Continuing our featured posts for #CSAM14 we wanted to highlight what some #SApros & #SAgrads had to say about what motivates them and how they stay motivated. Here are a few answers from some wonderful contributors!
What motivates you to be a Student Affairs Educator?
I’m always motivated by remembering who I was when I came into college and who I was when I graduated. I owe a lot of my growth during that time to student affairs folks who guided me and gave me opportunities. I want to give that same experience to all of my students.
– Dustin Ramsdell
Working in Residence Life, it’s an easy reminder to me that we have a responsibility to help our students be comfortable in their home. There’s a lot of teaching and learning that happens when students are sharing their home in a community comprised of people they’re unfamiliar with. In Student Affairs, we have the privilege and responsibility of helping shape the way our students view the world.
– Steven Yeagley
I was lucky enough to have an amazing college experience. It was challenging, educational and most of all transformative. That experience is the bedrock of what I do. My goal is not to recreate that experience but instead to offer students as many opportunities as possible to have an experience that is as illuminating for them. I often speak with students about how the RA position was such a catalyst for me during my college experience. I want to help them find an experience that gives them as much as the RA position did for me.
– Pavan Purswani
The ability to genuinely connect with others including students and learn from them. In my current position, I don’t have as much direct student contact so I actively seek out opportunities to engage more with students and use the opportunities I am afforded with other colleagues to engage. This connection is even more enriching when those dialogues are based around social identities, difference, and social justice. While this not a core element of my functional area, I actively seek out opportunities to have enriching dialogue with students and other members of the campus community as often as possible.
– Bill Huff
I like this question, because I think may of us do consider ourselves educators. While I would like my long-term career to be based inside the classroom, there is so much learning that can and does take place outside the classroom. One of the things that really hit home for this is being given the title of Professional Faculty at Oregon State University. To me, this denoted that I had a professional (read M-F 8-5) position, but also that I was entrusted with the learning that our students engaged in. I have always “educated” (broadly defined) throughout my life (first as a music teacher, then as an HIV/AIDS educator, now as a diversity trainer), but what’s nice, at least in my experience, is there is a level of trial and error learning as an educator that I have found deeply profound. The best learning (specifically around social justice issues) that I have had is when a student expresses a different way of looking at the world and makes a valid point, counter to the one I am trying to make. For me, this is what it means to be an educator.
– Victor Santana-Melgoza
A passion for justice and equity and a belief that change is possible.
– Dafina-Lazarus Stewart
Heraclitus was a Greek philosopher known for his doctrine of change being central to the universe. One of his more famous quotes can be found in many iterations, but it is basically… “Nothing ever is, everything is becoming.” This process of change requires decisions. I am motivated as a Student Affairs educator by the challenge of facilitating decision making and change. I have the privilege of working with individuals who are in a dynamic, exciting, frightening, and joyous time in their lives. They let me spend some of this time with them, every single day and they allow me to be a part of this journey with them. To make it meaningful, I try to share a bit of myself and whatever wisdom I may conjure up in the moment. We encourage, we cajole, and we sometimes lend a kick in the seat of the pants. We sometimes bid farewell, but more often we dance and celebrate with those who make it. That is my motivation.
– Debra Sanborn
How do you stay motivated through draining or difficult experiences at work?
I stay motivated by taking a step back and remembering why I do what I do. And I do what I do so that students can have a memorable, educational experience through their co-curricular activities. When I refocus on the end goal, any difficult experiences are worth it if they helped to achieve it.
– Kaitlyn Dyleski
Hearing students tell their stories never fails to motivate me because no two students have the exact same path to earning a degree. A trip down to the Student O (where student org offices are housed) recharges my battery. When I hear a student share their experience, discuss their goals, or describe their resilience in the face of their reality, it is energizing and reminds me why I am in this field. No matter if it is my team’s work on a strategic plan, a relationship leveraged to create an internship, or a decision I make about scholarship funding, as long as I know it creates an opportunity for a student, I am pumped, energized, and motivated.
– Jason L. Meriweather
I have a few tools in my motivation kit that keep me going when I am in need of a pick me up. The first is quotes. People have told me I am an excellent quote finder. When I am at lost for words I always find the perfect quote that speaks to what I need at that moment. Pinterest is my quote bible. Next is my box of cards. In it are notes I’ve received from students and other colleagues. Lastly, is the tool of reflection. This tool is my greatest strength. Reflection is my way to learn and grown as a woman. Sometimes I reflect through conversations with others, sometimes I blog, and sometimes I sit in complete silence and re- energize that way.
– Kelley McCarthy
The main way I stay motivated is by relying on my colleagues and friends both in and outside the field. My fellow Graduate Hall Directors are my best resources when it comes to venting and then reflecting on difficult or challenging experiences. It is also extremely important for me to take “me” time on a daily basis. This usually means watching an hour of TV or reading my non-school book, but some people are strict about their gym time or spending time on a hobby. I think it is also important to realize that going through challenging experiences is the best way to grow and develop as a professional.
– Jess Shapiro
About Our Contributors:
Bio: Dustin is a graduate of the Rutgers University College Student Affairs Ed.M Program. He also is an alumni of University of Delaware, and currently works at Husson University in Maine. He is a proud nerd and self-affirmed “Higher Ed Geek” who is excited to connect with folks who share his love of deep conversations! Find out more at: about.me/dustin_ramsdell & follow him on Twitter, @HigherEd_Geek!
Years in Field: 0 – 1
Connect with Dustin on Twitter: @HigherEd_Geek
Bio: Steven Yeagley is a dad, active community member, and an Assistant Director of Residence Life at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He enjoys learning and teaching (in that order) and connects with colleagues through social media. You can connect with him on Twitter or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/stevenyeagley/.
Years in Field: 5 – 7
Connect with Steven on Twitter: @StevenYeagley
Bio: Pavan Purswani currently serves as the Assistant Director for Residential Education at Shippensburg University. His current role is primarily creating, developing and assessing Living-Learning Communities. He received his Bachelors degree at Bowling Green State University and his Masters at Shippensburg. During his time in the field he has worked at Bowling Green State University, Dickinson College and Shippensburg University.
Years in Field: 5-7
Connect with Pavan on Twitter: @PMPurswani
Bio: Bill Huff is one of the Associate Directors in the Office of Residential Living at Georgetown University currently working with Summer Programs. He received his MA in Student Development in Post Secondary Education from The University of Iowa and BA in Speech Communication/Theater & Secondary Education from Mount Mercy College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Bill devotes most of his professional energy toward engaging others in dialogue and reflection with a focus in social justice education.
Years in Field:8-10
Connect with Bill on Twitter: @williamdhuff
Bio: Victor Santana-Melgoza has been involved in social justice work and diversity training for over 15 years and has worked with organizations such as the Social Justice Training Institute, the National Conference for Community and Justice, Racial Aikido, and the Community Alliance for Diversity. He has written for The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine, and has been asked to contribute to Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Newspaper Tree, and the Journal of Ethnicity and Inequalities in Health and Social Care. Victor has also been invited to present with organizations such as Camp OUT Phoenix, Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, and the National Center for Student Leadership and was featured in an episode of the Life-Work Balance podcast. In addition to speaking and training, Victor is pursuing a master’s degree in communication with a focus on intercultural and LGBT related issues. His research interests include interracial relationships, communication of social change, and positive deviance. He also has expertise in small group and team communication, gender and sexuality, and intergroup dialogue. (Full bio at www.DiversityTalks.com)
Years in Field: 5-7
Connect with Victor on Twitter: @DiversityTalks
Bio: Graduate preparation faculty since 2005. Research and teaching interests focus on diversity and social justice broadly and specifically related to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and faith and meaning.
Years in Field: 11-15
Connect with Dafina-Lazarus on Twitter: @DocDafina
Bio: Debra works Scholarship Programs, First-Year Experience, Peer Mentor development, Study Away Programs at Iowa State University.
Years in Field: 20-29
Connect with Debra on Twitter: @DebraSanborn
Bio: A new professional from New England with avid interest in all things political, environmental, and coffee related.
Years in Field: 2-4
Connect with Kaitlyn on Twitter: @kjdyleski
Jason L. Meriweather
Bio: Jason L. Meriwether is the Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management & Student Affairs at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana.
Years in Field: 11-15
Connect with Jason on Twitter: @JLMeriwether06
Bio: Kelley McCarthy is a Hall Director for first year students at a Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN . Kelley is very proud to have graduated, and now work for a woman’s college and enjoys sharing her experiences with any one who will listen! In her spare time she volunteers on the marketing team for Girls On The Run Michiana , she loves to run, blog, and spend time with close friends.
Years in Field: 2-4
Connect with Kelley on Twitter: KMcCarthy8185
Bio: My name is Jess Shapiro and I am currently a first-year Master’s student in the College Student Personal program at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. My assistantship is with the Office of Residence Life where I work as a Graduate Hall Director. I became interested in student affairs as an undergraduate student at Boston College where I was involved in admissions, residence life, student government, and a variety of student organizations and mentoring programs.
Years in Field: 0-1
Connect with Jess on Twitter: jshap722
This post is part of our #CSAM14 series, looking to highlight both the careers of amazing student affairs professionals, and specific questions that dig deep into what it means to be in student affairs. Each post reflects the insights of student affairs professionals of all kinds. For more information, check out the intro post by Ryan Bye.