Need Not be Present to Learn: Distance Learning from #ACPA15

I had a great ACPA experience. I learned a ton, I was challenged, I connected with other student affairs professionals, I debated the merits of ideas in the field, and I widened my professional circle. I supported my friends, asked questions to presenters, connected an awesome SA grad with an equally awesome SA pro, and I already have ideas of how to take my conference experience back to my campus.

The catch is that I accomplished all of this from the comfort of my apartment. I cooked dinner, took my dog for a walk, worked on a blog, called a friend, and in between, grew as a professional. This is all because of the vibrant Twitter backchannel, generous pros who documented their “a-ha” moments, as well as their struggles with the conference experience through blog posts and copious tweets. While I wasn’t able to feel the energy in the room of the annual Cabaret, I caught snippets of Instagram videos and more pictures than I knew what to do with. And you had better believe I will watch every single Pecha Kucha once they are posted online.

The days of in person conference attendance being a requirement for learning are over. There’s no excuse. Can’t afford to go to both national conferences or any conferences at all? So what. Get online. Engage. Ask questions. Critically reflect. I didn’t spend a single dime and still feel like I had one of the most fruitful conference experiences of my career.

Does my online experience take the place of sitting in a session and dialoguing in person? Of course not. The feeling of seeing an old friend, being challenged by a mentor, or running into a faculty member in the hallway will never be recreated online, but learning? Learning is always on the table. It’s up to you whether or not you take a seat. 

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Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, or, The Challenges of Leading from the Middle

As always, Renee puts words to so many of my experiences. A must read for new and continuing mid-level professionals!

crafting + curating

Like many, I spent my entry-level days in the field aspiring to the next step. What comes next, I would tell myself, will certainly be better/easier/more challenging/more meaningful/more amazing/involve more butterflies than my current position. And there in lies the peril of just being humans (or perhaps my and many other’s humanity specifically): we are never quite satisfied with where we are.

To some extent, we shouldn’t be satisfied. I do believe that those of us who get things done, who accomplish big goals, who aspire to deliver great work consistently, have a level of insatiability. I’m like this in all realms of my life. It drives my husband crazy. But it makes me excellent at what I do. It is a constant striving that makes us constantly willing to learn, to be taught, to discover, and to try new things. And I do believe that is the first requisite…

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Multicultural Affairs and White Folks Running Things: A Response to @jeradgreen494

Wilderness Voices: Speaking Truth to Power about Higher Ed and Society

On Thursday, I had the wonderful opportunity to visit by video conference with Dr. Marc Johnston’s Student Development Theory class at my master’s and doctoral alma mater, The Ohio State University. After my visit, I posted to Facebook about it, remarking that I had only answered two questions in the time I had with them because those questions hit nerves that tend to send me off on rants quite easily. The two questions involved who should be doing the work of social justice education (should privileged people work with privileged people and marginalized people work with marginalized people) and how to deal with resistance to such educational initiatives. In the comment thread that ensued, I gave really brief summaries of what I shared with this class of first-year student affairs master’s students. Here’s what I posted:

“So, this is a hot button issue for me. My basic contention is that it is actually…

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A Love Letter to Housing Operations

On this, the loveliest of days, I want to express my love and gratitude of all those members of Housing Operations teams, particularly those professionals who work in assignments. This week I got a sneak peek of the work that they accomplish, and have more gratitude for our housing assignment team than I ever had before.

This week was one of those where you hit Friday at 5pm and don’t know what happened to you. It was a perfect storm of student staff selection, housing applications and lottery, moving staff office and apartment placements for next year, and approximately one thousand other things. The running theme in my world was the need to collaborate with our housing assignment folks to make all of this work and to be able to forecast problems, issues, and needs for the upcoming year. I feel like I used parts of my brain that I never have before!

The main impetus of this firestorm was the implementation of a new Theme Community program. I am extraordinarily proud that we were able to get this off the ground in only a few months and will have 60+ rising sophomores participate next year! None of this would have been possible without our assignments staff. Our Theme Community program charged current first-year students who are members of existing Learning Communities to propose a theme for the upcoming year, including the need to find a staff or faculty advisor, commit to both on and off-campus activities, and to propose learning outcomes. The benefit to students is additional funding for programming, extra support from staff, and the ever seductive lure to skip the housing lottery and instead be assigned prior to lottery numbers being sent out, thus in theory lessening the stress of all involved.

All of this sounds great on paper. I met with Clair, our assignments guru months ago to plot out a timeline, but when working with students, timelines often need to be shifted at the last minute. I realized this week, when working with the ever emotional, dramatic, and political beast of asking students to choose their roommates, all bets are off.

I was struck this week by how calm Clair, the Assistant Director and Melissa and Kristen, our Housing Assignments Coordinators were during the madness of multiple student meetings and last-minute changes. I felt my blood pressure steadily climb the closer we got to the accept/decline deadline and it seemed like they barely noticed the madness. I was thrown off when a student in one of the groups suddenly disclosed a religious need that required specific accommodations, while our team barely blinked. I felt thrown off when multiple groups of students just showed up to meet with me after the were assigned a hall not in their top three choices, while Clair, Melissa, and Kristen just sort of laughed at the flurry of activity from my office. My eyes started to blur every time I pulled out the floor plans and tried to keep the difference between a bedroom single, bedroom double, studio double, designated single, and other configurations straight, while these three amazing women were able to take one look at a floor and tell me exactly what the occupancy should be. I got a pit in my stomach when we started discussions of lost revenue as we took spaces offline for new student leaders, while Clair said it was par for the course, all the while talking about first-year projections and something called “the funnel” from Admissions, which I’m still not entirely sure I understand. My brain simply shut down when we decided a very complex domino scheme that involved moving, swapping, renovating, and rehabbing seven different staff apartments and offices in four different communities. Clair simply took copious notes and made the changes, without even asking additional questions.

In short, our Housing Ops professionals have skills that I do not. They have the ability be both analytical when looking at occupancy needs and immediately shift to being empathetic when a sobbing student walks into their office because they’ve reaching their breaking point with a roommate, are in the midst of transitioning genders, or have to disclose the need for a disability related accommodation. They have to simultaneously be forward-thinking in order to make occupancy and revenue predictions, while also being nimble enough to respond to a downed server or other technical glitch. They have to be able to understand how physical environments can truly impact a student’s ability to learn, develop, and grow while dealing with the pressure of keeping those beds filled.

I don’t know how you do it. I was immune to those issues before this week. I realized how much we depend on our Housing Ops team because if the beds aren’t filled, the Res Life side of things doesn’t get funded. We are not able to hire staff, do renovations, build new buildings, or program around educational topics if we don’t have enough students living in our halls. Housing Ops, you make my job possible, and I love you for it.

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What Do You Do All Day?

I recently transitioned from the role of Resident Director to Assistant Director and moved across the country. While I was home for the holidays, my mother naturally asked, “What do you do all day at work?” It was a fair question. She could wrap her head around my role as a Resident Director because she lived in a residence hall in college. She often likes to say that if she knew student affairs was a career, she probably would have gone into the field.

Truth be told, I struggled to answer her question. My sarcastic, pithy, one-sentence answer was, “Emails and meetings, all day long.” I know I do more than that, but how can I quantify it? Sure, I often have hilarious stories about the requests or reactions of students or parents, and I can wax poetic about the future of higher education with the best of them, but what is it that I do? Why am I getting paid? What output is expected of such compensation? I’ve been pondering this for awhile after listening to a ProReps Aside podcast from Valerie Heruska and Matt Bloomingdale that asked this question and then I stumbled upon this tweet from the incomparable Mallory Bower:

Ma’am, I dip my hat to you. I think it is a really good question to think about. What is it that you do? Not what you hope to do, or want to do, or write on your professional development plan, or what you tweet about, but what do you actually accomplish on a day-to-day level? 

In the past two weeks, this is what I have accomplished: 

  • Had one-on-one meetings with four incredible new professionals who I supervise as Resident Directors. Those conversations ranged from job searches, to training new student leaders, to facilities updates, to roommate conflicts, to their own professional development plans, and about a hundred other topics in between.
  • Wrapped up a job description for a summer ACUHO-I intern; scheduled interviews by juggling 11 different schedules and started to look at candidate profiles
  • Packed my entire office and said goodbye to my surrogate professional home for the past six months. This is in preparation of our department’s office reunification after nearly two years of having a main office and a branch office
  • Assisted my supervisor and co-workers in their office packing, which often meant telling them to stop telling stories about the items, cards, photos, or mementos in their hands and to instead start making decisions about what to keep or toss
  • Attended the first National Residence Hall Honorary chapter meeting of the year and offered advice as their co-advisor around induction ceremonies and upcoming programming
  • Read, sorted, replied to, and crafted hundreds of emails. Hundreds.
  • Booked my hotel and travel for NASPA and started working on my speech for a SA Speaks session
  • Organized a meet-and-greet for several faculty members, administrative partners, and Residence Life staff for our Learning Community program in an attempt to pair in-class learning with out-of-class experiences
  • Presented three times in one day to 100+ Resident Advisors and Learning Community Advisors during winter training about OrgSync, a new programming model, and ways technology can work for them
  • Laughed a lot. Like, more than you probably expect. Our work is fun.
  • Attended my first CASCHA meeting; met several other Chicagoland professionals, sat on a panel about interviewing in student affairs, and conducted a mock interview with a new professional
  • Rolled out OrgSync implementation to our entire department and held my breath when all of our student staff members logged on for the first time; spent several hours troubleshooting said issues with student staff members
  • Completed really boring, but really necessary parts of my job like approving timecards, submitting receipts for purchases, and updating budget logs
  • Met with partners and faculty to discuss the future of our Service and Faith Learning Community, which spawned ideas on how to improve the entire LC program in the future
  • Reviewed resumes and cover letters from graduate students at my current institution, from my alma mater, in addition to grads who have reached out over Twitter
  • Attended the annual Res Life Prom. Yep, it’s a thing.
  • Brainstormed online training modules for Learning Community Assistants to increase academic support and integrated learning for members of all Learning Communities
  • Attended a divisional retreat for half of one day and a departmental retreat for an entire day
  • Rolled out an entirely new programmatic offering for our rising sophomore students in an attempt to increase participation and engagement while in our halls. So. Freaking. Excited!!!
  • Followed the incredible Higher Ed Live podcast on #blacklivesmatter and participated in the backchannel
  • Met with colleagues in our Admissions Office to streamline the housing application process for incoming first-year students who are interested in joining a Learning Community
  • Attended a total of 21 meetings in ten days, most of which required prior preparation and follow-up

This was just the past two weeks and I would argue it was a light few days since only one week had students on campus. I would also add conduct, parental phone calls, mental health concerns of students, being on call for our department, and regular committee work to a typical work week. So why is it that I was so dismissive when asked, “What do you do all day?” Did I not want to sound like I was whining or bragging? Did I underestimate my mother’s ability to understand the ‘intricacies’ of the work I do? Or is it because I’m not used to hearing what people actually do in their work?

As a new professional, I often remember thinking, “Hmm, what exactly does my boss do all day? They don’t supervise RAs, they aren’t first responders, they aren’t doing the ‘work’ of committees, so how do they spend their time?” As a student and Resident Advisor, I remember thinking the same thing about my RD. I think we all need to talk about what we actually do more often. Not in some cute sound-bite, or conference introduction, or carefully crafted Twitter profile, but in depth and in detail. How else are our graduate students and new professionals going to know if they actually want to continue in the field? We owe it to them to be transparent and we owe it to ourselves to quantify our day-to-day work so when someone asks, “What do you do all day?” we are ready, whether that person is your mother, an accrediting agency, your supervisor, the university president, or students who should be the focus of this work every day.

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One Year, One Word

After many years of hemming and hawing, I’ve finally decided to participate in the One Word Challenge. This movement asks participants to scrap a list of resolutions for the new year of all the things you want to do and instead focus on who you want to be. I really enjoy this concept as resolutions and I have never really gotten along. I found them to be limiting and guilt-inducing. So, when the indomidable Lisa Endersby put a call out for interest in the student affairs community to participate, I was all in.

In a show of true destiny, I decided to participate right before I jetted off to Las Vegas to celebrate New Years at a wedding for some of my dear friends. We celebrated their nuptials on the 17th floor balcony of the Platinum Hotel and then we watched fireworks shower the Las Vegas Strip to ring in 2015. The entire time, I kept pinching myself because I am not this cool. Seriously. I had an amazing time and took my first leap with my one word in mind by rocking a dress made completely out of sequins.

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Two dear friends and I rocking some NYE sequins!

Never in my life would I have ever chosen such an ostentatious garment, but if you can’t wear a dress made entirely of sequins on New Years Eve, in Las Vegas, at a wedding, when can you? This one little choice led me to my One Word for 2015…

moxie

In short, I love this word. I love the spirit behind it and how it incorporates confidence, joy, personality, grit, and actively seeking adventures. I love the charge that it asks of me. It’s not a word that can be shoved in a drawer and forgotten about all that easily. It’s a challenge and a call to action. And I’m ready for it. I’m ready to see where it takes me for 2015!!!

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The Unlikeliest of Sisters

Two things happened this past week. First, my sorority, Gamma Phi Beta, celebrated its 140th Founders Day. Second, Nolan Burch, an 18-year-old first-year student at West Virginia University was found unresponsive at a Kappa Sigma fraternity party in Morgantown. Tragically, he later passed away. This, along with other incidences at WVU, prompted a suspension of all fraternity and sororities on their campus.

The juxtaposition of celebrating the heritage of my sorority and being appalled and taken aback by yet another Greek-related death of a college student forced some serious reflection. As a sorority woman, I was celebrating and reflecting on what Gamma Phi has meant to me, while simultaneously viewing Greek Life through the lens of a college administrator.

There are many people who point to the horrific situation at WVU as a perfect reason to label Greek-letter organizations as binge-drinking hotbeds of potential sexual assault, racist, homophobic, misogynistic behavior that further perpetuate antiquated gender norms. In many cases, I agree. There are so many things about Greek life that make me cringe, but as someone who was forever changed as a result of my sorority experience, I have to say that there is another narrative.

My story starts in the fall semester of my sophomore year. I was a brand new RA and one of my fellow RAs wanted to go through informal recruitment (recruitment for upperclassmen students) and I, quite frankly, wanted to see the inside of the sorority houses. So, I went to the first round of open houses, had awkward conversations, and thought that would be the end of it. Then I started to look at the leaders on my campus, in my classes, and in my social circle. What they all had in common was that they were Greek. I decided to go back to the next night, and then went to the final night at Gamma Phi.

I stood in a circle of other Potential New Members while two current members read emotional letters to the chapter that expressed their gratitude for the sisterhood and what the chapter had offered them. As a sympathetic crier, I couldn’t help but tear up because this was genuine, authentic vulnerability and this sisterhood was something I knew I was missing in my college experience. I didn’t go looking for Greek Life, Greek Life went looking for me. 

I was soon swept away in a flurry of New Member meetings, rituals, socials, meetings, philanthropies, being paired with a Big Sister, and so much more. I soon was elected to become New Member Educator and spent my junior and senior years welcoming new members into our sisterhood. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was growing my toolkit for a future profession working with college students. I was tasked with creating learning outcomes and lesson plans for the new member curriculum, balancing long-term planning with daily details, was in charge of Bid Night which involved getting 100+ women to do the same thing on a tight timeline, keeping the graduating seniors engaged, while managing outside vendors, contracts, and the inevitable emotional breakdown of a new member who wasn’t sure if Greek Life was her. In a word, I was a student affairs administrator and I never even knew it. Much like Becca Obergefell’s latest post, Greek Life prepared me for my career.

As much as my experience in Greek Life helped me transition to professional life on a college campus, Gamma Phi’s contribution was so much more than that. I came to college as a quiet, shy, unsure, and completely unconfident first-year student. While I eventually found my home on campus, Gamma Phi made it real. I am basically the opposite of what you would consider a stereotypical sorority woman to be. I was not, and am not, blonde, thin, rich, well-dressed, good at small talk, confident around men, cheer-loving kind of person who enjoys wild parties. But I was and am someone who values relationships and being part of a 100+ year tradition and Greek Life helped me realize this.

The first time I experienced a ritual, I struggled to keep it together because I knew hundreds of thousands of women, from all walks of life, spanning generations, had said the same words, sang the same songs, and dressed the same way. This wasn’t because Greek Life forced conformity. I never felt more like an individual than when I was a college sorority woman. I felt this way because I was able to truly be myself because I knew my sisters had my back.

Does Greek Life have the potential to be a disaster on pretty much every level? Of course. Does it also have the potential to influence, challenge, and change students on pretty much every level? Without a doubt. I’m living proof. 

 

Gamma Phi Beta, Alpha Nu chapter Bid Day 2002

Gamma Phi Beta, Alpha Nu chapter Bid Day 2002

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Career Seasons

crafting + curating

Heading into my ninth year of work in student affairs, I am no veteran. But I have developed some perspective. October is about everything I love on a college campus. Students are getting in the full swing of classes, homesickness is slowly running its course, campus events are around every corner, and quite frankly, the campus looks just like the admissions brochures. It’s also Careers in Student Affairs Month (#csam14) and I can see why it’s easy this time of year to fall (no pun intended) in love with a higher education career working with students. But I think that it’s important that as we look at a career, we recognize that it is not a job for awhile or “until I figure out what I really want to do with my undergraduate major.” It’s not biding your time. A career is a long journey. I had a somewhat…

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Middle of Somewhere: 5 Ways to Stay Connected as a Middle Manager

We’ve all heard the adage, “The higher up you climb, the less student interaction you get.” I remember hearing this for the first time in grad school during a seminar my program hosted. Our VPSA walked us through a typical day, which consisted of approximately eleventy billion meetings, strategic planning, lots of emails, caucusing with other professionals at his level, and “If I’m lucky, I’ll have a quick conversation with our student office assistant.”

My naive grad school brain was floored. How could someone in such a position of power and decision-making have so little contact with the very people who would be impacted by such decisions? Why did the people with the least amount of [perceived] power (i.e. grad students such as myself) serve as advisors, supervisors, hearing officers, mentors, and more? I remember promising to myself that as I moved up, I would maintain regular contact with students at my institution.

Well, that is much easier said than done. I have recently transitioned from entry to mid-level management. This means I no longer supervise student leaders, I don’t have a front desk with a ton of student traffic feet from my office door, I don’t advise a hall council, I’m not expected to attend late night programming, I haven’t yet had a judicial case, and I work in a central office. Therefore, between administrative work, answering emails, having one-on-ones with with RDs, and running committees, it is entirely possible to go throughout the day and never see a student.

I was reminded of my grad school experience as I was transitioning into my new role and I was determined to not be an out-of-touch administrator, especially during my first year while I am still figuring out student culture. Even though the desire was there, the means were not as clear. I couldn’t just show up in classes or sit down to lunch with random students without being viewed as a creeper. I didn’t have the same responsibilities and expectations, and now I was living off-camus. This meant I usually left around 5pm and enjoyed cooking dinner, blogging, and catching up with Netflix. So how was I going to stay connected? For me, it was all about being intentional.

Duty Walks with RAs

Since I started my position the same day our grads did, I missed two weeks of RD training. I hadn’t had the chance to really walk our facilities or be on floors due to the blur of RA training and opening. I knew that if a major facility issue happened while I was on-call, I was going to struggle to envision the problem or quirks of our communities. Therefore, I’ve been doing the first set of rounds within one community per week since the start of school. This has not only helped me understand the unique needs of our community, but also connect with our incredible staff of Resident Advisors, as well as students we encounter while on our walks. There have also been a few challenging staffing situations in our department, so members of our Leadership Team are sometimes given the narrative of the bad guy, so I like to think of duty walks as a miniature goodwill tour as well.

Grad Assistant 1-on-1s

One of the very first things I did at the start of the year was send an invitation to all 13 of our Assistant Resident Directors and offer to set-up a lunch or chat over coffee. Nearly all of them took me up on my offer and I’ve been meeting with one or two ARDs per week. This has been absolutely amazing. Our department is fairly large (nearly 40 when everyone is present) so it is easy to lose connection with our graduate students in the haze of meetings and agendas. I’ve learned about their coursework, path into student affairs, side hobbies, how their staffs are doing, how they are transitioning to the field, or what their job searches may look like in a few months. These conversations have been mutually beneficial. I’ve received feedback that many grads appreciate someone in my role reaching out to them, getting to know them better, and also sharing pieces of my own journey.

Advising Opportunities 

When our chapter of NRHH needed a co-advisor, I jumped at the opportunity. Yes, this meant several more meetings and nighttime programs on my docket, but getting the chance to have direct contact with amazing student leaders was something I could not pass up. These student leaders represent the top 1% of all residence hall students on our campus so they are driven, organized, motivated, and genuinely invested in living out the organization’s values. I meet with the executive board every other week, do my best to attend general board meetings twice a month, and I plan to support my team as they put on monthly programs on campus. More time? Sure. Worth it? Absolutely.

Staff Meetings and Trainings 

I’ve offered up my love of presenting and facilitating staff development workshops to a few of the RA teams and I’ve been booked to present Strengths to an RA staff next week. This smaller, more focused opportunity not only helps me get more face time with our student leaders, but also takes some pressure off of the RD and ARD as they don’t have to facilitate the activity. I hope the RAs will enjoy learning more about their Strengths and how its impacts their leadership styles, and if it goes well, I hope to be invited to more staff meetings throughout campus.

Social Media Outlets

While the other options I’ve listed do require physical presence, engaging with students via social media can be done from the comfort of my home, usually while wearing sweatpants. I’m a firm believer in the phrase “lurking is learning,” so even if I’m not having conversations with students online, just scrolling through Instagram or searching for key phrases on Twitter gives me a jumpstart on understanding student culture. Also, for all of its shortcomings, Yik Yak has also served as a useful tool for me to see what is going through the heads of our student body, or even community members who are within a certain radius of campus. Yes, there are horrible things going on through the app (which is another post for another day), but I’ve also learned a great deal about classes, study habits, party culture, and transitional issues of students through the posts, upvotes, and comments.

In order to do my job well, I need to make decisions based on student needs and not just my perceptions of those needs. This can’t happen if I’m holed up in my office, huddled over my email, or constantly in meetings. Even if it means using some of my nighttime or weekend hours, its worth it in the end. I didn’t get into this field to work a typical 9-5 schedule, so sometimes those non-traditional hours make the 9-5 a heck of a lot easier.

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Sometimes My Job Sucks

Truth time: Sometimes my job sucks 

I work in Student Affairs, specifically within the area of Residence Life. I’m an Assistant Director, which means I work with our learning community programs, academic support initiatives, supervise full-time RDs, serve on committees, attend a lot of meetings, and deal with even more emails. Before this, I was a live-in Resident Director for seven years.

We are in the midst of Careers in Student Affairs Month, a time when we promote our field, tell our story, and jumpstart many an undergraduate student leader to join our ranks. I have been seeing a great number of engagement opportunities, from webinars, to an Instagram contest, to an essay competition, to the ongoing #CSAM hashtag on social media and within blog posts. I love this. Seriously. I think all of these offerings are incredible ways to showcase our work, but in the effort to “sell” Student Affairs, something gets lost in translation. 

What gets lost for me is that sometimes my job sucks. 

Not all the time, and I would argue not even most of the time, but sometimes, yes, my job sucks. And that needs to be part of the Careers in Student Affairs Month narrative too. Sometimes I have to deal with duty situations at 3am when I would rather be asleep. Sometimes I have to listen to two students argue about the most ridiculous details of living together when I just want to yell, “Grow up already!” Sometimes I gets angry calls from frustrated parents who decide I’m the reason their child isn’t thriving. Sometimes I’ve sought the help of a professional counselor due to a tumultuous relationship with a supervisor. Sometimes I felt guilty for not attending my RA’s programs or worse, felt resentful when I was in attendance when I would have rather been doing anything else. Sometimes I’ve been so frustrated with campus politics that I questioned how progress could ever occur. Sometimes I’ve gone blurry-eyed from the seemingly endless amounts of emails when a good portion of them could be addressed with a simple phone call, or even better, common sense. Sometimes I compare myself to friends in other professions who are purchasing homes or taking incredible vacations because their salaries provide for such luxuries. Sometimes I’m asked to do unthinkable things to support students, including being present when they are told their roommate has passed away. Sometimes I feel totally out of my depth. Sometimes I wonder why I’m trusted to do this work at all. Sometimes I’m exhausted. Sometimes I’m reminded that this is indeed a job, and sometimes it’s a job that sucks. 

But most of the time? Most of the time this work feeds my soul. Most of the time I know, at my core, that this work matters.

Most of the time I know that being present at 3am means I can support a student at what may be the worst moment of their collegiate career. Most of the time I’m reminded that the skills students learn during a roommate mediation may influence business, romantic, and friend relationships for years to come. Most of the time I hear the pain and worry in a parent’s voice who really just want to know that their child is going to be okay, and I can help be part of that process. Most of the time I’ve cherished the time I’ve spent with RAs and residents at programs, and the conversations have helped to shape my practice. Most of the time my colleagues and supervisors have helped me navigate campus politics to better serve our student population. Most of the time emails help us take a team approach to solving problems. Most of the time I know that while my friends are buying houses or going on vacations, they’ve never seen the growth of a student or staff member that fills you with so much pride, you can’t help but grin. Most of the time students in crisis thank me, genuinely, warmly, and usually more than once. Most of the time students make me laugh and help me reflect on my place in the world. Most of the time this field makes me examine both my privileged and marginalized identities. Most of the time, this job is not a job at all, but instead a vocation.

So yes, sometimes this job sucks, but I know this job always matters. Always. 

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