Discipline.

“The first and best victory is to conquer self.”
— Plato

2015, has been a great year for me. I have been able to get more involved in the field of Higher Education in ways I never thought I could. I have made connections with students. I worked very hard in class and my grades have shown that work. I have taken my graduate school experience and made it my own by gearing my projects and research to what I care about, professional and personally. Even with all of that, there is still room to improve.

In high school, even into undergrad, I was chained by unwritten rules that I felt I needed to follow to be good enough. Make this grade. Play this sport. Go to college. Major in this. Have these kind of friends. I was never having to be disciplined for myself. A lot of things I was doing were to please or satisfy the gaze of others.

This past year I had epiphany that I can still be amazing and not follow anyone else’s prepackaged formula. I read Audre Lorde, Maya Angelou, and Roxanne Gay and figured out that as a Black woman I am wonderful, terrible, beautiful, stubborn, wrong, and right in all the ways that I need to be and that is ok.

While still holding on to my new found sense of freedom I need to find self-discipline. I’ve always appreciated structure and rules so it is no wonder that while I have been doing well, I have not thrived as I would have liked to in 2015. Imagine what I could have done if I was trying to make myself as proud as I was trying to make others?

So my New Year, New Me, post is not about the job search, which will happen, or about finding myself. In 2016, I want to find the self-discipline to be ok saying no. I want to eat healthier and take care of myself. I want to be in better control of my finances. I need to be more mindful and present in my interactions with others. To me all of those things fall under discipline.

So a toast to the blood, sweat, and tears of 2015, and cheers to all that 2016, will bring.

See you next year,

Amanda

Let us be Heroes

“I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people.” – Maya Angelou

This year Guilford College, where I work, has a superhero theme for our orientation. The students chose the quote above to go on the back of one of the shirts. This Maya Angelou quote really got me thinking about what it means to be a hero. As Student Affairs professionals it is easy for us to try to be superheroes. From working late nights and during days off a lot of us strive to always be available and even feel guilty when we are not. Swooping in to save the day when we see a student in need.

But even Superman has his Fortress of Solitude and Batimage1man has to spend time as Bruce Wayne.

As I begin my 2nd year of grad school I am already feeling spread thin. I’m sure that I am not alone. Between class, work, internship, research, job search, and some nebulous thing called a “social life,” it is very easy to forget about taking those moments to take care of yourself.

So let’s challenge the conventional thinking of the word superhero. Let us be superheroes by setting the example of taking a break from work before we are desperate for one. Let us be superheroes by encouraging others to take care of themselves when we see they may not be at their best. Let us be superheroes by striving to make every place you inhabit a great place for others.

Good luck this semester and know that you are a superhero even if you go home when you are supposed to, wait to answer that email in the morning, or tell someone no.

Until next time,

Amanda

Existence is Resistance

Black Lives Matter.001As I get ready for the beginning of my last year in graduate school I can barely focus on my soon to come studies because my brothers and sisters are being killed all around me. Mothers, fathers, aunts, cousins, students, and friends are all gone because someone decided that they were too dangerous, too inhuman, and not worth enough of anything to live.

How can I sit and worry about whether or not my google calendar is synced with all of my meetings when I feel like I should be out on the streets protesting the injustice that is all around me? What does it matter if I can’t drive my car, sleep in my bed, or go to the store, without being confident that I will make it to the next day? At times I feel guilty that I have not dropped everything and joined the movement. I am able-bodied and of sound mind, that is something that I could do.

It is then that I remembered a word from the old folks in my family that many young Black children hear when they get too big for their britches. My grandmother used to tell me to “tend to my business,” when I got too involved in grown up conversations. Now I take that word from her and apply it to my grown up life.

I am figuring out that my lane of resistance and protest is to continue my education. I have a role that I must play and I remember that I would not have made it through the killings of Trayvon Martin, Kimani Gray, Rekia Boyd, and Jonathan Ferrel, to name a few, without the shoulders of student affairs professionals to cry upon.  Even more the work of student affairs professionals should be as a support to our students that are beginning to put themselves on the front lines of activism. It is the collective leadership of young women, young queer folks, and young folks of color in all of their intersectional identities that is leading the Black Lives Matter Movement, not old religious leaders.

Graduate Assistants that get it are needed. Coordinators that get it are needed. Assistant Directors that get it are needed. College Presidents and Chancellors that get it are needed.

For me, these killings don’t feel like they are happening to other people. I am them and they are me. When I see my colleagues in this field that do not understand how personal this is I want to scream! If you, with your classes on feminism, social justice workshops, CSA competencies, and diversity programming quotas don’t get it, who else in the university will? I worry for your students.

If I feel like my very existence in the university is resistance what do you think your students feel?

Until next time,

Amanda

“Here is a strange and bitter crop”

I’ve been quiet on my blog for quite a while due to work, school, and no real motivation to speak out. As a young professional I am still navigating the waters of talking about my views on current events while not marginalizing or offending students.

Now, that is over. I’m tired of being quiet. I’m tired of watching my brothers and sisters being killed by those that promise to protect and serve. I’m tired of having to tell others that my life matters, as if that’s not a given. It seems like every time I turn on the TV I see strange fruit.

John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Yvette Smith, Eleanor Bumpurs, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Tarika Wilson, Tamir Rice, Cameron Tillman, VonDerrit Myers Jr, Laquan McDonald, Shereese Francis, Shantel Davis, Rekia Boyd, to be continued………

Do you work here…?

I said that I would stop with the posts just recording the time line of events going on in my life and I am keeping to that promise. Summer is over, classes are back in session and it is time for you and I, dear reader, to stretch our minds a bit.

Representation.

I’ve been working at my graduate assistantship for about a month and within the last few weeks students have finally made their way back to campus. I sit in a fairly busy part of campus in what is the closest thing we have to a student union building here. Most days students can see me puttering around at my cube and completing my “other duties as assigned.”

While working in a figurative, and literal, glass house was at first, a bit intimidating I started to notice an interesting trend. During those first few days every student that I perceived as Black or African-American either did a double take then waved or came in the office and introduced themselves.

Now I could put this up to it being a really small school and a new person is easy to spot but I think it is something a bit deeper. I would never stretch to say that I hold the monolithic views of the Black community, nor do we caucus and report out to the masses. I do believe that on a campus where there are not a lot of administrators that look like you, seeing someone in a leadership role matters. I know it mattered to me as a student.

As always I would love feedback!

Amanda

New Beginnings!

Hey y’all!

It’s been a little while since I have made a real post but between moving from two times and starting a new job, all in the span of 2 weeks, I hope you can understand my absence. At the beginning of the month I started my graduate assistantship and even though students aren’t here yet I can already tell I am going to have a wonderful time. Guilford College is a small, religious, liberal arts institution, completely different from my large, photo 1public, largely STEM undergraduate experience. One thing that does connect my time at NC State to my few weeks at Guilford is the care for students. In one of the first meetings I attended in my department I could tell how much every single person at the table cared about the students at Guilford. That is all I needed to know.

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Can you see my name?

I also went to SPAHE Orientation! If you all couldn’t already tell I am an orientation nerd! I love school spirit, learning new information, and my cohort! It was great to see some new faces and familiar ones from Interview days! Monday, I have my first class and of course it is Social Justice. In light of recent events going on in Ferguson, Missouri, involving the death of an unarmed teen, it seems as though the universe is putting me in the place I need to occupy.

 

Tomorrow I start my graduate program. Tomorrow our orientation staff moves in for training. Tomorrow begins the next chapter of my life.

Because I’m happy!

I finished up my NODA internship for the summer! I met wonderful people and had one of the best times of my life. This summer has made me more confident in my abilities as a leader as well as made me even more excited to start my assistantship and grad program.

One thing that will always stand out to me when I think back on my time in Asheville are the mountains. I have lived in North Carolina all my life, just a short 2 hour trip up the road from some of the most beautiful scenery in America. The residence hall I lived in had 2 different hiking programs this summer and I was able to take advantage of each one.

Nothing makes your problems feel smaller than looking at this…

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So I’m trying to embrace the change and the happy, hopefully you will too! Step into your happiness fearlessly! I’ll leave you all a clip in honor of National Batman Day that recently passed. If the Dark Knight can embrace his happy so can you.