By Erica Estes, Coordinator of Member Services at James Madison University

Number of days in the term: 365. Number of members on this unforgettable Student Leadership Team: 7. Number of conference calls: 30. Number of times Jordan took an elbow to the eye for the team: 1. Number of memes shared via group messages: 27. Number of roller coaster rides taken at Disney: 16. Number of international countries represented at the Annual Conference: 3. Number of Charlie Sheen jokes made: 76. Number of times we shared Mama Vic’s starfish story with others: 42. Number of breakdance battles against Disney characters: 1. Number of Mentor Program pairs matched: 180. Number of times Parker will eat a Caesar salad again: 0. Number of memories made: 20,463.

Number of Strengthquest discussions: 31. Number of Horace Moody awards presented: 6. Number of times Ashford changed his name in our Groupme: 7. Number of meals shared: 19. Number of NIRSA pillars that we advocate for: 4. Number of students taken to the Take a Student to Lunch–Presidential Edition: 15. Number of races down the waterslide: 4. Number of NIRSA SLT Social Media Challenge winners: 2. Number of Matrix towels given out: 50. Number of professionals that have influenced this team more than Mama Vic: 0. Number of times Leigha had coffee with every meal: 1,983. Number of frantic emails requesting help from NIRSA HQ: 147. Number of Member Network work teams: 4. Number of surveys disseminated: 2. Number of laughs shared: 10,386.

Number of times Jenny ate all the hummus at the conference social: every time. Number of panelists that assisted with the educational session Candid Conversations–Graduate Assistant Edition: 6. Number of giving levels offered in the Give to Get Foundation Campaign: 2. Number of students who attended the NIRSA Annual Conference: 883. Number of times Megan’s flight departure time got changed on the way to Florida: 3. Number of laughs shared: infinite. Number of impacts made on the students of the Association: countless. Number of NIRSA years that this SLT will forever cherish: 1.

My year with the 2015-2016 NIRSA Student Leadership Team was an unforgettable journey for which I thank the Lord each and every day. The aforementioned facts, figures, and experiences cannot completely encapsulate our term. It was really the intangibles of the past leadership year that made it so magical. It was incredible to see the authentic relationships that were established as a result of the work done by the Student Leadership Team, NIRSA student members, and NIRSA professionals. I was beyond blessed to travel to several regional events and state workshops. These opportunities allowed me to witness firsthand the efforts of our engaged membership to create developmental experiences for students and professionals alike. It became ever clear to me that NIRSA does not function without the many students and professionals who willingly volunteer their time for a cause much greater than themselves. The selfless service our Association’s members perform is without equal.

Similarly, our focus as the 2015–2016 Student Leadership Team was on the students within the Association who willingly allowed us to represent them on a national scale. Our goal was articulated well by Brad Lomenick who says, “Leverage your power and influence for others’ gain. Once you have a platform, you are responsible to put others on it. Remember: it’s not about you.” It is my hope that our dedication and leadership has reflected that mission throughout the year.

Our efforts were supported and encouraged by our biggest advocate: Vicki Highstreet, otherwise known as Mama Vic to the seven of us. Vicki served as the Past President’s Representative this year which meant that she was our go-to resource, role model, and voice of reason. I think I speak for the entire Student Leadership Team in saying that Mama Vic will be a mentor for each of us forevermore. She has shared life lessons, invaluable wisdom, and unwavering support with us this year. My personal and professional skills have benefitted beyond measure from the brief time that I have spent in the company of this amazing woman, leader, and confidante. We are truly indebted to her for the dedication and devotion she willingly gave to this team and I thank her from the bottom of my heart.

As my team and I transition out, I could not be more thrilled to hand over the reins to this incoming group of student leaders. I am extremely proud of the leaders that the 2015–2016 Student Leadership Team developed and am confident that the students of the Association are going to see our works lived out in the coming year as the 2016–2017 Student Leadership Team begins their journey of humble servitude to the Association.

Your incoming NIRSA Student Leader, Will Trent, is currently serving as the Graduate Assistant for Marketing and Social Media at James Madison University. I have been blessed to know Will as a friend and now as a colleague at James Madison University. His passion for recreation is sure to shine bright in the coming year. He will bring a contagious energy and creative perspective to the Association. As the new leadership team gears up for another influential year and as each of you strive to lead on your campuses, I want to remind you of the following:

“Authentic leaders are eager to give recognition where recognition is due. They don’t want to steal from those who have truly earned it. They want to share credit and encourage others. They understand that all leadership accomplishments are team accomplishments, because leaders are people who achieve goals through people.” –Michael Youssef

As a NIRSA student, please remember that there is power in numbers and that strength is multiplied when passionate people collaborate on a common goal. I know that these seven strong individuals who have assumed roles as part of the Student Leadership Team will remember the synergy wielded in a team and the power in effective cooperation. They will rely on one another and share in the joy of serving the membership by advocating for you, upholding the student-driven issues, and providing developmental and involvement opportunities throughout the year. To NIRSA, the student leaders on my team, and all of our mentors, I thank you for making a lasting impact on my life and for allowing me to serve alongside you during the last year. You have forever shaped my future, my friendships, and my faith.

In humility and heartfelt appreciation,
Erica Estes
2015–2016 NIRSA Student Leader