Inspiration can come in many forms and from many angles in life. You can be inspired after a cup of coffee…or 5 cups, you can be inspired by seeing a kind gesture by a stranger, or maybe you are constantly being inspired by the people in your daily life from your family, friends, colleagues, or in my case the kids I nanny everyday.
I haven’t begun my career in Student Affairs yet, but I am certainly on my way there. I am currently in my final year as a grad student in Loyola University Chicago’s International Higher Education program. I can proudly say the fellow students in my cohort have inspired me in this field. At first, it was completely intimidating to be surrounded by such intelligent and accomplished students. Most of the students in my program have already made strides in student affairs, and I felt I was the behind the curve in pursuing a career, but I have learned with time that I am where I need to be at the moment.
When I began this program I knew I had a passion for travel and for study abroad, and I wanted to inspire as many students as possible as a future study abroad advisor to find an opportunity to go abroad during their collegiate career. The theories and concepts I have learned through my program have given me even more inspiration to help students study abroad. While some might view study abroad as a frivolous aspect to college, I view it as a vital and fundamental aspect of college. While abroad, you are presented with incredible opportunities to learn and develop intellectually as well as culturally. It is a beautiful and inspirational chance of growth that everyone should have the door opened to them; however as I have realized more and more, this door tends to be closed and locked more than it is opened. This is a field that is dominated heavily by white women, and while I do identify as a white woman, I can assure you, more than just white women want to go abroad to study, to learn, to teach, to explore and to discover themselves.
So my original inspiration of wanting to help as many students as possible hasn’t necessarily changed, but it has been reinforced with ensuring equality and opportunity in study abroad. My personal inspiration to go into student affairs is not all that unique from others who want to go into the field; however what is important to hold onto is the passion we all have at the start of our road, wherever or whenever it may begin. I think our inspirations can develop and change over time, but I believe that our passion for students and for bettering their higher education experiences is something that must remain strong and powerful throughout our careers, and hopefully it only grows with time.
Inspiration is a beautiful cyclical concept in life – student affairs administrators are inspired by their students, the students are inspired by their administrators and the higher education students inspire future students. Inspiration can be a powerful tool if we let it be successful in its circular path.
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