Why Student Affairs? Because We Are ACPA!
Check out the voices of those who responded with their reflection on "What's Your Why" during Careers in Student Affairs Month, and their commitment to the field of Higher Education and Student Affairs.
No other profession allows me the opportunity to bring my full, authentic self to work and to nurture, encourage the same of the others in my work environment: colleagues and students. The work I get to do in community building, social justice education, and well-being is a contradiction to what exists in the world today…I get paid to be part of radical change!
Lisa Landerman, Roger Williams University
My why is that I want to be a mentor and role model for students, just like I had when I was a student. I want to encourage and inspire those students who don't see the potential in themselves and need a little nudging.I want to help others be the best versions of themselves. I want to help others discover their passion and follow it, regardless of what others might say or think. I want students to want to create a better world for tomorrow.
Karol Martinez-Doane, Maryland Institute College of Art
It was through my interaction with a resident that was packing up to leave the Hall at the end of the year. As she was leaving I asked her how she was and I that I hoped that she had an enjoyable time at Trinity Hall. She looked back at me with tears welling up in her eyes and said that it was the worst year of her life. We sat down and she told me about her experience on Hall, my jaw dropped and it was from that moment that the spark was ignited. I made a personal decision to become an advocate to stop hazing from happening on my Hall and on the entire campus. My first question to myself, was to find out about this strange phenomenon and activity, I asked persons what I needed to do, then I decided to conduct some research on my own. I then realized that it was bigger than I thought and that it took personal commitment and involvement in what students were doing after hours –as well as to take my head out of the sand and make a change within myself. My personal growth and development meant applying for a Masters Degree in Student Personnel Administration and being provided with the necessary tools and skills through training, it open my eyes to better understand how I could be a more effective change agent. With the knowledge that I gained from my degree and through my involvement with the ACPA membership as well as attending Conferences that fuelled my spark into a burning flame of passion for my field of Student Affairs. I continue to fight the good fight of Student Affairs at the University of the West Indies, and I am happy to say that although it has not been completely removed, it has been reduced. My personal commitment of sharing the unhappy experiences of residents with Faculty, staff and other students continues to make a difference. New codes of conduct have been implemented and policies have been improved due to informing and educating faculty, staff and students on the harmful effects that hazing inflicts on residents. Therefore my WHY is hazing prevention and its impact on residents quality of life.
Allyson Logie-Eustace, University of the West Indies-St. Augustine
I believe deeply in the growth and development of people. Students and staff push me to grow, develop, and change and I have the joy of watching and supporting their journeys. I love it when I see a student struggle with something and come out of it on the other side with new skills, confidence, and agency! I love it when a staff member gets out of their comfort zone to make a difference on campus! Student Affairs work is the best.
Laura Bayless, University of Wisconsin-Platteville
To be around people that inspire me… from students to colleagues… is what motivates me. My why is to make change and to make the world a better place.
Paul Brown, Roompact
My why? I’m a student affairs professional because I love shaping the development of college students, Because it lets me work toward a more just world, have my thinking challenged and expanded, and because I get to work with some of the most passionate and smart people I’ve ever met.
Ellen Melissa Broido, Bowling Green State University
My WHY—because we get to impact and shape the future thinkers of the world! That’s a huge responsibility and my hope is that we accept the challenge to foster communities of respect and love. My why is the future world we are impacting right now!
Erin Simpson, University of Oklahoma
To develop professionally so that I can positively impact the future of higher education.
Gavin Henning, New England College
Started in the field because I wanted to be an educator outside of the classroom. I maintain a similar why as educator preparing our newest members to the profession for the rewarding, but often challenging experiences of being a student affairs professional. Both then and now I use a lens of social justice in the work I do.
Richard Stevens, Shepherd University
Because there is always the possibility of better. Better support. Better services. Better advocacy. Better representation. This field does not sit still. I am a student affairs graduate student and future professional because I want to take part in the never-ending process of crafting a better higher education experience for all students.
Hannah Holdridge, clemson University
Every morning I wake up as a free man, I understand the sacrifice that was made by so many to give me that freedom. We have a high population of Veteran and active duty military students at Sonoran Desert Institute, and I strive to work as hard as I can every single day to provide the absolute best experience for all students because I revere the example that has been given to all of us by our service members past and present, including my father who is a Veteran of the Marine Corps. They fought for all of us to have the freedom to pick any school to attend as well as live a life in a democratic society. Even though I know I can never repay the debt, my focus each day is to honor all of our brave service men and women with my best effort to help students obtain the schooling they desire. Thank you.
Rob Exham, Sonoran Desert Institute
Working with and for students!
I want to add value to every connection so that I can support others in their journey to flourish and thrive.
Erin Clifford, University of Toronto
My name is Krystal-Gayle O’Neill and I am currently an Area Coordinator at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. I came to the US about 10 years ago to do my MBA and was slowly recruited to the Masters in Higher Ed. Program at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, FL. Student Affairs doesn’t exists as it does here in the US in my home country Jamaica so it was amazing to see that I could get a career in Higher Education outside of academia. Many times people have said I should use my MBA and go make money in Finance but the value that I get out of impacting student lives in my every day interactions is something money cannot buy. I truly love this profession and I think it helps that my department and university are super supportive of me also as a professional. Money can’t buy everything and when people ask me why I do the work I do with the little pay that I get, I tell them it’s because my joy comes from seeing students succeed and thrive in their communities.
Krystal-Gayle O'Neill, Wesleyan University
I work in student affairs because dozens of professionals guided and supported me through my undergraduate experience. I saw the impact they could have on countless students and I wanted to use my skill set to pass on this mentorship to others. I go to work every day ready to make a difference in a student’s life.
My "WHY" can be summed up in one word: BETTERMENT As a community college student affairs dean, I get great joy from working with students, staff and systems to foster growth and improvement. My "WHY" is about creating better students, better staff, better jobs, better lives, a better college and a better world.
Kelli Sinclair, Waubonsee Community College
I think what gets me going every day is what gets almost everyone in the field going – a passion for making higher education work for students.
Monica Christensen, Manhattan School of Music
My name is Wayne Glass (He / Him / His pronouns) and I am a Residence Hall Director at Macalester College located in St. Paul, Minnesota. I chose Student Affairs as my aspirational career of choice in 2010 as a result of embarking upon a plethora of life-changing undergraduate leadership opportunities and connecting with amazing Residential Life, New Student Orientation, and Recreational and Sports Services’ professionals. The folks at the University of West Florida, my Alma Mater, helped pave the way for me to have a transformational undergraduate experience. Thus, upon completing my degree, I was very fortunate and grateful to have been able to continue my education at Iowa State University where I pursued a Masters of Education in Higher Education in Student Affairs and navigated assistantships in Student Conduct, LGBT Student Services, and Student Assistance and Outreach. Now that you have a ‘snapshot’ of my Resume, which is not my intent behind naming these experiences, I would like to make the claim that the reason why I am in Student Affairs is because of the people. Waking up every day and getting to make an impact (ostensibly positive) on another person’s (or people’s) live(s) is the most rewarding, refreshing, and endearing opportunity I have had in my life thus far. For those who do not know me, I love people; their nuances, complications, stories, and how they choose and/or are able to live their lives. And if I get to strive to make a positive, systemic impact on people’s lives, then by goodness I am sticking around in this field... for as long as I am physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally able.
Wayne Glass, Macalester College
My why is to serve as a resource to students and help them through their transition to college.
Steven Sajkich, Miami University-Ohio
My why is helping to improve on the student experience and helping students have a meaningful time while at an IHE.
Jasmyne Channel, Ohio University
When I was in undergrad I participated in a leadership conference that had an inspirational mentor. One day we asked him why was he spending time with college students, he simply replied, “Your potential is my passion.” That phrase has become the cornerstone for my career within Student Affairs. By focusing on students becoming better versions of themselves my interactions with them have had true meaning and purpose. Some of the best memories I’ve had with students are when I’ve seen the lightbulb go off in their head when they finally realize they can achieve something they didn’t think was possible before. These experiences have driven me each and every day to find new ways in which I can help students reach their full potential. While the work that I do may be difficult, and sometimes thankless, in the end I hope that my passion will have resulted in students finding their true potential in life.
JW Tabacchi, Point Park University
I was recruited to work as an undergraduate math TA and tutor (many years ago) in the then, Learning Skills Center at the University of Pittsburgh. My supervisor showed me a way to help students succeed that I had never considered before-academic support at colleges/universities. I loved it! ...and now I have a very similar position to hers. My WHY: Mentor!
Megan Bergandy, University of Maryland
Working in collegiate recovery, I get to support students every day who have been through some of the worst things you can go through, and have had the strength, courage and resiliency not only to enter recovery from a substance use disorder, but to choose to pursue their education in an environment where it isn’t always easy to stay sober. These students are truly incredible – they remind me every day of the strength of the human spirit, the importance of living in the moment, and the power of community to transform lives. I have the best job in the world because I get to see every single day that #RecoveryWorks and be a part of transforming youth recovery – one community, one school, one student at a time.
Lauren Slemenda, Transforming Youth Recovery
I became a student affairs professional right out of undergrad because I loved my college experience and wanted to help others. After 3 years as a hall director, I went on for my master's degree because I intuitively knew a lot about working with students, but I wanted to know the theory behind what we do so I could be more effective. In the end, it's always about the students with whom I work. I truly enjoy my time with them and beyond my helping/educating them, they teach me as well.
Shelly Mumma, St. Norbert College
My Why is- To Inspire and Encourage Others so that Differences are Made in the World
Kyonna Henry, Ripon College
College students come in at all different points in their lives and development. They are in college for a purpose, for pursuit of self-betterment. Each and every one of them needs someone in their corner. They need someone to believe in them, to believe in what they can succeed. I am here because I believe in all of them.
Amber Hay, Bowling Green State University
I work with students both in my position as alumni director and also in my role as a private career coach. My WHY is simple: to help young people discover what unique contribution they will make to the world!
"When I didn't believe in myself, you were always there to encourage me, and you never gave up on me." - a letter from a student after her first year as a student-athlete. This was my first year as an Academic Coordinator for student athletes as a graduate intern and my experience combined with the students' response and growth, solidified my passion for working with students.
Krista Burke, California Polytechnic State University
I entered the Student Affairs profession because of my experience in college. I went to a very small women’s college, where the Dean of Students was the only student affairs professional on campus. As it happened, I got a work study job in her office. As I watched her during my four years there, I decided that I wanted to do what she did. It took me a while to figure out exactly how to do that, and that one could actually get a degree to support the profession, but I found my way in nonetheless. I tell students that I liked college so much that I never left!
Dianne King, Anderson University
"...Because who else will? As educators we are called to provide services and guidance for each and every student possible. We need our students just as much as they need us and I couldn't picture any other field to be apart of"
Joe Hohman, Harcum College
I love this question because all of us have a unique story of WHY we got into the field of Student Affairs. And while we all have unique stories, much of the WHYs have something in common – we all had an experience on campus that we wanted to replicate for future students. So, whether that was being a part of a student organization, living on campus or serving as an SGA representative, we all had an experience that we wanted to share. Much of my WHY is based on my undergraduate involvement (residence life and student activities) and the nudging of a supervisor to apply for graduate school. Many of our stories probably start in a similar fashion and that serves to connect us as higher education professionals. 20+ years later, I still value the opportunity to positively impact a student’s success and experience.
Angie Montelongo, University of Houston-Clear Lake
I am an #SAPro because I believe in the transformative power of education that focuses on the whole student, embracing all of their identities, especially those that are traditionally marginalized. #SACareers give you the opportunity to educate, advise, support, and challenge students to become the powerful future leaders we need. #ACPAWhatsYourWHY
Jessica Gjerde, University of St. Thomas
My why is to create a better world for my five year old.
Stephen Quaye, Miami University-Ohio
#ACPAWhatsYourWhy My why is because I believe student affairs has the potential to radically shift the way that equity and inclusion is understood in higher education. Critical examinations of oppression and marginalization, and critical praxis, has the opportunity to empower and liberate all of our students. faculty, and staff. A decolonization of our minds can stem from the types of developmental education that student affairs faculty and staff do in their day to day. My why is because I have been told that I wasn't good enough to get into graduate school and I am now a faculty member in a student affairs program. My why is because I was told that we teach too much social justice and I see marginalization in more places than I can count. My why is because I am a bi-racial, first generation, queer man who has experienced multiple intersecting oppressions in this world and I don't want others to experience the same thing. My why is because I believe that even the most privileged people in our world can find THEIR WHY and connect to become accomplices in dismantling systems of oppression. We have a unique opportunity to shape our future as a field and we have to take the moment we have to reshape our society in positive ways.
Dian Squire, Iowa State University
The students are my WHY. Their passion, their humor, their activism, their desire for a more inclusive and respectful society.
Nicki Viso, Humboldt State University
As I was talking to my RAs this morning in our 1:1s, I started to notice trends. We discussed growth and change this week, and most of my RAs said they’ve developed tremendously since coming to college. They brought up new friend groups, different schedules, and other influences that have catalyzed their change, but they didn’t realize how different they’ve become until someone—meaning me—asked them to reflect on their time in college.I think today my answer to the question, “Why?” is this: I wake up each morning and do what I do because everyone needs someone to ask the questions they need asked, and I want to be that catalyst for positive growth in my students, cohort, and colleagues.
Meagan Mullen, Grand Valley State University
Education is a game changer for everyone who is able to take the opportunity. I work to make education an opportunity everyone can take.
WHY do I do Student Affairs? Because every time I see the lightbulb go off in a student’s mind about all the possibilities they have to make higher education, their campus, their world a better, more inclusive place, I am brought to tears of joy. Nothing is more fulfilling than making a daily difference.
Mark Sanders, Arizona State University
I work in Student Affairs because I get the unique opportunity to create major learning opportunities in quick, five minute interactions, two hour programs, semester long internships, and across a four year college career. I get to help students uncover the best parts of themselves and challenge their assumptions and perspectives about the world we all share. And the best part of the whole deal...the learning is reciprocal.
Jennifer Ferrell, Keene University
As an undergrad, I participated in an activity through Student Government where I was asked to compose a personal mission statement. After much reflection, I wrote “My personal mission is to dedicate myself and my actions toward engaging in authentic relationships while remaining observant, empathetic, and open to the perspective of others and the possibility of change.” Now working as a Student Affairs professional, this personal mission still rings true for me as I seek to engage with students, encourage transformative learning, and open doors for positive change. It was and continues to be my “why”.
Rachel Aho, University of Utah
To support and promote underrepresented populations. To be a voice for students who have historically been left out of (or unable to participate in) the conversation about academic success and personal development. To be a representative person of color for students who do not regularly see college administrators who look like them.
Marquis Bennett, Morrisville State College
I believe that I have found my calling...to serve within a profession where I am able to do my part in mending our world...making it a better place for a future generation of leaders and change agents.
Donna Lee, Macalester College
The following is a brief summary of "why" I chose to pursue a career as a student affairs educator: As an undergraduate student paraprofessional at Colorado State University, I was exposed to caring mentors, deep thinkers, and opportunities to make a difference with my peers and others. I was a music major at the time and have maintained that interest throughout my life. However, after seeking the advice of my Dean of Students, I embraced the call to a career in student affairs, a decision which has brought more purpose and fulfillment than I could ever imagine as a 20 year old just getting started in life. The inspiration of deep undergraduate involvement coupled with early career and doctoral study at the University of Maryland inspired me to serve students first and to deepen the impact of learning and development beyond the classroom throughout my career.
Dennis (Denny) Roberts,
"I work in the field of student affairs, because as an educator outside the classroom, I know I can make a significant impact regarding cultural diversity education, inclusion, and accessibility. I am committed to the work, because I believe the young adults entering and graduating from our institutions will be the cultural workers for equality."
Liz Thomson, University of Illinois-Chicago
Student Affairs practitioners in my undergraduate helped me become the person that I am today. Without the push from Hall Directors and other supervisors to succeed and reach my goals, my college experience would have been far more stressful and taxing than it already was. I hope that I'll be able to empower students and guide them in the same ways that my supervisors and friends did for me when I needed it most.
Charlie Haycook, Salem State University
My ‘why’ is found in those moments when I’m working with a student who doesn’t see their own potential, but then puts on a great program or facilitates a thoughtful discussion or helps a fellow student with great compassion, and suddenly they begin to realize that they are significant. It comes when I challenge students to think and act beyond themselves, and they exceed all expectations and do more than they ever thought possible. I love working with students and seeing them dive into leadership and find an opportunity that transforms their college experience.
Travis Schilla, Missouri State University
My WHY are my mentors from undergrad, I want to touch students’ lives much like they have for me. These mentors helped me long after graduation, they helped me through some of the most difficult years of my life both in and out of college. I want to make a difference in just one person’s life, like my mentors did for me.
Sarah Tansits, West Chester University
My why is: Because it’s a passion I discovered when I was an undergrad active member in residence life, admissions, student activities, campus ministry, and recreation. I thrived more outside of the classroom and wanted to turn my passion into a career.
Felicia Garcia-Wedemeyer, Lycoming College
I am an emerging student affairs professional because I believe that higher education is an incredible privilege. It is a privilege for students to pursue a degree. It is a privilege for students to be dared to think deeper about themselves and how they impact this world. It is because of this privilege that they receive, that I get the privilege to cultivate holistic learners and civic doers. There is no doubt in my mind that these folks will change the world. Knowing that I get to challenge and support them on their journey through higher education reminds me that although higher education is their privilege, their very presence is my privilege.
Alex Honsberger, Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
My "Why" for being a faculty member in higher education is that I am provided with the opportunity to impact the lives of students and the field through research, scholarship, and service to the field and my students.
Chinasa Elue, Kennesaw State University
Student Affairs has been my “Wizard of Oz”. Student Affairs has helped me find the courage to be myself, the heart and passion in helping others, the brain to constantly seek out opportunities, and most of all a home, a place to belong. I hope to pay it forward and be a Wizard to all my students and employees, giving challenges and pulling strings. Everyone deserves to know and be the best version of themselves before heading out to the real world.
Anthony Florendo, University of the Sciences
My why - I want to work with and alongside students in college and help them develop. If that means writing learning outcomes, navigating politics, a million meetings, and thinking about the law always, then so be it. I will do all of that work so I can help students have a meaningful and transformative college experience where they discover the interesection of their passions and purposes.
Alex Lange, Michigan State University
"I am getting my master in Higher Education Administration in hope that one day I will become a successful Student Affairs professional. As an international student from the Southeast/East Asia region, I want to show everyone that you can "do what you love and still make it" in the United States as a foreigner. Having a role model who look like you is proven to be beneficial to college students in their development, thus I want to become a role model for Asian college students. I want to be a support person for students who have left home, far or near, in order to further their education. I want to help create a safe environment for growth and to help foster well-rounded citizens. I want to become a Student Affair professional because I will be able to use my skills and contribute to something that is bigger than myself."
Yuan Zhou, University of Dayton
I have vivid memories of a discussion I had with my college mentor, Jim Miner, when he asked me, "Have you ever thought of doing 'this' for a career?" As an undergraduate Psychology major, I knew that graduate school was in my future, I just hadn't figured out in what as of yet. In all the busyness of being a student leader, having a career in student affairs had never crossed my mind. I'd have to say that conversation was my "aha" moment. I have both Jim Miner and Cathy Onion, from Western Illinois University, to thank who were instrumental in my decision to pursue a career in this field. What I love best about working in this field stems from what was provided to me as an undergraduate. The challenge, guidance, support and encouragement to work hard to become the best version of myself that my mentors provided for me continues to serve as the example I try to emulate every day in my work with students. My "why"of what keeps me motivated and find rewards for the role I play as a student affairs educator comes primarily from helping students seek and find opportunities to apply and integrate their academic learning in purposeful and meaningful ways. Helping students use their education to prepare for their careers and lives as citizens to help address the problems facing our communities, country, and our world is what keeps me grounded in knowing that our work as student affairs educators is essential in the realm of higher education. I am thankful to have a profession that while has its challenges at times, is work that I feel like I was called to do. Through working in partnership with my higher education colleagues, my "why" is to assist students in finding their path and purpose as well!
Shari Rich, Eureka College
For me, the greatest challenge of being a first-generation college student and second-generation immigrant was returning home after college with all of this deconstructive knowledge and not being able to share it with my parents in a way that reflected and gave context to their own lived experiences. Instead of recognizing me as a politicized individual with my own thoughts and opinions, I was often ignored and shut down. This was a microcosm of what I have learned about marginalized groups being silenced and dehumanized in systems where their lives do not seem to matter. With that, I hope to be the student affairs professional that underrepresented and underserved students can have critical dialogue with, and not only be heard, but actually feel like someone cares and believes in their resiliency and potential. Hopefully, my presence and attentiveness in higher education will nurture them into the next generation of scholars, leaders, and parents that will take the time to listen to and affirm their own children in the future.
Juliana Wong, University of Maryland-College Park
As part of the ACPA #WhatsyourWHY campaign, I’ve been thinking about why I am here and why I recently moved into an entirely new region of the United States. The answer is really, to help as many people as I can. I was born and raised in a small Massachusetts town, with a dream of getting my education and being the best person I could be. During my time at my undergraduate institution, the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, I discovered being the best person I could be wasn’t enough. As an RA I began to understand my place in helping others-helping students be the best they can be. Now as a Resident Director at Radford University in Radford, Virginia, I am working with my RAs to help them not only help their residents find their home here and find their path- but I also work one on one to ensure that my RAs are getting all the help and resources they need to be successful. My initial reason for going into my Higher Education in Student Affairs program at Salem State University in Salem, MA, came through the aftermath of the Boston Marathon Bombing. In dealing with the unknown, with the bombing suspect being a sophomore at Umass Dartmouth, I was able to work hand in hand with the Resident Directors as we came to terms with what had happened at the Marathon and what could have happened at Umass Dartmouth. In being on pace with those professionals, I knew I wanted to have a career working in higher education. My “why” is always evolving and strengthening, but it has consistently worked to help me understand how I can best help myself and help others.
Jillian Webber, Radford University
I do student affairs because I like to bring out goodness in people. I believe higher education should do more of that - we often feel the pressure to provide students who have corporate sensibilities; I like to produce students who are intrinsically good. That is my why.
For African Americans, the pursuit for a higher education has not always been easy. In fact, there was a time when an educational African American was a mere dream, a tinkle in a young person’s eye. However, as an African American college graduate, pursuing a doctoral degree, it is my purpose in life to ensure that all people are able to enroll and obtain a college degree. As a student affairs professional, I take pride in helping every student reach their highest potential through mentorship and opportunities to apply skills and knowledge from the classroom both on and off campus. As a first generation college graduate, I am committed to providing individuals, regardless of their background, the platform and inspiration to attend and receive a college degree. I work for the students and I with the students. It is a honor to be trusted with the lives and minds of our future leaders. I learn from them as much as they learn from me and other colleagues. It is my desire to leave a legacy of servitude in the field of student affairs, because when no one else will, student can bet that Ms. Dixon will!
Kellie Dixon, North Carolina A&T State University
I am the mother of two children with disabilities. Thirty years ago, it was not easy to navigate the path for help, guidance, or find any sympathy to discover what my children had, what the diagnosis was, or what could be done. Even when we finally receive such information, finding a placement for their education and getting various doctors and educators to see them as 'worthy' of and education was insufferable for me, the parent, and difficult for my children. I finally found the guidance I needed. On Saturdays for three years, each of my children had one on one coaches for social and play activities, while I was enrolled in the parent's class where we were treated with respect as parents. We were guided through the special ed systems with special speakers, knowledgeable guides, and learned strategies of how to navigate through a well entangled or even hidden system. It changed our lives. Along the difficult road of judgements and prejudices, those clinic days helps to sustain my resolve to endure what had to be endured to get the best help for my children. One eventually died of her incurable genetic disease, while the other became an honor student, and college graduate with a job. I learned to treasure those people who showed patience, kindness and understanding of our family situation. They offered solutions not judgment, all the while sympathizing with life's day to day struggles. I was also encouraged to take time for myself as a caregiver, and not feel guilty. When all was said and done, I wanted to give back to that community which had sustained and supported our family through many fiery trials. So, when I saw an advertisement to be a reader/scribe, I came and interviewed. I was hired by a man who saw beyond my gray hair, and hired me. I sat through many types of courses and happily assisted student with many kinds of disabilities. I later became a retention specialist. I had the opportunity to guide and nurture many students with disabilities, especially when some of their problems were challenging. I was also able to listen and console desperate parents who did not have any idea of what how to navigate to some resources that might be open to them. I could offer encouragement to both student and parent who wondered if finding a job was even possible. I cannot say what all the outcomes were for those who came into my office, but I could offer a listening ear to those who did, and share my own experiences. We could travel the road together.
Frances Notley, Prince George's Community College
"I left the 'most Magical place on Earth' to pursue a career in student affairs, and I did that without regret so that I may positively contribute to individual student development. Observing students demonstrating critical thinking and problem solving abilities while also becoming stronger communicators is extremely rewarding, and I know without a doubt that my contributions to their experience in the residence halls played a role in their journey. It may take years after a student graduates for them to recognize how formative their college experience was, but it always happens."
Daniel DelHollander, American University
During the first semester my freshman at Western Illinois University, I went to class and back to my residence hall every day. Academically I was doing well, but I missed my home (Chicago). I did not join my residence hall council or become a floor president. I had an excellent roommate and we did things on campus whenever possible. I remember calling one of my parents and communicated that I wanted to transfer to another 4-year university closer to home. After my conversation with family and doing some self-reflection, I decided to finish the year at my undergraduate institution. As I entered the second half of my freshman year, I got involved in two Latinx-based student organizations. The preceding years presented me with involvement opportunities within the Student Government Association and Residence Life. As I became more involved on my campus, I forgot about my homesickness and the notion of transferring to another institution. My four years as an involved undergraduate student enabled me to interact with a variety of student affairs professionals. In my senior year, I discovered the field of student affairs/higher education. As graduation drew closer, I opted to take full-time employment in a non-profit organization in Chicago. During my first years as a professional, I volunteered for my Greek fraternity (Lambda Theta Phi) and conducted student leadership trainings. In addition, I assisted with the mentorship of undergraduate chapters and membership development. Since I conducted student development work as a volunteer, I quickly realized that I wanted to work with students on a full-time basis. I saw that there was an opportunity to impact college students in a positive manner. I remembered that my persistence and retention, as an undergraduate student, was greatly influenced by my development as a student leader. Therefore, I want to replicate a positive and developmental collegiate experience to students. In addition to realizing my new professional direction, I enrolled in a graduate student affairs program at Ball State University. Four years after being in the student affairs profession, I’m reminded every day when I work with students on the “Why” I work in Student Affairs.
Jose Marroquin, National Louis University
I reflected on this question for some time before responding. After almost 20 years in the field, it’s an important question to consider… and then reconsider. I appreciate ACPA’s call for us to remember why we do our work with students, colleagues, and for our ever-changing climate of higher education. While my “why” may focus in various areas, I believe my north star stays constant – to empower others. In today’s campus climate, I’m called to reimagine what this means. I have to consider my dominant and subordinated lenses. I’m called to remember differences in our campus make ups – different generations, veteran statuses, abilities, and the notion of the traditional college student. I have to check myself on how to empower others without places undue pressure to perform, act in certain ways, or otherwise place an categorization of what that even means. I believe it’s in these learning edges that we continue to grow as administrators for higher education. So as much as helping others feel empowered in their own skin and in our changing society, the growth also happens internally. I believe it’s in that symbiosis that keeps me engaged, curious, and asking questions to help individuals grow and, in turn, help our communities flourish.
Bernard Liang, Seattle University
For me, the field of Student Affairs is not just a profession or a vocation; it's a purpose infused with pluralism.
Kim Irland, North Country Community College
I believe in the power of higher education to transform lives. A career in student affairs gives me the opportunity to be part of this time of growth, development, and transformation in students’ lives. It truly is work that matters.
Deborah Taub, SUNY-Binghamton
It can be difficult to pin down "why" exactly we do anything. Almost all student affairs professionals will name the students as the reason they do what they do. We are here to serve the students, to facilitate growth, to foster learning, to support students as they pursue their passions. But student affairs is more than just a profession to me. For me, working in student affairs means using all of my talents to do good for others. It means empowering others to become their best selves, while also being inspired to never stop chasing after my best self.
Amelia Durkee, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville
I am in Student Affairs because I believe and enjoy helping students develop holistically. Student Affairs should be designed to help students enhance and make connections between the classroom and the out-of-classroom experience.
Jeff Coats, Eureka College
I simply love working with college students! From the moment I started working in Residence Life, I developed a great passion for working with college students, specifically first year students. When August rolls around each year, it means working nearly every hour of the day, but being around the RA's for training week always excites me and re-energizes me for another academic year. Seeing the impact that the Resident Advisors make on their residents, especially their first year students, always touches my heart and reminds me why I do what I do.
Lisa Allen, Eureka College
My “why” is the joy I feel after completing a long day of Orientation and realize the impact I have on incoming students as well as the students who serve as Orientation Leaders. Nothing fills my love bucket more than seeing students who were shy and reserved at orientation come out of their shell during Welcome Week to make new friends, join clubs, and love college life. Then when those same students apply to be Orientation Leaders the next summer, it truly is a wonderful feeling to watch them grow into campus leaders and help the next incoming class.
Abigail Bradley, Eureka College
Because it is not about the destination, but only what is in your headlights.
Abby Blumberg, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville
I am passionate and dedicated to Student Affairs because I am passionate about being there for students, and challenging and supporting them in their progress towards graduation, becoming scholars and engaged and inclusive citizens of the 21st century world, and their future success.
William Hsu, SUNY-Binghamton
I went into Higher Education because I had a great experience in undergrad. I want to help future generations: • Find their niche • Make connections • Create opportunities • Discover how to succeed academically • Navigate their experience in college • Write their own narrative • Challenge themselves to grow • Learn about themselves • Develop into the best version of themselves I have been influenced by colleagues, students and experiences. I want to pay it forward and help others create their journey within Higher Education. I love my career because I see that I make a difference with students, just as they make a difference in my life.
Alison Ketterer, Lone Star College-Cyfair
When we look into a warehouse full of supplies, we recognize the vast amount of goods to eventually be sold. The products are all similar with no real value to the producers other than monetary. In Student Affairs, our warehouse is an institution with human beings, all with their own unique value- not just a number on the shelf. Our warehouse is full of individuals with personalities, emotions, needs, potentials and stories. Each person is loved and has loved. Each person will do something and be someone one day; my job is to make that happen. I am in Student Affairs because I understand the value of every person that steps foot on a campus and the difference they will make in this world. They need to be challenged and tested, developed and supported. As a student, I watched those before me passionately make a difference in the lives of so many. They have seen everything-- frustration, excitement, prosperity, integrity, confidence, oppression, success, and failure. Most importantly, they are ready to embrace difficult situations and stand beside students when everyone else walks away. There are a few inspirational individuals that powerfully impacted my future, giving me a reason to become a student affairs professional. My purpose is to encourage students to discover theirs - to uncover their “why.”
Chelsey Pitcher, SUNY-Binghamton
Yettieve Marquez-Santana, New York University
I am currently a first year SA graduate student at Indiana State University. I am pursuing a career in Student Affairs because of the incredible personal and professional transformation I went through during my time in undergrad with the help of a supportive mentor. I want to work with students to help them discover themselves while at college and find their true passions.
Katie Francisco, Indiana State University
Why: A Haiku People amuse me. I mean – what are they doing??! I just laugh and laugh. Why: Another Haiku Well, so… actually I only laugh WITH people. Not AT them. Out loud. Why: One More Haiku And by laugh, I mean – When they are sad, I don’t laugh. Just the other times.
Michelle Boettcher, Clemson University
My parents never went to college. In fact, my father never even graduated high school. Yet there was no doubt in my mind when I graduated high school that college was my next step. I was very lucky to receive Georgia’s HOPE scholarship and fortunate (and unfortunate) enough to receive the full amount of PELL grant for my college tuition and fees. (It’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it?) If it wasn’t for the funding I received, I probably would not have been able to attend college, however, with financial aid I was able to graduate debt-free. During my undergraduate career, I never lived on campus and I worked two part-time jobs, but it was important to me to get the well-rounded college experience I wanted. In my journey to become well-rounded, I fell into a role as a student orientation leader. For my entire summer, I dedicated most of my time to welcoming new students to the university that was helping me to become who I wanted to be. I was able to make connections with those students and eventually mentored several of them through to their own graduations (after I had already graduated). It was so rewarding to help those students to start to discover their own selves. I began to realize that I could do that as a career. I could be paid for this passion so great to help others learn and become who they wanted to be! It became less of an a job, less of an extracurricular activity and more of a passion. In my eyes, college is the start of the rest of your life – whether you’re 18 or 81. Your education and your experiences are things that no one can ever take from you, and if I could have just one tiny bit of influence in shaping someone’s life, there was nothing else I would ever want to do. When I graduated, I tried and tried and tried to get back into a higher education role, and finally did two years later. I currently work as a Transfer Evaluation Coordinator in the Registrar’s Office at the University of West Georgia. In that role, I don’t see students very often, but I definitely get to help them to succeed. I’m also currently working towards my Master’s of Education in Counseling with a focus on College Student Affairs. Once I’ve earned that degree, I will be armed with the tools needed to more successfully coach and advise students. I do this, and will continue doing this, because I can change lives. I can be one of the many people who can help nudge a student in the right direction. I can be that person that helps a student decide whether or not to continue with their education. I can truly make a difference, and really, what is more rewarding than that?
Kayla Whitter, University of West Georgia
My why is the opportunity to make an impact on individuals who are the future.
Rebecca Bahe, North Dakota State University
The first time I got the idea to go into Student Affairs, I was starting my senior year of college. I was an assistant hall director, editor of the yearbook, newspaper columnist, student government senator, and English major. I had left the theatre department to go into something more stable (writing) and after a great internship at a regional newspaper, decided that I wasn’t going to make that my career either. Talking with the Dean of Students about my hopelessness of embarking on a senior year with no plan, he decided to tell me about how he ended up in the world of student affairs. I decided to give graduate school a shot. I liked school and was good at it, but I had only applied to one school when searching for a college, so I didn’t know where to start. I understood that I had to take the GRE, so I went to sign up at the Career Services Center. The administrative assistant informed me that I just missed the local one, and would have to drive an hour to take the course in a month. Or…I could take the Miller Analogies Test, which many graduate programs accepted, and there was one in a week. She assured me that as an English major, the test would be easy for me, so I scheduled it, and started looking at graduate programs that would accept that test score. I settled on two graduate programs to apply to (double what I did for my undergrad search) and sent my packets and scores out to Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania (where my mentor, the Dean of Students had gone) and Miami University of Ohio. I traveled to both campuses for interviews, and accepted a scholarship to The Rock, which would become my second alma mater. Reflecting back on this experience has brought two things to mind: - The first is, while I am proud of my education, I seem to adjust my institutional pride to be in line with the school I work for. My wardrobe and my mindset has gone from purple/white at Niagara University, to green/white at The Rock, to green/gold at SUNY Brockport, to my current colors of blue/gold at the University of Delaware. School pride is at its strongest when you are surrounded by the students and their culture every day. So to be in student affairs, your loyalties should be malleable, because otherwise, you’ll take some sass from your colleagues who are proud alums of your current institution. - The second is, after ten years of working as a professional, my WHY has evolved too. I started out as a scared senior unsure of what path to take and went into student affairs because I was good at it, and didn’t really want to leave college. Once I started working, I found that mentoring students (especially those with an interest in student affairs) was what kept me interested in my job. Fast forward 10 years. Many days I leave late at night, exhausted, unappreciated and underpaid. But then I go in the next day and see a thank you card from a student who I drove to a conference. Or a canvas from students who went to a sponsored Paint Nite event. Or a visit from an alum I mentored while a student. It’s these things that keep me in the field and energize me for long days ahead.
Sarah Georger, University of Delaware
Why did I start on a path toward student affairs? Because of wonderful role models and mentors at my undergraduate institution. I had awesome administrators showing me that I could make a difference for others like they had made a difference for me. Why have I stayed in higher education? I believe that everyone deserves to seek further education in environments where they can be supported and mentored, an environment in which they can thrive and not just survive. It’s my mission to help institutions of higher education become inclusive environments in which all faculty, staff, and students can succeed.
Stacey Garrett, Clemson University
My “why” is life-long learning. Our society, country, and world, will benefit from as many of its citizens as possible willing to be learners. Learning is how injustices are fought for. Learning is how imbalanced systems are discovered and righted. Learning is how we become more compassionate and caring neighbors. All of life is learning, and humanity is better off for it.
Tim Ferret, Messiah College
I always wanted to be a teacher. I found a way to teach and influence without being in front of a traditional classroom. I was mentored and loved being with all the positive energy and the "SA Family." The atmosphere and the people are what keep me in the profession. You can't find it anywhere else.
Anna Borgerding, University of Maryland-Baltimore
I can think of no better way to make a contribution to the future...
Sue Oatey, Concordia College
• Mentorship (both giving and receiving)-I wouldn’t be in the field without strong mentorship from supervisors I’ve had in the past who thought I could and should do this work, and I feel a call to do the same for students who I know could make a difference in our field • Students-I also wouldn’t be here without getting the opportunity to work with amazing students. No two days of my job are alike, and that’s mostly based on the students I come into contact with on any particular day. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else! • Passion for social justice-I’ve had no other job where I was able to learn and grow in the areas of social justice as much as in our field. It’s encouraged in our work, we need it to be able to do our work, and we are helping create better members of society through our work.
Erin Peltzman, University of California-Davis
My why is... our students. The energy they have. The passion they have. The willingness they have to learn. Their desire to grow and develop. Our students are so special and unique, and to have the opportunity to work with people at such an exciting time in their lives is nothing short of amazing. As cliche as it sounds, I couldn't imagine working anywhere else. No day is the same - we have our challenges and struggles, but we always grow and develop from them, both us and our students.
Amy Zieziula, Broome Community College
Every day when I wake up I have the opportunity to change students lives. If a student has failed something three times, I have the opportunity to help them try something one more time. Having the chance to work with students makes me want to get out of bed every morning. They give me purpose to push past my feelings and pursue my purpose.
Kaitlyn Thruston, Appalachian State University
Why not? Who am I to say who is worthy of my why. I will serve all students, that's why.
Jennifer Azevedo, University of Delaware
As a professional in the field of Student Affairs since 2008, from serving as Residence Director to my current role as the Director of the Damietta Cross-Cultural Center at Siena College, my WHY has always been the students. They give me the motivation to be more effective in my position, to challenge myself to be a better professional and to continue to grow with them. As you can imagine, sometimes working as a diversity officer is not easy. We wear many hats. I am passionate about educating students and community members about diversity and social justice issues. Additionally, I seek to empower them to serve as allies in order to break down systematic oppression and to advocate for those who are marginalized. Through diversity education, I am able to build meaningful relationships with students across diverse backgrounds. I continue doing what I do because I have witnessed the transformation that students experience. Furthermore, I know, at the end of the day, we make a difference, and I know the students will apply what they learn to make our society a better place.
Christa Grant, Siena College
It is an honor and privilege to be educator. When a student reflects back on their college experience, with all of its ups and downs, it is humbling to be remembered as part of their growth.
Julie Ohotnicky, Smith College
Interaction with the students. The days are never the same and you can learn/find out so much about our student body. There is never a dull day.
Meghan Bruce-Bojo, University of Maryland-Baltimore
Stepping on to a college campus which was five times the size of the population I grew up in was an intimidating experience. When I attended New Student Orientation for incoming students of Indiana State University unfamiliar faces and friendly welcoming gestures introduced me to the university and many prominent faces of the Division of Student Affairs. The individuals who made up the Division of Student Affairs were so friendly and welcoming that I knew this was a field I was interested in at an early point in my collegiate career. The unknown impact of what my field of study would have on my future employment, living, and financial arrangements I began to ask questions to anyone who would listen. Unknowing that the people I met my first day on campus would go on to play an integral role in my life as mentors was surprising. I continually asked what skills do you need to thrive in this field and why are you interested in higher education was a question that came up at every meeting and then came reflection of if I had the skills and the attitude to survive in higher education, if I did not have the skills how could I learn these skills while continuing to develop the skills I had. I am currently working as the Coordinator of Orientation and Recreation Programs for the University of South Florida Sarasota - Manatee where I can assist in the holistic development of the student and their transition to the university. From orientation to ensuring wellness; physical,mental, and emotional by overseeing the fitness center and recreational programs I am committed to the development of students and seeing them succeed. I still have close ties with my undergraduate Fraternity where I mentor many of the members of the organization and serve as an advisor.
Bart Stucker, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee
Change. Like the leaves falling off the trees each autumn season, change is inevitable and a part of the circle of life. By many change is viewed as a challenge but by student affairs professionals change is viewed as an opportunity. A chance for us to leave our mark on future generations and do our part in creating a world we want to see. Therefore, when asked “What is my why?” I can answer in one word. Change.
Sean Spellman, Salem State University
My why is because I have the ability to affect the future of humanity through the contact that I have with the next generation. To watch them blossom into critically competent individuals and assist in the undoing of negative impacts that have them bound is dually liberating. To slowly watch the rebirth of a nation in the eyes of those who will come after me is why I chose this field.
Reba Fuggs, Texas State University
I must simply reply...WHY not?
Amanda Taylor-Rodriguez, Georgia Piedmont Technical College
STUDENT AFFAIRS: “I’M IN IT FOR THE OUTCOMES – NOT THE INCOME” Loyalty. Advocacy. Lifelong Learning. Mentorship. Creativity. These five core values represent who I am as a student affairs professional. Coupled with having the courage to act on them on behalf of the greater good for all students – I’m a #SAPro because I’m committed to ensuring pathways of opportunity for all students, and empowering them to become the best versions of themselves.
Laura Saavedra, Bowliing Green State University
During my undergraduate career, I became very involved in student life. I worked in two different offices in my institution's student union building, was the leader of a student organization, and worked with New Student Programs each summer. Student Affairs was my life in undergrad. When I graduated, I knew that I would not be mentally prepared or able to start graduate school right away. I worked in various fields for a couple of years before the field of Student Affairs started calling my name to return. Graduate school has been difficult, busy, stressful, and so worth it in countless ways. While I am anxious for the Spring to arrive, as I'll need to send out applications and head to interviews to see where in this field I can find my place, I am thrilled to tell others that I have my Master's and am ready to stay in Student Affairs for years to come.
Emma Steincross, University of Saint Thomas
What’s My Why? Darrell E. King, Ph.D. An understanding of the mission and values of the profession of Student Affairs is critical for me to be successful in this field. I have been blessed to have the best of both worlds as both an Academic Affairs professional and Student Affairs professional and this has allowed me to vividly answer the question of “What’s my Why? I am an integral part of a profession whose job it is to inspire a love for academic success and student development while being able to motivate a group of future scholars. Darwin once stated, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” I would add that in order to be responsive to change, one must be prepared and equipped with prior knowledge and experiences that can be adapted for the new climate and environment on the horizon. My why began as a first generation college student from Detroit Michigan, the ninth of ten children who had no knowledge of what it would take to prepare and successfully complete a four year college degree. In my senior year of high school working with a guidance counselor whom I had never worked with before, who was an expert in getting students prepared and accepted and funded to go to college made the difference in my life. My fear of success and procrastination almost cost me my future. It wasn’t until Ms. J. called my widowed dad to tell him that I was screwing up royally and I was about to waste my talents, that I realized someone cared for me and my future more than I did. Because of what Ms. J did for me in high school to get me prepared and funded for college is why I do what I do. My why is for Ms. J. My next why is because of Ms. Singleton, a counselor at my small sized college who saw me; a scared freshman commuter student who had to live 40 minutes away from campus with virtual strangers because I did not know that I needed to send in a housing deposit to secure my spot in the dorms. I just thought I just needed to show up on campus with my mismatched luggage and they would have a room waiting for me when I got there. Never mind that I moved almost 3 hours from Detroit to the west side of the state to Grand Rapids, MI and still had to take the bus 40 minutes each way. You can believe that after 3 weeks I was on the verge of dropping out and taking my 16 ACT back to the D, as we called Detroit. I believed I could go back to my old job at McDonalds and eventually work my way up to Manager. So there I was with work study, no job, and very little hope sitting outside of the counseling center, when I decided to go in to talk to somebody about quitting school. My why is because of Ms. Singleton who not only convinced me to stay in school that day, but gave me a job working in the counseling center which I held my entire four years of college. Incidentally, she became my Grand Valley “mom” and 20 years later she was at my graduate school graduation, not for me but coincidently she saw me graduate with my Ph.D. Finally, my last why is my first student affairs job after I graduated with my undergraduate degree. I started as a Minority Admissions Counselor for Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan. I got to recruit diverse students into college but I could not just hand them over. I got to be their big brother, their advisor and their friend and that sparked my interest in getting a master’s degree in student affairs. Changing lives and seeing students that I recruited graduate was the most fulfilling experience for me that I continue to have on a daily basis. Currently I am the Sr. Associate Director for Multicultural Business Programs in The Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Grand Valley State University in Michigan. I also earned a Master of Arts degree in College Student Personnel and Counseling from Eastern Michigan University. I also earned a PhD in Agriculture and Extension Education with an emphasis on cultural diversity programs and career development from Michigan State University. Having spent my entire career working with programs that focus on Diversity and multiculturalism, I feel that I am uniquely qualified to share my story of What’s my Why.
Darrell King, Michigan State University
Supporting the education of others allows me to see the universe opening before another generation of eyes.
Heather Levien, University of California-Berkeley
My why for working in higher education is unlocking opportunities and resources for students to achieve their academic goals and dreams.
Jennifer Thach, Miami University of Ohio
"Encouraging students to make a difference by creating a fire that refuses to go out."
Jason Guernsey, SUNY-Potsdam
My WHY has been watching my students growing from their first day on campus until the day they receive their diplomas (and beyond).
Cory Shapiro, Arizona State University
To empower students, faculty, and staff in higher education through teaching and trainings to be introspective, using reflection, connection, creativity, and play to discover their unique purpose and meaning, become self-experts, and create engaging experiences to become the best version of themselves.
Bill Johnson, University of North Carolina-Greensboro
As someone who started college at 21 and as a single parent of a newborn, I got into Higher Ed - and specifically Undergraduate Research - in order to connect students of diverse backgrounds with opportunities to take control of their education and make it into an experience that benefits them in the long run. The best times are when I get first gen students in my office!
Jillian Rogero, George Mason University
“I love the gift of being able to nurture the potential in students, staff, partnerships, and myself.” #ACPAWhatsYourWHY #SAPro #SACareers
Hilary Lichterman, University of South Carolina
My "Why" is to provide students the opportunity to realize that their differences and uniqueness make them who they are, and show them how much potential those differences provide them.
Brittany Murtaugh, University of Rhode Island
I entered and have remained in the profession of college student affairs because of my belief that holistic, diverse higher education environments can transform both individuals and communities.
Katie Branch, University of Rhode Island
My "why" as a Higher Education Professional is to make an impact on every single student I meet. I want every student I supervise and come in to contact with to be more confident when they leave me. I want to help students find their purpose in life and to understand that going to class and not being involved is going to lead them to an unsatisfying college career. College is truly what you make it! The opportunities are endless! I want to inspire others to become leaders, to really push the people around them to be the best they can be. Why do I want to do all of this? Because I truly want everyone to be successful and make an impact in this world. It truly starts with us!
Megan Vermillion, University of Akron
My Why: I am an advocate for students who want to be better than where they come from. I am an educator who exposes students to new experiences and ideas that creates a lens on which they view the world differently
Syntina Nesbitt, University of South Carolina
Giving back. My mentor (a SA practitioner) made all the difference for me in college. His influence affected me on my every level (intellectually, professionally, personally, and spiritually) and enriched my college experience a hundred fold. He is still present in my life. Because of him, I found my calling - to work with and on behalf of college students.
Dana Malone, Independent Scholar
I chose Student Affairs because I love demystifying career counseling to students. In my undergraduate Career Peer Mentor role, I was able to meet with students in their dormitory and provide career-based workshops, resume reviews, and trained advice. Helping students come from no materials to a summer internship in the span of an academic year is a big feat and a little tiring but definitely worth it, especially since career development is a lot more of a personal investment than most realize. I'm glad to help students realize their talent and skills and help them further develop!
Samantha Walker, Slippery Rock University
My “Why?” for Student Affairs comes from the transformative undergraduate experience I had through my involvement at DePaul University. I had achieved strong grades in high school, had been in some clubs and the National Honors Society, but had never taken a leadership role nor been interested in doing so. The only thing I might have been considered to be have been a leader of was my small cadre of friends. The recruitment committee of Phi Kappa Psi changed that. They were the first people to ever tell me that they thought that I was a leader (perhaps because they needed me to bump up the chapter GPA). That belief, that trust, moved me – and still does. I bought all in, and took numerous leadership roles across my remaining three years. By graduation, the young man from Chesterton, Indiana who had never been a leader in his life had served as president of the largest men’s organization (the Interfraternity Council) at the largest Catholic university in the nation. My “Why?” is the power of involvement. I want to be the person – or guide a student to the person – who will help students achieve their full potential.
Drew Hopson, University of West Georgia
I wanted to share my "What's Your Why?" The first thought that came to mind was my two children. I found myself becoming more passionate about Student Affairs once I became a Mother. My children remind me to be patient with parents who call because a part of me understands their fears, frustration, and at times stubbornness. My children remind me of what it means to be innocent, curious, and sometimes sneaky which are common components to a students' story in a conduct meeting. My children remind me to be brave and ask questions because that is what is needed to be successful in college. We must teach our students to be brave, be resourceful and also ask "Why?". My children are children of color and I think about the day when I will need to tell them about systematic oppression, and racism, and all the isms out there when they just want to be themselves and enjoy the world like everyone else. My why is my children because I hope that someday a Student Affairs Professional will be patient with me when I call. One day my children will be listened to, cared for, challenged, and provided with resources for success. My why is about paying it forward. There is a lot of trust when it comes to letting someone care for your child and I take that seriously. My why is the responsibility I have only come to fully acknowledge and accept: what it means to take care of another human being.
Crystal White, University of California-Berkeley
“My WHY entails making a positive impact on my campus community by reaching out to all students and offering them resources they need to be successful, both academically and socially. I strive to be accessible to students whether it’s via social media that is managed by our office, emails, phone calls, etc. and respond within 24 hours of their inquiries to ensure they are receiving the help they need. As a Student Success Coach, I want to be seen as approachable by students and as an ally when they are in need.”
Jordan Thompson, Salem State University
Because just being here to listen to my students is how I remind them that someone cares.
Rachel Armstrong, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
I believe that students should be provided a college environment that makes them feel comfortable and connected. As higher educator administrators, we must foster an atmosphere that allows students to form a connection to campus and feel a sense of belonging. It is our responsibility to provide a student-centered campus that both challenges and supports students. By creating positive interactions and experiences, students will learn and develop as action-oriented citizens, scholars, and leaders in a diverse and ever-changing society. It's on us to help students discover their passion(s), engage, and connect to campus.
Heather Horowitz, Arcadia University
I entered the Student Affairs career in my late 30s/early 40s. I made a career change to pursue work that fulfilled a lifelong passion: Helping college students, young and old, achieve their goal of a college education. Access to college is important to me as a Black woman in the United States of America. My college experience was made possible because there were people who mentored and encouraged me through high school and undergraduate studies to stay the course. They also made sure that I knew where to go and who to see to resolve issues. I wanted to do the same thing for college students, especially those who looked like me. In the process, I have completely enjoyed working with every student and have had the opportunity to learn so much about different cultures from international students. I have focused most of my career in academic advising and graduate student services, so I am able to work with smaller populations of students within specific degree programs. The Thank You notes, gifts, and greetings that I have received from students are genuine and provide continual motivation for my work. It has been the best career move.