Caroline Ciell2017-12-14T19:14:29+00:00

Project Description

NIRSA Elections
NIRSA Elections

Candidate for NIRSA Student Leader

Caroline Ciell
University of Mississippi

Biography/Summary Resume

Caroline Ciell started working in Recreational Sports as an Operations Associate in her sophomore year at the University of Florida. Her biggest strides in personal and professional development came from her time as a Recreational Sports team member where as she found teammates who became family. She attended her first NIRSA conference in 2016 and has been a proud member ever since. Caroline currently serves as the first-year Graduate Assistant for Facility Operations at the University of Mississippi. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Education from UF and is working towards a Master’s Degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs at Ole Miss. Caroline is excited about the opportunity to serve the students of NIRSA as a leader in collegiate recreation.

Please provide a statement of your personal views on the role and contributions of collegiate recreation in higher education and the impact it has had on your personal development.

As Leaders in Collegiate Recreation, we serve as foundational co-curricular partners in student success by infusing energy and inspiration into the campus ecology. Often our work goes unnoticed, but our purpose is clear. We are essential players in student development as well as major contributors to a successful and meaningful college experience. The opportunities we offer complement students’ learning in the classroom by giving them a tangible outlet to practice the eight dimensions of wellness while building self-efficacy and mastering competencies along the way.

Students can learn about equity, diversity, and inclusion from a PowerPoint, but what better way to understand these principles than engaging with students from a different background in an intramural game? Students can learn about leadership styles and theories in a course for credit, but what better way to practice it than facilitating an outdoor challenge course? Students can learn about building a sustainable community through required academic volunteer hours, but what better way to experientially learn than through department service initiatives that directly affect community members sharing their facility space? We live and breathe NIRSA values into our respective institutions. The outcomes that develop out of practicing our values improve the lives of students, universities, communities, and the world.

I attribute my retention, graduation, and continued higher education to the mentors, team members, and developmental opportunities provided to me as a participant but also as a student employee within collegiate recreation. My mentors who have become family saw something in me that I could not even see in myself. When I was struggling to find my purpose as I closed out my senior year, my mentors reached out to me asking if I ever considered a graduate assistantship. They said that with my experience and mindset, they really saw a future for me in the field. I would not be where I am today without their vision for me, and their confidence that I could achieve any goals that I set. I pass on that mentality to the students I currently supervise. My student team members inspire me to work harder and reach higher which transcends in the work that they do and the lives that they touch. When talking about building family amongst student staff, a supervisor once told me that it is up to us to make sure that each student staff member has someone they feel they can approach with any concern. I have made it my professional philosophy to make sure that students feel valued and supported throughout the challenges of college.

I am privileged to be able to engage in developmental opportunities that help shape my professional philosophy and build competencies. In my undergraduate career, opportunities focused on resume and cover letter workshops, mock interviews, and leadership trainings helped set me apart from other students. In my graduate career, attending conferences and exchanging ideas is crucial to being a lifelong learner and developing daily, principles instilled in me by another mentor a former supervisor. It is my professional goal and my hope to empower students and to let them feel that they matter. I hold Maya Angelou’s quote very dear to my heart: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This will be the driving force behind the legacy that I want to leave with NIRSA student members.

In describing your contributions to the Member Network, NIRSA, and the students, identify how your involvement and experiences meet the position criteria and qualify you to serve NIRSA in this role.

Participating in the 2016 Florida Summit state workshop, serving on the Student Lead On Committee for the 2017 NIRSA Region II Conference, and attending the 2017 Annual Conference are all experiences that qualify me for the position. Having attended and engaged in conferences on a state, regional, and international level will aid me in tailoring experiences to meet NIRSA students where they are in their personal and professional journey. I also just volunteered at my first NIRSA Championship Series Extramural Tournaments this past weekend, which continued to open my eyes with all the opportunities NIRSA offers.

The most defining experience was working with the Student Lead On team that planned and executed the student-centered preconference workshop at the 2017 Region II Conference in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. Our team was very intentional about being inclusive to graduate and undergraduate student attendees. During the preparation and execution of the Lead On, there were many experiences that will help me excel as the NIRSA Student Leader. Engaging in conference calls taught me how to build relationships with team members virtually. I learned that committing time to prepare for these calls and to bring ideas were essential to making our planning time together effective. This experience will serve as a great foundation for building relationships between regional student leaders and representatives to promote collaboration and synergy throughout the Member Network.

In addition, during this time of preparation for the Lead On, we contacted professionals to assist with sessions and the Student Lounge. Practicing this poise and professionalism will be essential in communicating student needs to the Member Network Board of Directors Representatives. Finally, the preparation of the Lead On showed me that intentional, individualized outcome for both undergraduate and graduate students is crucial in the planning process. This experience translates into developing a work plan for student annual goals and achieving student specific tactics in NIRSA’s Strategic Plan.

In my day-to-day responsibilities, as well as each conference I attend, I model the way for potential new student members as well as current student members at the conference by holding myself accountable by engaging in sessions and conference activities. I volunteered in the Talk to a Facilities GA session, served as a session monitor, and presented on professional competencies and the Leadership Challenge. Throughout the Lead On and conference I was able to facilitate a collaborative effort between the Student Lead On Committee and State Student Leaders on the Student Leadership Challenge Session. That to me was the biggest victory of the conference as it empowered key student stakeholders in the Region to lead discussions on leadership.

At last year’s annual conference, I attended the J. Michael Dunn Student Development workshop. With this experience from a participant lens and my experience in planning the Student Lead On, I believe I can successfully collaborate with the Student Professional Development Committee for a phenomenal preconference workshop. As an includer with experience in networking from the student perspective on various levels I believe I will be able to effectively collaborate with existing NIRSA committees for the best possible learning outcomes for student members.

As a Student Leader of NIRSA, you have the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the field of collegiate recreation. What skills, talents, and perspectives would you bring to the Student Leadership Team?

The core of what I would bring to the Student Leadership Team is a perspective that is centered around supporting our students through our values. To me, it is essential for every team member to view their role on the leadership team as one of service to student members and not of entitlement to privileges. I believe there is no room for egos on a team within an organization of altruistically dedicated professionals. I also feel passionate about the perspective of having a growth mindset. NIRSA and the Student Leadership Team have great initiatives such as the Engagement Coordinator Program and Mentor Program that can continue to be cultivated and built up to promote student member success. I am committed to expanding our reach in these initiatives to enhance the student member experience.

From my previous experience on the Student Lead On Committee, I quickly realized that dedication and commitment were crucial to involvement in NIRSA programming on the planning level. It will be essential to move into the onboarding and training process of the Student Leadership Team that we must hold each other accountable in dedicating the proper time and attention to complete our tasks in a timely manner. From a perspective standpoint, I think what I will bring to the team is thinking about the NIRSA experience from the lens of the student member or potential student member. We can improve the student experience through checking in and keeping Engagement Coordinators and Mentor Programs participants accountable and moving forward.

As far as skills are concerned I am intentional and meticulous in placing team members in a position to succeed. When asked what role I play on a team I often claim that I am a “highlighter,” showcasing and celebrating the victories of my team members. I effectively manage my time and prioritize my NIRSA involvement directly following academic responsibilities in conjunction with my graduate assistant commitments. NIRSA has given me purpose and drive to continue my personal and professional journey to excellence. I want to be able to continue to light that fire and pass on the torch to the next generation of students that will join our family.

NIRSA Elections: Caroline Ciell