When the Road Splits and You Are Silent

Today, I went for my first walk in the woods at Guilford College. I’ve been working here for over a year but I have never, by myself, taken the time to go for a stroll through our, sometimes infamous, woods. They are home to lots of animals, faculty and staff homes, Quaker history, Underground Railroad stories, and of course, student mischief. So today, I decided that in this mist and gloom I should finally explore.

The woods at Guilford are peaceful. So green and lush. There are babbling brooks that follow along the paths and the trees that reach so very high, sway in the wind with a practiced grace, you can tell the woods are as old as they are beautiful.

As soon as I made it to the path I stumbled across this…

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A split in the woods. I know, I know, how very cliché of me to be inspired to write because I see two roads diverged in the woods.

But this got me thinking about where I am, not just in my student affairs journey, but my life. In the next few months I will be making some very big life decisions and will have to make choices that are going to put me along certain paths. It is scary and exciting and BIG. I do not claim to be an expert in Quakerism but what I have picked up here at Guilford is an appreciation for silence and being still. Silence is a big part of how we conduct business at the College level and that comes from the large part it has in Quaker meetings for worship. It just so happened that this week I have encountered challenges of faith whether they be my own or what others have shared with me. I have been thinking a lot about the way Quakerism affects the ecology of the campus and the effect it has on me.

As I approach my literal and figurative roads that diverge I am going to remember this place in the woods and take time to be still and embrace the silence. The answers will come to me and whether my decisions are right or not I can stand firm in knowing I made them calmly and to the best of my ability.

Until next time,

Amanda

A Dialogue with ACPA President, Dr. Gavin Henning

Earlier this semester I was contacted by ACPA about a chance to interview, Dr. Gavin Henning, the current ACPA President, for16GOm75o my blog. I considered deleting the email and reporting it as spam before I realized that it wasn’t a joke.

Flash forward a few weeks later and I was on Google Hangout on a Monday morning, after spending the weekend trying to make my residence hall wall background look less like a basement and more like an office, having a thought-provoking and relevant conversation about this work called Student Affairs. I hope you all enjoy our, at times random due to my questions but, relevant conversation on the job search, changes in the field, activism, and why our work is important. 

On Why You Do The Work

One of my favorite questions in interviews is asking someone why they do what they do. We can read a job description about what they do and most people can spout off their job responsibilities but getting to understand why someone does something is where you start to understand who they are and what they value.

Gavin is currently a faculty member and Director of the Doctorate of Education and Master’s of Education in Higher Education Administration at New England College. He said he not only enjoys that role but sees it as a way to give back.

“Well I enjoy it, that’s probably one of the biggest things, you want to do something that you love and I feel like I’m making a contribution. I feel like I’m able to give back from what I’ve learned and what I’ve learned from other folks and help educate the folks that will be educating students moving forward. I hope that some of the skills and knowledge that I’ve acquired over the last 20, 25 years in Higher Ed I’ll be able to help new professionals and grad students to be able to do that same kind of work.”

On The Job Search and His First Job

Admittedly, I was very grateful to have the chance to interview Gavin and share with you all the knowledge he imparted but I was really looking to ask the questions that I wanted to know the answer to as well! The “job search” is this big ominous thing that everyone has different advice for though no job search looks the same. In that same regard the transition from graduate student to full-time professional is different for everyone. So let’s jump into that part of the conversation!

I asked, “What was your transition from grad school to your first professional role like?” Gavin responded, “It was really difficult. I did my undergrad at Michigan State University which was only about an hour and a half from where I lived in Michigan. I stayed at Michigan State to do my grad work so it was not a huge transition to go from undergrad to grad school work. I was close to family and I was comfortable and had some of the same connections with folks that I made in undergrad. It did feel like two more years at undergrad.”

“So when I got the position at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) it was a big transition. So that was when I finally felt like I was on my own. I was driving halfway across the country on my own and not really sure what was going to happen. It was definitely outside my comfort zone, so I was scared but also excited. I wasn’t sure what the next step was going to be. I was fortunate to have a supportive staff, the other Hall Directors on campus were great at helping me transition. The overall transition wasn’t as difficult as I thought but it was a big jump to go from somewhere where I was familiar. Even though Michigan State is huge, I felt comfortable there, I worked in Orientation, I was an RA so I knew the Student Affairs side of things, even in Grad School I worked in the Student Services office. I was a Grad Hall Director so I was pretty connected to all of that. It wasn’t as bad as I thought but it was new. I had a lot more autonomy than I had before, the Hall Directors at UNH did all of their own assessment and programming model and had to really trust in what I knew and go on instinct.”

How have you seen the role of Student Affairs change?

“The two biggest changes I think between now and then is one, technology. I used a computer for the first time in grad school. Because personal computers weren’t big in the 80s and late 80s. Actually, I didn’t use internet until my second year as a Hall Director and even then it was dial-up service, it was very slow. There wasn’t anything. So the technology that’s available today in terms of accessing information, connecting with students and the ability to use the technology to track students to help support them is dramatically different from what we ever had. So there are a lot of possibility there but we are also seeing some challenges with social media. Where social media is great to connect with but there is also this…I’ve started noticing students sitting in the same room with each other texting one another! So in that way the technology has kept us more closely connected but has also separated us. We have students that are lacking interpersonal skills, that has caused some big changes.”

“I also think the change in student demographics has been pretty remarkable. Not just in race and ethnicity but even what we have seen in the last few years about Trans identified students. And what are some of the implications for our old systems. Also veteran students. When I was at Dartmouth we had a push to bring in veteran students because our President at the time had been in the Marines but what we hadn’t thought about were what are the implications of bringing first year students who are in their late twenties onto a residential campus. So we hadn’t thought this through. So we had these 27-28 year-old students saying that they don’t want to have an 18 year-old roommate. Then some of them wanted to get through the program as quickly as possible but summer classes weren’t offered. Dartmouth was a truly residential college. So our systems weren’t set up for those type of students. Same thing goes for Trans identified students our current systems are very gendered so we need to figure out how to adapt to that.”

Activism

As I have mentioned on my blog before, I sometimes struggle with what my role in social change and activism can be now that I am a professional and not a student. My activism used to be going to marches, writing editorials in the newspaper, and any other way my voice can be heard. Now I am looking at how I can continue being an agent of change while doing what I can so that I can support my students. Gavin here lends his thought on the role of activism in student affairs. 

“Well I have a couple different perspectives, one is the perspective of activism in terms of change, changing society and I think all of us…I go back and forth! I think activism is important. If we look at any social movements and change in society, it’s been through activism. Things don’t change when people are quiet or happy with the status quo. But I’m also concerned about for some people, that form of activism and social change doesn’t really fit who they are. I think there are many ways to be active, I want to be cognizant of…in many ways I want to be inclusive of how people can be activists and make change. Some people want to go protest, some want to write letters to the editor of a paper. Some people blog about topics. Some talk about topics to people in person or bring them to class so I think there are multiple ways to be active. But I think our whole goal is to make society and the world better. So I think we all have to find what role fits us best. I want to make sure we aren’t judging folks that may not appear to be active and maybe they are in other ways.”

“So that’s the societal change piece. The other piece is our students and their activism. The reason I think about that is because one of my doctoral students did his dissertation on moral development of students that engage in protest. He calls it ‘non collaborative activism,’ particularly a lot of the students he talked with were involved in the Occupy movement. Particularly Occupy Boston and there was an Occupy Dartmouth movement. What he learned was that actually participating in those protests foster their moral development. And so, aside from the societal change impact there is also a personal development impact. I think both from our students but from us as individuals. That’s another important reason to be involved in it but some people participate in different ways so I would love to have the conversation begin to broaden to how are the many that we all can be active in making change.”

I had a great time with this interview and was so thankful the chance to interview Gavin. Though this seems like a lot I didn’t include everything that we covered! As you all know I like to write about what I feel and maybe some of the other topics we touched on will be more relevant later but until then I think this enough of a read for anyone. 

Until next time,

Amanda

Times That Kelly Kapoor Explained Your Life As An #SAGrad

The Office may not be on TV anymore but my love for Kelly Kapoor will never have a finale.

WHEN YOU GET BACK FROM YOUR SUMMER INTERNSHIP

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“DID YOU DO THE SUPPLEMENTAL READING?”

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WHEN SOMEONE ACCIDENTALLY SAYS DORM IN CLASS

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WHEN YOU ARE ASKED WHAT LEADERSHIP STYLE YOU UTILIZE MOST

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WHEN ACUHO-I AND NODA OFFERS ARE ON THE SAME DAY

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WHEN YOU ARE TRYING TO GET PARTICIPATION POINTS

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FINDING OUT YOUR CONFERENCE SESSION PROPOSAL WAS CHOSEN

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WHEN GROUP PROJECTS GET REAL

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WHEN YOU FEEL CONFIDENT STANDING UP FOR WHAT IS RIGHT

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WHEN YOU FINALLY SNAG THE JOB OF YOUR #SAGRAD DREAMS

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Good luck this semester y’all!

Amanda

NODA Grad in NOLA!

Source: Silicone Bayou News

It seems as though it was last week I was getting excited for my NODA (National Orientation Director’s Association) internship at UNC Asheville (read about that one here) but here I am, a year later, in New Orleans, 3 weeks into my new NODA internship at Loyola University New Orleans.

It is such a blessing that I have had this opportunity twice, one not afforded to many. My biggest concern coming into this summer is if I would have the chance to develop new skills. Would I find a way to challenge myself in new areas? Would I allow my self to become complacent in the orientation song and dance that I know so well? I have some ideas on how to shake things up for myself but if anyone has suggestions let me know!

Orientation really has not started for us here yet so my co-intern and I have had time to explore all that New Orleans has to offer. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you know that I have tried ALL of the food and gone to quite a few festivals. Locals will tell you there is a festival every weekend in the summer, from ones about Cajun Zydeco music to the Creole Tomato Festival, there is something for everyone.

As things get going for us I’ll check back but I’m excited for what is about to come this summer and I can’t wait to really get started. I also have some ideas to get more into the deep side things like my earlier posts, so stay tuned. Hope y’all enjoy this quick update!

Until next time,

Amanda

What I Learned My First Year as a #SAGrad

As my first year of Graduate School is coming to a close I have been in purposeful reflection on my experience. I have grown so much personally and as a professional that it is overwhelming to think of all of the knowledge I still have not gained.

1. My passion is not my job, my job helps fulfill my passion

Three months ago if someone had asked me what my passion is I would have said, “College students.” and that is a very surface level answer. I value curiosity most of all. The desire to know more and to gain knowledge is drives everything I do. I have never been able to understand how people are bored when there is so much to learn. The desire to be a lifelong learner has translated into my interest in Higher Education. Understanding what I value and where my passion lies helps motivate me to the best I can for my students everyday.

2. I must take control of my own learning

I’ve come to realize that my Graduate Assistantship and my classes will only take me so far in the knowledge I want to gain. If I want to learn more, I must do more. Passive learning isn’t going to work for what I want.

3. Interdependence is key

I feel as though Grad School made me go through Chickering’s Vector’s all over again. One of my favorite Professor’s in undergrad, Dr. Rupert Nacoste, used to quote John Donne’s “No Man is an island,” line from, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, in class and now I finally get it. Grad School is difficult and it helps to have a group in your corner cheering you on. It helps even more to have people who are in the trenches with you. You are never going to be close friends with all of your classmates but try to find at least one that you can depend on to be there for you.

4. Write the paper early

Something will come up and ruin your plan. Just do it early.

5. You don’t have to trust the process

I’m a Millennial. The process can do what it wants over there but I’m going to go get what I want because I want it now. Yes, I know that is very millennial of me to say and I will learn differently later. [No, I won’t]

Chickerme? Chickerwho? Chickeryou?

I am well into my first Student Development theory class and today even though NC had a snow day my first paper on Chickering was due. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the paper because we were able to pull from our own undergraduate experiences and apply the vectors.

After completing the paper I got curious about undergraduate Amanda. I have a notorious bad memory about most things so I ventured into the deep archives of my horrible webcam videos on my computer. I found one of my old video diaries and I’m going to leave it here for you all to see. Hopefully you find it as interesting as I did! At the tender age of 19, I can see a future Student Affairs professional blossoming.

The audio is really low so you may need headphones!

Let me know what you all think!

Orientation Round #3

Orientation was my gateway into the Student Affairs field, for me like it has been and will be for many other people. This summer I left behind my beloved NC State and took a trip up the mountains to the University of North Carolina (UNC) – Asheville as a National Orientation Director’s Association Intern.

I was nervous, sad, and hopeful about starting my professional journey. There are not a lot of students who have to chance for a NODA experience before starting their graduate program so I felt even more compelled to take the opportunity. I haven’t missed an NC State Orientation in 2 years and seeing them move on with the new staff broke my heart, but it is all a part of transition.

MOUNTAIN LIFE

Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway

Before coming to Asheville for the Summer I had only been here once as a child and as an adult I see the city in a totally different light. Asheville is the self-proclaimed hippie, liberal, foodie, town of NC and they want to stay that way. I have had the most amazing food of my life here. I was even able to get a bit presidential with a trip to an apparent favorite of the Obama’s 12 Bones Smokehouse (they have a commerative bumper sticker in his honor). I have been having a great time introducing my awesome co-intern to NC staples like Cheerwine and barbecue.  Experiencing Downtown Asheville that everyone should have from the Friday night drum circles to the double decker bus the happens to serve coffee it is always a good time. I have also had a chance to do some hiking on the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway and a trip to Dupont State Forest where I visited Triple Falls, a site where they filmed scenes from the Hunger Games.

embark Orientation

2014 Blue Crew
2014 Blue Crew

UNC Asheville has given me a lot and I have had so many chances to learn and grow in the month that I have been here. I have developed really dynamic and meaningful relationships with the staff here including my co-intern and Head Orientation Leader. I feel much more empowered in my role and am able to push my boundaries. I have had such a great time learning from this staff full of women who are role models for how I want my professional career to be led.

My co-intern and I were also given the opportunity to create and help facilitate a multicultural awareness activity that all of the incoming first-year students were able to participate in. It made me fall in love with student affairs all over again. Students opened with their experiences, the orientation leaders grew into being able to have tough conversations, and at the end students said that the session made them feel better about coming to college. There is no greater compliment to me and it was what I plan on working toward for the rest of my life.

Today marks exactly a month since my time at UNC Asheville and I’m sure I will have more to say as my time here comes to a close but wow what a month it has been thus far.

Until next time,

Amanda

 

Craggy Gardens
Craggy Gardens