Early on in my career, I had the great opportunity to teach a first-year experience course focused on leadership development for the Honors College at Florida International University. I very clearly remember walking into my first class after weeks of preparation and realizing that I had no idea what I was doing.
I had facilitated educational sessions, lead a few retreats, and even presented at some national conferences but I had never been the main focus of knowledge for a group of 20 students for an entire semester. I decided that I needed to spend some time getting to know my students better so we spent that first class just talking. Conversations eventually lead us down to our favorite movies and I talked about my love for superhero movies. The students quickly jumped in and we realized that everyone had their own favorite.
I came prepared for my next class to talk about the leadership qualities of our favorite superheroes and how they were connected with our own leadership traits. It was through that connection that I found my passion for student learning in the classroom. I already knew that I was interested in student development outside of class but realizing that I could have an impact in student learning in the classroom was very exciting! I started connecting the dots between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs, and quickly realized that I wanted to keep working towards helping students develop holistically.
Finding a devotion to student learning helped me to refocus my interest in higher education. I even started to consider a faculty position in my future. I would urge each of you to find an opportunity to connect with students in the classroom; teach a first-year experience class, partner with your professors to be a teaching assistant, or connect with someone in academic affairs to learn more about their love for student learning.
And just to be clear…I’m Team Robin all the way! Don’t discount a hero just because he is a side-kick…everyone plays a part in saving the world!
This post is part of our #CSAM15 series, in partnership with NASPA. Through these posts, we hope to highlight what it means to have a career in Student Affairs with a diverse group of contributors. With a focus on the students, defining Student Affairs, hot topics, and Striving Towards Betterment, there will be a lot to learn about this month! For more information, check out the intro post by John Weng at NASPA. Be sure to read the other posts in this series too!