Friday, June 20, 2008

Path to Student Affairs

I got my start in student affairs as an undergraduate. I had a rough freshman year, one that I jokingly describe (much to my mother's horror) as the year I dropped out of college twice. More accurately I transferred at semester and then stopped out to go to work full-time at the end of the academic year. As it turned out, spending a year working on campus was the best thing I could have done.

I served as an AmeriCorps Team Leader for the Montana Campus Compact at UM. I supervised a team of 10 part-time members who ran various poverty and literacy related programs like Habitat for Humanity and America Reads/America Counts. Although I was working full-time at the Office for Civic Engagement, the year provided me with the opportunity to explore what I wanted to do when I went back to school (despite my not-so-stellar first-year experience I knew I would go back). I was also hooked on student programming.

Upon returning to school the next fall, I signed up for a part-time AmeriCorps term of service. I worked as a service-learning liaison for the Drama/Dance Department and helped to build a course for advanced students to get them involved in Artsbridge, a national program that places art students in public schools to teach through their artistic medium. Aside from working with the students who took the course, building curriculum and working with faculty also proved to be intriguing and professionally satisfying.

During my senior year I worked as the co-coordinator of the MultiCultural Alliance at the University Center (UM's college union). This job provided me with the opportunity to explore campus climate issues, collaborate with staff, faculty, and administrators, and create programming that spoke to our particular cultural context. This work led to the implementation of the Day of Dialogue program which is still in its third year. My connection with the MultiCultural Alliance also included co-teaching a one-credit course called Intergroup Dialogue during my sophomore, junior, and senior years.

Student affairs permeated not just my 'student life', but my early professional life as well. I found things I was passionate about...and some things I was decidedly not passionate about. One of the cool things about student affairs is the broad scope of our work, as well as the many paths professionals take to get into the field. I would love to hear about how and why you got involved in student affairs. How did you know it was the field for you? Leave your stories in the comments.

1 comment:

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