Dianna Hyland, assistant to the director of the
Office of Public Affairs, completed this year's Boston Marathon.
Assistant Manages Office, Does Marathons, Triathlons
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
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
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.
Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection