2016 has been a year of change for me — I left the world of National Service after finishing my 2nd term as an AmeriCorps VISTA. I went from working on a mentoring program between the local college and local middle and high schools, to focusing strictly on college students in the residential setting of a college campus. I started a new job in a new state, leaving behind my old friends and colleagues I had met during my VISTA term.
With all of these changes taking place, I was having a hard time getting my feet on the ground. I felt like every day was going 100 miles a minute. I was trying to figure out how to keep up. I had always known I wanted to do something with my life that made a difference in someone else’s life. With the day-to-day struggles, I was struggling to see how I could make such an impact in higher education.
Not long after starting at my new institution, a former community partner of mine back in St. Mary’s County reached out to me asking me to speak at her teen girl empowerment conference in November. I agreed to help, figuring it would give me an opportunity to visit some old friends back in Maryland.
When there, I talked about my passion for access to higher education and tips for surviving college.
Once we got to the question and answer portion of the session, a high school senior stood up. I didn’t really recognize her, but she told me that she had recognized me. Turns out, she had participated in the mentoring program I managed last year. She told me how before the program, she didn’t see why it mattered to go to college. Now though, as she was preparing to graduate in the spring, she planned to attend community college next year and had already decided what to major in. She said that because of me, she decided to take her future into her own hands.
When I agreed to help at the conference, I did not expect much out of it. Leaving that conference, though, I felt rejuvenated. It reminded me why I wanted to work in Student Affairs and that sometimes, one small act can make a big difference. It reminded me why my work mattered and to continue to help these students complete their education and create goals for their lives. For me, that was my #OneGoodThing of 2016.
This post is part of our #OneGoodThing series for December. Given the numerous troubling things we have experienced together during the year of 2016, and all of the disagreement, we wanted to prove that 2016 wasn’t all bad. We will hear from #SApros about a memory, experience, or moment that was GOOD that happened to them in 2016. For more info, please see Doug’s intro post. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series too!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Kyle James on Student Leadership Careers