Posted by Kathy Petras | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 31-03-2010
So to people outside of the field of Student Affairs, I sometimes have a difficult time helping them understand what it is that I do on a daily basis. Why I end up working late hours. Why I don’t mind giving up my weekend to go on a retreat with a bunch of 18-22 year olds. Post-ACPA, I have had a resurgence of motivation about my chosen profession. I think a lot of us get those “Post-Conference” highs where we want to come back and make changes to do an even better job in our current positions. High aspirations abound and our “to-do lists” (at least for those of us that are “J’s”) double or triple with our new thoughts and ideas. But beyond that, what kind of person is the “Real” Student Affairs Professional. So, I’ve tried to figure that out, and I’ll use myself as an example as I progress through this blog post. (I will also include photos when able.)
First of all, if that saying “You are what you eat” really did apply, I would currently be a purple frosting cupcake. That is currently going to be my breakfast this morning, courtesy of my awesome GA – @BeccaFick (for those of you on Twitter) – I haven’t eaten it yet, I’m waiting until after I finish this blog post to enjoy the yumminess that will be that cupcake.
But if I took the saying literally, I’d say we are creative people no matter what our specialized area may be. And we’re humble. We don’t need to be a whole cake. We don’t need to have a lot of flair and frosting. (although, those delightful paper wrappers at the bottom can be very colorful at times.) But we tend to be the glue that holds things together for our students. Not that there is glue in the cupcake (thank goodness) but ever try to eat a piece of cake with your fingers? Doesn’t stick together as well as the cupcake.
We look for inspiration in the most unusual places. Like a Gandhi doll.
We all need to be accessible – or at least have access to our email & Twitter accounts – therefore we all have smart phones.
We sometimes have to teach about the more awkward topics – like STI’s – (Herpes courtesy of the Harvard Bookstore)
We have moments when we probably realize how we don’t always make the big bucks – but somehow the difference we are making in the lives of students is completely worth it. Even in the moments where you spend time searching your desk and counting the pennies in your drawer to see if you had 100 pennies in order to get a coffee refill that costs $1.00. No? That was just me? oh….
But you have those moments where a student stops in your office and sits in a chair to get your advice. And even when sometimes you are on a deadline, you stop what you are doing, turn away from your computer for a few moments (yes even I turn away from my computer) and you take the time to listen.
You critique the resumes, even if you don’t work in Career Services.
You help calm the stressors and relationship issues and class pressures, even if you don’t work in the Counseling Center.
You remind them to not wear athletic socks to interviews, even when you are not their parent.
You dance it out in the office, not because you need it, but they need it. (ok, sometimes I really need it.)
And at the end of the day (mine usually later than others at times) you are tired, but for some reason, you don’t seem to mind anymore. Because when you look at your students, when you’ve seen how they have grown, when you see what they have learned come to fruition as they become “adults” – that’s the part that matters.
So even when you have the students that annoy you, or don’t know how to send mature emails, and constantly make bad choices – I know we all stop still and say – how can I help them learn?
We never stop educating.
So while I’m sure there are many other things I could have included, I have a cupcake waiting, as well as a massive to do list. Enjoy.