Data, data analysis, reporting—they all came natural to Donella Telesford, BSc ’09, whether it was during computer courses, mathematics, or any class that required critical thinking and analytical skills.
Looking back on her academic career now, as St. George’s University’s associate director of University Surveys and Qualtrics brand administrator, Ms. Telesford realizes she was on a quick path to serving as a leader in survey research at her alma mater. She has been a crucial asset to University operations, including as SGU navigated the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years.
“Nothing brings me more joy than being able to utilize my skills, expertise, and knowledge of Qualtrics to demonstrate the capabilities of the software,” Ms. Telesford said. “I enjoy creating complex surveys and systems that can help other users manage and streamline their tasks.”
In her current role, Ms. Telesford leads the monitoring and approval of various surveys to ensure that all policies are adhered to. In addition, she is responsible for the design, administration, analysis, and reporting of SGU Student Satisfaction Surveys, which are sent to more than 5,000 students across all four schools each term. While helping to achieve institutional goals, Ms. Telesford works closely with the deans, faculty, and administrators to create these surveys, provide general support to over 500 Qualtrics users, and work on special projects for the provost’s office.
As a first-generation college graduate, Ms. Telesford got her entry into the workforce at SGU, where she held her first job as a registration assistant in the Office of Enrollment Planning, now Office of the University Registrar. After completing SGU’s internship program at GRENLEC, Grenada’s sole electricity company, she jumped at the chance to join SGU full time in the housing department as a data entry specialist, sparking her interest in her future field. She later transitioned to the position of SAS Peer Learning Group coordinator followed by an appointment as coordinator of the Student Support and Administrative Office within the Department of Educational Services.
“My experience at SGU as a student and now an employee has been amazing,” shared Ms. Telesford. “During my time as a student, I met friends who have motivated me, mentors who have guided me, and professors who have taught me a great deal. SGU has also been instrumental in my career development, providing numerous professional development sessions, as well as access to high-quality resources free of cost to its employees. These sessions have had a great impact on me professionally, academically, and personally. I feel extremely prepared for the next challenge and advancement opportunity.”
This next challenge came during the current COVID-19 pandemic when Ms. Telesford was appointed as the SGU Contact Tracing Team Lead. As part of several task forces formed to assist SGU students in Grenada and abroad, she designed, distributed, and reported on several surveys that captured pertinent information needed for decision-making by the University’s leadership. Additionally, to assist in her new role, Ms. Telesford completed the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Contact Tracing course that not only provided her with the knowledge to be effective in her role but also helped her host training sessions and create resources for new team members.
“In this role, I managed a team of eight people who conducted contact tracing, wellness checks, scheduled testing, and arranged medical clearances through the Ministry of Health for more than 700 contacts and cases. Working closely with stakeholders, I also created the SGU COVID-19 Case and Contact Tracing Protocols. Although this is a challenging role, it has provided me with the opportunity to serve SGU and give back to the Grenada community, while assisting the MOH with reducing the spread of COVID-19 in Grenada.”
Currently, Ms. Telesford has completed seven Qualtrics certification courses assessing her ability to understand Qualtrics XM principles, confidently execute on research projects, and report insights using the Qualtrics platform. In the upcoming months, she will be preparing to take the Qualtrics Level 1 certification exam, which will be the first step towards validating her expertise as a certified Qualtrics XM professional.
“All of my past experiences at SGU have prepared me for the work that I do today,” stated Ms. Telesford. “Transferring the many skills and knowledge I’ve acquired throughout the years has allowed me to gather valuable feedback and identify areas of concern, so that I can better serve students by providing the academic and non-academic support needed to improve student success. My SGU experience has also enabled me to view collaboration as a learning experience that fosters an open, connected, and engaged work environment.”
— Ray-Donna Peters