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.
Collegiate recreation in higher education provides a platform for learning and self-reflection. We, as professionals in this field, understand the importance of the patron and their holistic development. What I love most about being involved and leading in recreation is the ability to be the advocate for others while recognizing our role in creating an excellent experience. Recreation allows us to develop perspective and teach ourselves to be at eye level when working with students, and that is truly what puts us in a position for success. One thing leaders in collegiate recreation should take pride in is our promotion of safety and how we are a haven for a huge population of students. I have been fortunate to have mentors who have helped open my eyes and acknowledge the lengths we can go to leave a lasting impact. Whether it be one person or a thousand, the second a patron enters our facilities, we desire nothing more than to make them feel at home. No matter the situation, collegiate recreation is an outlet and a way to relieve stress, reflect, build relationships, and learn from one another.
My development in becoming a leader hasn’t been the easiest, nor has it been the most traditional. I recognize collegiate recreation as the wheel that steered me on this journey to impact others. This field is truly supportive as much as it is empowering and if it weren’t for NIRSA, I don’t believe I would be able to pay it forward. What working in campus rec at ESU did was show me that we all have chances to be successful, we just need to work hard and diligently to do so. The mentors have all been people who saw potential and bought into me. Devoted their time and efforts to see me through to the next step. The culture of NIRSA has proved to me that everyone is willing to be the helping hand you might need; you just need to know how to look for them. I have more confidence now in my development than I ever had and I credit that solely to this association and all the people that are a part of it.
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.
In my undergraduate years and time as a graduate assistant at VCU, I have been able to supervise staffs of various shapes and sizes. Each of which have presented their own issues, but through active and intentional communication I have been able to reach a point of production. Working with the region student leaders is an opportunity for each of us to elaborate on our experiences and how they’ve developed us. My experiences have a lot to do with conference attendance in every category from state workshops to regional conferences, as well as heading to the massive conference centers for NIRSA Annual. This gives me an idea of how to meet the wants and needs of our conference attendees and allows me to provide an experienced perspective while working with the other Student Leaders.
I value the relationships that NIRSA has been able to provide me with over the years. The Mentor Program has paired me with a mentor that always has my best interest in mind. Not only was she able to guide me through the processes of applications and interviews last spring, but she was able to bring me to Florida Gulf Coast University as an intern and culminate my undergraduate degree. Our mentorship program has capabilities that exceeded far beyond my expectations and it is an educational opportunity that is available to all NIRSA student members. I feel that my experiences allow me the platform to speak from the first-hand influences of having a mentor and the wonders she has done for me.
NIRSA is able to provide a number of opportunities for development through scholarships, preconference workshops, and volunteering. As a Region I scholarship recipient, J. Michael Dunn Student Professional Development Preconference Workshop attendee, and conference volunteer, I have been able to recognize the importance of networking and the fostering of relationships as we grow and learn. Arguably my favorite part about NIRSA has been challenging myself to meet new people and step out of my comfort zone. As a leader, I intend to be an embodiment of this association and to actively promote that growth is out there to be made. You can cross paths with leaders from all walks of life and I have found that all it takes to begin this learning process is a handshake and a smile.
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?
As a student leader of NIRSA, an integral part of leading has everything to do with the ability to communicate. I love the challenge of meeting new people and conversing with others. With every conversation, listening and seeking new ideas is at the forefront of developing relationships. It makes being a leader enjoyable, particularly when a team can connect and embrace the challenge together. Communication pulls together perspectives and those perspectives unify to create an idea that the team can be passionate about.
Leading a group of individuals with the same passions inspires me to be better in every facet of my job. One of my favorite things to do is maximize the potential of others while expecting they will do the same for me. Developing one another with an end goal in mind can not only surface the best out of each individual while also fortifying the team. It is important to me as a leader, a coach, and an educator to recognize strengths of the regional student leaders and utilize them for everyone to tap into their ultimate potential.
With my experiences, I want to be able to cultivate a perspective on diversity and inclusivity and the role collegiate recreation plays in that. Being in a university setting, we host a number of patrons who hail from different countries and backgrounds that we may not fully understand. As an undergraduate, that was never something that crossed my mind. I knew my upbringing and that was it. However, at East Stroudsburg, we “walked the line.” This activity is widely used to ask the staff to be vulnerable and accept themselves for who we are. We all have strengths and areas for improvement, but there are things we simply must learn to embrace. We are who we are and that is the impact I wish to leave.
I have always taken a lot of pride in being able to help others. It is the most satisfying feeling in the world when you help people take the next step in their lives and discover their passions. That does not necessarily always mean in this field, but pushing others to seek opportunity and capture them when they arise really drives me as a professional. My story alone is a roller coaster, and I truly believe that I would not be in this position if it were not for the family I have developed in collegiate recreation. There have been many people who have pushed me to strive above and beyond my limits. As the NIRSA Student Leader, I want to encourage the students of NIRSA and motivate them to always go the extra mile and, more importantly, be their best self.