“I’d like to know: what do you do to show that you’re a leader on campus?”
The student’s inquiry stopped me for a second. After all, I had just asked her that exact question no more than ten minutes ago during an RA recruitment interview. We had come to the portion of the interview where the students could ask questions of me, the professional. And I didn’t quite know what to say. Though it pains me to admit it, my first thought was “I just am a leader on campus, because of my role in the residence halls.”
When you’re a professional on a college campus how do you show that you’re a leader? While our titles can give us the privilege of leading, guiding and advising students, it is up to us as professionals to determine how we’re going to lead those who look to us. I was unsure of how to answer the question because I hadn’t intentionally thought about my leadership role on campus in a long time—on a regular basis I give more energy to the day-to-day routines and to-do lists than the big picture, which I think happens to a lot of us in the field. When I began to ponder this subject, more questions began to surface. Do my actions reflect my values, goals, and abilities? What can I do to better lead my students? How am I proving that I deserve to be seen as a leader in my community?
The truth of the matter is I’m still contemplating the answers to these questions. Intentional reflection is necessary to grow—I expect it from my students, so why wouldn’t I do the same myself? As a professional, I must remember that it is my responsibility to not only connect with my students, but also to know who I am so that I can empower them to authentically grow and make meaning of their collegiate experiences. The student’s question was a good reminder to take time out to reflect and refocus on bigger picture items like leadership—something that everyone in our field should do every now and again.