Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Path to Student Affairs: NASPA Staff Member Joseph DeSanto

In response to my earlier post, Path to Student Affairs, my supervisor, Joey, wrote up his story. Joey is the assistant director of educational programs here at NASPA.

Joey's path:

How did I get involved in student affairs? It's the people!! Much of the first two years of my undergraduate experience was spent navigating a large four-year institution looking for my niche'. Unfortunately, one of the things no one really tells you about looking for community in a major metropolitan area is that it can be expensive! At the beginning of my junior year I was eligible for work-study. That fact, coupled with a need to bring in more income, resulted in me looking beyond my then job as a employee of the local record shop into something more permanent. My mother (I am and forever will be an only-child) forwarded me a job posting for a mentor in something called America Reads*America Counts (ARAC). Within a short period of time I had applied, interviewed, and was working as a after-school 4th grade math mentor at a local elementary school. Math was never my strong suit and most likely will never be. You can ask my co-workers who see my handiwork on an Excel file! It was the other mentors and most importantly the ARAC office staff who kept me passionate about my work. The math was secondary.

As my first semester with ARAC continued I found myself spending more and more time doing homework, visiting, and consulting with the office staff about school, work, and life in general. Many of them were graduate assistants or graduates of what was to me an enigmatic field called "student affairs". Near the end of that first semester a position opened in the ARAC office recruiting new members and publicizing the program. Any hesitation to apply never entered my mind and the position was shortly something I was proud to call my own. My new role with ARAC lasted until graduation day and during that time period I found new challenges, opportunities and most importantly mentors. Many weren't mentors in the formal sense. I never asked them to be my mentor but they became so through the example set via their commitment to college students and practice of inclusivity. ARAC offered me more than a job. I gained role models both personally and professionally who opened up networks, challenged my thinking while simultaneously being authentic and compassionate.

There were other avenues that facilitated my foray into student affairs and higher education life, but the leadership and service experiences through ARAC were truly unparalled. The people - even more so. The relationships formed during my time there introduced me to student affairs and established a foundation for future study and professional life in the field.

1 comment:

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