On Monday, I start graduate classes. Consider me anxious.
Yesterday was University Day at my school. I went over with the rest of my office’s staff to listen to several speakers, enter to win sweet prizes, eat a delicious lunch, and peruse the various informational booths.
I had the chance to listen to Dr. Jillian Kinzie speak about student engagement. During her speech, she went over several key points I anticipate to learn more about as a student affairs grad. However, what struck a chord with me was the fact that several of the points were observations I had casually made over the summer and as I’ve tried to narrow down my ideas for a specialization.
A few people have recently heard that I wish to work in international programs and multicultural outreach. Ideally, I want to work in a role that encompasses both, as I personally noticed that programs like study abroad don’t seem entirely accessible to all students– read: most of my friends that studied abroad were white. Like I said, it was a casual observation that made me go, “Hmm…”
Dr. Kinzie mentioned that populations like first-generation students and students of color, among other groups, were least likely to engage in high-impact learning practices, which include things like class discussions, undergraduate research, and study abroad. (Not an exhaustive list, by any means). As she said that, I felt like jumping up and saying, “I knew it!” Now, of course, I’ll have to delve into how to change this trend– something I feel as if I’m capable of tackling.
Beyond that, Dr. Kinzie said that college is a time of transformation, and that as professionals, we can encourage students to develop and think differently by placing them in situations which are “disorienting.” As she gave a few examples– one as simple as living with a roommate, or moving to a new city– what I had experienced, what I have known without being able to put into words, came full circle.
As a first-year student, I was restless because my old ways of thinking were continually challenged by new experiences. Luckily, I let these experiences shape me though, and I allowed myself to see new perspectives, see the world in different ways. College did transform me– I say it gave me the tools to ask the right questions, not that it gave me the answers to life.
Embarking on this student affairs journey is exciting, and yesterday gave me a glimpse into the work that I could potentially be doing. I, too, can help identify and provide opportunities for students to think in new ways, and as such, grow into a new level of consciousness.