As someone who has had the distinct pleasure of connecting with so many inspiring and passionate individuals within the field of student affairs, it should come to no surprise that sharing only one transformational relationship is particularly difficult. While reflecting on who to consider for this blog I thought about the great support systems I have in the #SAGrad community, the many current and former supervisors, and all the great professionals I have met during conferences. Ultimately, I felt that I had to discuss the strong relationship I have formed with a mentor and friend while I was at my undergraduate institution.
My mentor Sherrod Williams in many ways is the reason as to why I even chose to enter the field of Student Affairs. While working under his tutelage at the University of Massachusetts Boston I grew in ways I couldn’t even fathom. I entered post-secondary education as a naïve, dualistic thinker, and academically engaged student, but left with a greater capacity to think critically, a large network of educated individuals, and enhanced skill set that expanded far outside the classroom. This being said, I am not here to discuss how much I have learned from this man, however critical it has been to my development. Rather, I am here to share what has made this relationship so special to me within the field of student affairs.
So I assume a good place to start is the beginning. From the first day I met Sherrod within the Office of Student Leadership and Community Engagement, it was quite literally the definition of two completely opposite folks completely connecting. Picture me an incredibly loud, expressive, and stubborn student and Sherrod, a very introverted, calm, and cool administrator. Many would assume that Sherrod would run away from such a person, similarly to the chicken in the comic strip above, but he didn’t and it really paved the way for our relationship. Almost immediately after meeting, I was working along side Sherrod on a multitude of programs and often conversing about critical issues in higher education. These conversations ranged from the role of multicultural affairs, to systems of oppression, ultimately leading me to identify Sherrod as someone I considered a confidant in all my personal and professional matters. I essentially would go into Sherrod’s office and vent or shamelessly cry on a daily basis all while he just actively listened.
I can truly say, not much has changed. We currently keep in touch on a regular basis and converse about graduate school woes, my consistent financial instability, hot topics in higher education, theory, baby animals and much more. Additionally, we are also attempt to meet up whenever I am back home and during NASPA. Our friendship has grown on so many levels, and he is someone I look up to and aspire to be like. Through my conversations with Sherrod I have been able to define my purpose in the field, be strategic in my pursuits, and continually consider my self-care. All of this being said, Sherrod is still very much an introvert so I will keep you all posted on how he reacts to my sharing a little bit about our connection in the field of student affairs.