Please provide a statement of your personal views on the role and contributions of collegiate recreation in higher education. In your response describe how collegiate recreation has influenced your development.
College is a truly special time in life. It is a time of influence, development, and growth. It is a unique season of life where many students get to face things, both good and bad, for the first time with a completely new set of people. In my experience, I moved 12 hours away from home to a new state, a new place, with all new people. It was the first time I was ever faced with the challenge of balancing academics, friends, work and my own health and wellbeing. At the beginning of college, I was challenged with some personal struggles and thought I was going to transfer to a different institution. Fast forward four years, and now I consider that place home, and contribute that largely to the campus recreation program on my campus. Campus recreation, and the recreation center on many college campuses begins as a place students go to work out, play sports, swim laps, or whatever service they may be taking advantage of, but it is far more than that.
It is a place where students can come to relieve stress or unwind for their day, learn about health and wellbeing, develop good habits, connect with others and foster relationships that may last them throughout their lifetime. This is how campus recreation began for me, until I got the opportunity to work there. As a student employee, campus recreation became my home away from home. My job was something I fell in love with, I felt valued as an employee, I learned to take ownership of my work, gave me an opportunity to give back to my institution and it was where I met the people that have helped me develop into the person I am today. My coworkers quickly became my best friends, my bosses became my role models, and with that combination, there was no place else I wanted to be on my campus. That feeling was spread throughout the staff and it quickly translated into the student body and campus recreation became the central hub of campus where students, student workers, faculty and staff all alike would love to come to.
Within the context of the NIRSA Strategic Plan, what area/item would you say is a major issue students face today? Please identify a student driven issue that we are currently face today and you would like to address during your term. How will you create solutions in your role on the Student Leadership Team to address it?
One of the greatest challenges that students face today is balance. There are so many things that are pulling them in so many opposite directions. Having to make choices for ourselves is difficult, and when those choices affect other people it’s even more difficult. As students we are faced with tough decisions daily that can be tiresome creating negative impacts in our health and wellbeing. Being that a defined area of focus in the NIRSA Strategic Plan is to be the driving force in an integrated approach to health and wellbeing, addressing the issue of helping students feel more comfortable making decisions in regards to balancing the different aspects of their life is something I foresee the Student Leadership Team being able to address. Through education, activities, and mentorship students can become more comfortable with making decisions about how to balance their life and improve their health and wellbeing. In my role on the Student Leadership Team, I would help facilitate the conversation of how we are going to create these opportunities for students to learn and become more comfortable in the skill of effective decision making to create balance in their life.
Educating both students and professionals about ways to make decisions to create balance and positively affect your health and wellbeing will be crucial in developing a comprehensive approach to balance for students. I hope that in my role I will be able to spark conversations surrounding these ideas and contribute my own ideas to some ways we can tackle these initiatives. Through NIRSA, we have the opportunity to connect with mentors, attend conferences and be connected with people from all across the organization. Taking advantage of these opportunities as the Student Leadership Team, and getting students and professionals to take advantage of these opportunities, will be a key way we can address the issue with our student members and the non-members at the institutions we serve.
In describing your contributions to NIRSA (i.e. presentations, volunteering, previous leadership roles, etc,), identify how your involvement and experiences meet the position criteria and qualify you to advocate for and serve the students of the Association.
Being involved in NIRSA is such a special opportunity that I am grateful to be a part of. Getting to connect with like-minded leaders who all share the same passion is incredible. When I first learned about NIRSA two years ago, I was instantly sold. Who would not want to be a part of a group that prides themselves on being lifelong learners that are dedicated to chasing excellence in things like diversity and inclusion, health and wellbeing, leadership, service and dedication to students? My NIRSA involvement, so far, has included attending two regional conferences, and one annual conference. I have also served as an engagement coordinator, been a member of the State Operations Task Force, been a conference volunteer and am currently a part of the mentor program as both a mentee and mentor. These opportunities within NIRSA have allowed me to meet and interact with people from all over the Association and learn about what they are doing and what they may need to be successful. Being a part of NIRSA means being passionate about helping students succeed and flourish during their time on campus. That cannot be done if the experiences of those students are not the driving force. Immersing myself in these situations has allowed me to gain what I believe to be a great start in understanding what the students need. I will be able to advocate for and work towards achieving the things our NIRSA student members may need as a part of the Student Leadership Team.
As a Student Leader within NIRSA, you have the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the field of collegiate recreation. With a focus on Student Member Recruitment & Retention, and Student Development what skills, talents, and perspectives would you bring to the Student Leadership Team?
In my first couple months as being a graduate assistant, I have learned a lot about myself, others and campus recreation. I began my journey with campus recreation at a small private school of about 2,000 students. Our campus recreation department had three professionals and two graduate assistants. My current role is at a large public institution of about 20,000 students in a department with 14 professionals and 14 graduate assistants. This experience provides me with a unique perspective that I believe to be valuable to the Student Leadership Team. Having the opportunity to be a part of two distinctly different institutions has helped me to learn that it does not matter where you are, but if you love and enjoy what you are doing and who you are doing it with, you will be happy and successful. Creating an atmosphere to encourages this principle among the Student Leadership Team through constant positivity, support and friendship is something that will influence many NIRSA students. This model of doing what you love and loving who you do it with can be brought to their respective institutions and impact the Association in many positive ways, including student recruitment, retention and development.