Gratitude is something I am not great at expressing. I’m not ungrateful and I say thank you when someone does something for me, but the practice of encouraging others and thanking people for their hard work has never been where I excel.
Where my supervisor will give her employees small gifts throughout the school year to thank us for our work, I view doing my job as the minimum expectation. I think of gifts of encouragement as rewards for something I am required to do. I thank her for the gifts and I appreciate them, but I wouldn’t think to give gifts if I was in her position. I don’t think to motivate people for meeting the expectation, only those who excel beyond. And even then I have room to improve upon when it comes to recognizing those who put in extra effort. There is something to learn from my supervisor on building an enjoyable work experience where daily efforts are recognized with going beyond the job requirements. There’s something to be said about recognizing the daily efforts of people.
Which is why this post is about a coworker, cohort mate, and friend: Tiffany.
Tiffany is one of the people I am most grateful that I have been able to connect with at University of the Pacific. She’s a rock that keeps me weighted when I feel frustrated with work or school, she’s genuine and caring, and she’s phenomenal at what she does.
Tiffany lives and breathes student affairs in a way I wish I could. She naturally engages in conversations on student affairs via social media and always seems to know what opportunities exist. She was a TPE ambassador (and later intern) last year before I even knew that TPE existed. Tiffany was the one who told me the Student Affairs Collective was looking for people to tell their story as an emerging student affairs professional. She did so because she knew I had an interest in journalism and is the type of person who wants others around her to succeed. She connects to this profession without effort and also connects others to student affairs.
Tiffany excels at her job as well, always focusing on what is best for her resident assistants and students who live in her apartment communities as a residence director. She challenges the status quo in positive ways, like this past fall when she updated the programming model for her community to direct focus on engaging individually with residents and ensuring the resident assistants meet the members on the community (which can especially important in apartment communities where socialization isn’t as common as in traditional-style residence halls). She looks for involvements for an earnest sense of professional development and is genuine in her commitments. Where I’ve seen others involve themselves to inflate their résumés, Tiffany has consistently chosen to become involved out of interest.
Tiffany shares and promotes knowledge among the group. She created a Facebook group for our cohort and is consistently posting resources and interesting articles relevant to student affairs. Tiffany’s the person who I have no doubt will succeed at her next job once she graduates in May.
On a personal level, Tiffany is thoughtful and kind.When I returned this semester she bought me a book about grilled cheeses because I had cooked us grilled cheese once last semester and discussed how I really enjoy making grilled cheese. (Seriously though, making different kinds of grilled cheeses is fun and I love a good grilled cheese sandwich.) She challenges me when I need to hear a perspective and listens to me vent when I need to talk out my frustrations. She’s one of the most considerate people I know and this post doesn’t do her justice.
She’s also my concert buddy, someone who will go see any show with me and with whom I can enjoy a great night out. Or if leaving campus is too much effort, a late dinner and night playing Oregon Trail Deluxe online (the game is far easier than I remembered from when I was a child). She’s someone whom I am grateful for and has been a consistently positive force in my graduate school experience.
So this post is for Tiffany, and it doesn’t do her justice. She’s the kind of everyday leader Drew Dudley talks about in his TED talk and a person who will go far in this profession. She is someone whom I do not thank enough for all she does to me and how grateful I am that she’s in this program. She’s someone whom I have learned from and continue to learn from and deserves all of my gratitude.
Thank you to Tiffany and I cannot wait for the next concert we attend.