive energy and enthusiasm that comes from working directly with student groups.

Q: What do you like best about working at Wesleyan?

A: There are too many wonderful things to list just one! At both the university and departmental levels, I feel like a respected and valued member of the team. Wesleyan really grasps the concept of employee wellness. I love that I am encouraged to seek both professional and personal growth opportunities.

Q: What are you studying now and why?

A: As a lifelong learner, I recently decided to enroll in a program to earn another degree – this one will allow me to be a physical therapist assistant, which fits perfectly with my interest in fitness, wellness and caring for people. Balancing school, work, marathon and triathlon training and household responsibilities has proven to be an interesting, and exhausting, challenge.

Q: You recently took part in the Boston Marathon. How did that go?

A: This was my first time running the Boston Marathon, and it was an incredible experience. Within the running community, “Boston” is considered a prestigious event, as it requires participants to earn their spot in the race. In order to ‘qualify’ to run Boston, I had to run a prior marathon in a certain amount of time. A marathon always is 26.2 miles, and I had to run one in 3 hours and 45 minutes in order to be allowed to run in Boston.

Q: What kind of preparation and training did you have to go through?

A: Before Boston, I ran the Hartford marathon for three consecutive years. The first marathon was a test of my ability to complete the distance. That was all it took and I was hooked! The human body is such an amazing, complex system. I love watching how it adapts to the demands of training, and then ultimately performs on race day. Training for a marathon usually takes 16-18 weeks, and basically involves gradually increasing mileage each week. There are many different types of training plans to choose from, based on an individual’s level of fitness and goals.

Q: Do you go to Wesleyan’s Freeman Athletic Center often? Do you take any classes?

A: I can usually be found at FAC two or three days each week. I am a regular participant in the Adult Fitness classes, specifically yoga. Taking the class is a great stress-reliever in the middle of the day, and has also made me a stronger, more flexible runner. I also use the pool when I am in training for triathlons.

Q: What are your other hobbies and interests?

A: In addition to running and yoga, I also enjoy swimming, biking and hiking. As a member of the Willimantic Lions Club, I participate in volunteer activities as well. In addition, I am a member of the Willimantic Athletic Club, and participate in volunteer and social activities with them. If I’m ever found sitting still, there is usually a book, movie or some writing involved in capturing my attention.

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: I was born and raised in Connecticut, and have family in North Windham where I live with my husband Jason, and our two dogs, Jake and Darren.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor