Part of the whole
Student Affairs featuring Higher Education or Higher Education featuring Student Affairs?
I’ve had so many thoughts about my profession, I guess you could say I’m sitting in Chickering’s 6th vector: developing purpose and I’ve been stuck here for awhile.
When I initially researched graduate school programs, I really didn’t know about the various differences of programs’ curriculums and , at the time, didn’t care if they were researched based or practitioner based. My list was based on region, knowing that I didn’t want to go too far away from my family and I ended up attending George Washington University for my Master’s in Higher Education Administration with a concentration in Student Affairs Administration. I took advantage of anything I could and learned as much as I could, not knowing where in the world of the higher ed world I would find myself in after I graduated. Sure enough – my trajectory has been that of a “traditional” residence life professional thus far, but I am hoping to eventually reach beyond this area and into the greater world of higher education administration. I haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet.
As I sit here, stuck in the 6th vector, I know that I am a part of a whole. I work in residence life, which is a functional area of the larger student affairs, which is a larger part of the whole of the university system. But, as I tweeted out yesterday, are we as professionals/educators/administrators/practitioners able to think in the broader scope of higher education administration? Do we even recognize that we are part of the whole? Do we see ourselves evolving to think broader in our roles? Depending on the level at which you find yourself (entry-mid-senior)- are you even given the opportunity to critically think about these things?
I would encourage all of my colleagues who identify as being part of the student affairs world to think broadly about the work that we do and how we are part of the whole. I acknowledge that many of us are fighting the good fight to “prove” ourselves in the academe and I think it starts with the contributions that we make every day on our campuses and to the greater good of the profession. If opportunity exists on your campus, I think sitting on a university-wide committee is a great place to broaden your view. Some food for thought from my former supervisor, Ron Campbell who said ” In order to think outside the box, you must understand what goes on inside the box first”.
PS. thank you to all the twitter folks who contributed to the conversation, it was great to see such engaging conversation.