The way I came into student affairs resembles the story that I have found many other student affairs professionals had: I had a wonderful mentor who talked to me in a time of mid-college crisis when I didn’t know what to do after graduation and opened the door or our amazing field. She inspired me every day to become a professional, and I could not be more thankful that I had her in my life. When I decided upon this profession my junior year, I started doing everything I could at my undergraduate institution to become more prepared for graduate school. Being first generation, I didn’t think graduate school was a possibility for me, but I had so much support even before I made the decision to pursue student affairs and decided to go after my dream. When I was accepted at Western Illinois University, my dream became a reality. I was excited, nervous, anxious, terrified, happy, and proud all at the same time.
Though I only have one semester of graduate school under my belt, I can say I’ve learned more in a few months than I have in a long time. I can say with honesty that this experience has been one of the most educational and challenging experiences and I could not be more grateful that I’ve been afforded the opportunity to have it. I have expanded my mind so much in the classroom. I have learned things I never thought of before. I have used my brain in ways I never knew were possible. To try and summarize my semester in this short article would be impossible; let’s just say that it has been one of the greatest experiences of my life and it has certainly made 2014 one of the best years of my life.
One moment in particular that changed me this year, and forever, was having a student whom I work very closely with tell me I inspired him to go into student affairs. He and I had many conversations about him going into the field before he told me his decision. Apparently other people around him had told him he’d be good in the field so he started to consider it, but he never thought much about it. He told me that I am a really good advisor to the council I work with and that I am also a great mentor. Hearing this as a first-semester graduate student made my heart so full. I wanted to go into this field for many reasons, but one in particular was because of how my mentor inspired me. I wanted to inspire others but I never realized how much power I had to do that as a first-semester graduate student. Knowing that I had such an impact so early in my career makes me overjoyed to think of what’s to come. I’m not sure what 2015 has in store for me but I can say one thing with full confidence: if it is anything like 2014, then it will be a wonderful year for sure. Happy Holidays!