by Jen Gonzales, Director, Student Life and Brandon Smith, Coordinator, Residence Life and Education and members of the RoadToCACUSS steering committee.
Two years ago, 6 Student Affairs professionals took a recreational vehicle and travelled from Ryerson University in Toronto, ON to Vancouver, BC—the host of CACUSS 2015. This group explored six universities in Canada and the United States, spanning three provinces and seven states. The goal in 2014 was to engage in a reflective journey of personal and professional development. We learned about each other, our professional identities, and how connected our field was across the continent. We learned many similar challenges faced us, regardless of institution type and location.
While on the RV, we looked up the location for #CACUSS17. We jokingly asked ourselves, “Could we ride our bikes to Ottawa?” We talked about how we could expand the project to include anyone from the CACUSS community. Our intent was to welcome others to experience the learning and transformative experience in which we were engaged.
#RoadToCACUSS 2017 was born with the goal of multiple participants successfully cycling over 450 km from Toronto to Ottawa, ON. This iteration, we decided to focus on a question we believe is paramount to all in our community. We know the work we do to support the student experience outside of the classroom is important, but who do we have to be to best deliver this support? Why should students trust us? Is a flourishing Student Affairs professional better able to support the student experience?
We sent out an open invitation across CACUSS.
Participants from Ryerson, Queen’s, and Western University will leave Sunday, June 4 from Toronto. They will arrive in Ottawa on Thursday, June 8. Each participant has committed themselves to the physical training and mental challenge it will take to successfully cycle to Ottawa, while raising awareness and funds for a cause that touches all of our work: the mental health and well-being of our students.
Participants have committed to bring awareness to their own developments and connect a personal and/or professional challenge they are experiencing to Martin Seligman’s PERMA-V framework. Each week, participants will be introduced to a component of the model and an exercise from the ThriveRU Workbook that will help them develop resilience as we experience this journey. In addition, all participants will fundraise for Jack.org, which will allow for student groups to develop anti-stigma initiatives related to mental health and illness across 120 chapters at universities and colleges in Canada.
Fifteen professionals from many areas of Student Affairs and Services—including Student Development & Counseling, Housing & Residence Life, Student Learning Support, Career Education, and Student Life—have accepted the challenge.
Along this journey, they will:
– Identify a personal and professional challenge they desire to transform
– Identify how one can use two components of Dr. Martin Seligman’s PERMA-V (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishment, and Vitality) model to transform a personal and/or professional challenge through discussion and reflection
– Connect their experience to the development of one competency from the CACUSS competency model
– Consider how PERMA-V may inform their activities, personal/professional development, and modeling of holistic health through reflection and discussion
Our work calls us to innovatively solve problems, while maintaining personal well-being and model wellness to colleagues/students. We’ll put our wellness on the line during this iteration of the #RoadToCACUSS. We invite you to join us in weekly flourishing exercises and to donate to the Jack Project. We invite you to share your personal journey preparing for #CACUSS17 and to become a part of this dynamic conversation. We’re excited to share our stories as we connect across our various journeys to #CACUSS17!
Follow the #RoadToCACUSS journey before, during, and after on http://roadtocacuss.ca and if you’re attending share your own journey using #RoadToCACUSS.