In fall 2013 I found myself almost 1400 miles away from home. Seven months out of graduate school I had finally found my dream job. It was the perfect combination of student development and social justice work. It was my job to teach about oppressive systems, challenge the institution and empower students to fight for equity and justice.
I could not have asked for a better opportunity, community and family than the University of Kansas, Office of Multicultural Affairs but what I did ask for was more money. With the wonderful leadership of Governor Sam Brownback (sense sarcasm) and knowing the budget limitations of higher education institutions across the state, I pessimistically advocated for a salary increase knowing that I couldn’t sustain myself without it.
I simultaneously began a job search back on the east coast where I could be closer to family- and by closer I mean live at home and save some money. I didn’t think I would get an offer as quickly as I did but I soon found myself packing up my beloved office and my apartment, loading my car, and beginning my 1400 mile journey back to Connecticut. Almost one year later to my start date at KU, I was leaving to return to my alma mater Wesleyan University, for a new job, title change, more money, and the opportunity to live at home.
One year was not enough at KU. I left unfinished, but my passion was not financially sustaining. I started my job search with the intent to find a balance between being happy in my job and the work I was doing and being financially secure. It was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. Choosing pay over passion, I still question if I made the right choice. Not to say I don’t love my new position, but it certainly is not the same. My transition here has been rough to say the least. I arrived in CT on the January 3rd, started my new job on the 5th and by February 1st I was operating as a one person office with my supervisor and mentor out with an unexpected injury. I have been thrown into the deep end, treading water tirelessly, adopting mottos such as “it’ll get done with it gets done” and “I’m only one person.” I went from an office of seven professional staff to an office of two and I can confidently say the only similarity between the two positions is that I have a kicka*s woman of color supervisor.
I am learning quickly, to saying no when I need to, asking for grace, patience and understanding and still focusing on finding that balance between the things I love to do and want to do with the things I have to do. I fill my soul by continuing to do my own social justice work through facilitation and presentations and guiding my students through their development as leaders and activists. It has been almost two months of a rough start while I continue to yearn for the community, support and family unit I had created at KU. But I am confident that the challenges I have faced thus far in my new position are only shaping me to be a well-rounded, spectacular, kicka*s woman of color student affair professional like my wonderful supervisors, mentors, and friends.
This post is part of our month-long series #SAmobile, a look at the stories of SA pros who picked up and moved for their career. This series is about the struggles, the successes, the hurdles, and the emotions involved in such a life changing decision. For more information, see the intro post by Juhi Bhatt. Check out other posts in this series too!