Project Description

NIRSA Elections
NIRSA Elections

Candidate for Region I Student Leader

James Stinsman
West Chester University

Biography/Summary Resume

James Stinsman found his path in campus recreation while completing his undergraduate degree in sport and recreation management at Temple University. James joined campus recreation as an intramural official and quickly gained a desire to want to get more involved. In an effort to take on more responsibility, James began working as a sport club supervisor and program management intern. Additionally, he has served as the Pennsylvania State Student Leader (PIRSA) for the past two years and attended the 2019 NIRSA Region I Conference in Annapolis, Maryland. James is currently Graduate Assistant for Facilities and Business Operations at West Chester University where he is studying to obtain a master’s in public administration with a certificate in sport management and athletics.

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.

Collegiate recreation came to me at a time when I needed it most. I was an anxious freshman at the time, who had absolutely no clue what I wanted to do with myself. Coming into college I was set on wanting to be a physical therapist and did everything I possibly could to steer myself in that direction. But it was at the end of my first semester when I knew something was off. So I decided to take a semester of just gen-ed courses and reconsider. That was when I decided to change my major to sport and recreation management. Shortly thereafter, l was given an opportunity to work as an intramural official and that was where my journey in campus recreation started.

In just a few weeks of working as an intramural official, I was able to realize how much of an impact you have on the daily lives of the students that take part in your leagues. From giving these students an outlet away from classes to come and enjoy themselves, to the personal relationships that are made with both patrons and co-workers, this job was so rewarding that coming to work was something I looked forward to everyday. I quickly wanted to take on more responsibility and was given an opportunity to work as a sport club supervisor. Through my interactions with our sport club teams, I was able to meet many people and make connections with more students than I already was just in intramurals.

Through holding these positions, I was able to learn so much more not only about myself but about the impact that collegiate recreation has on college students as a whole. Through my experiences working and participating in collegiate recreation, I realized that I was a happier and more motivated person than I ever was before. I not only saw benefits in my personal life, but it also improved my performance in the classroom. I was finally goal driven and wanted to do my best in everything that I did. Collegiate recreation truly had an impact in making me the man I am today and continues to have an impact on every student that chooses to participate in it.

Collegiate recreation is so much more than the facilities, programs, and leagues that it offers. Collegiate recreation gives students the opportunity to make lasting relationships with the staff and patrons that will last longer than any lesson learned in the classroom. The impact that collegiate recreation has on students is larger than many can even imagine and plays a large role in shaping collegiate careers each and every day.

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?

Within the context of the NIRSA Strategic Plan, one area that is a major issue that students face today is understanding how campus recreation professionals impact student success. As a student, often times patrons do not realize how much time and effort these professionals put into making sure what they are doing is beneficial. Campus recreation professionals want to have an impact and they enjoy doing what they do because they see the benefits in student success. This may be overlooked by students sometimes but without realizing this, it is hard to find a purpose. The energy of the professionals feed off onto the student employees and down the ladder. Without having a staff that is energetic and motivated, campus recreation centers wouldn’t be what they are today.

These professionals have a large impact on everyone and everything that surrounds them, and they bring their best each and every day. With that being said, students need to see this energy and see the importance of it and why this is the mindset that they need to have. As a member of the Student Leadership Team, I would use this platform to connect students and professionals and show them the impact that this has. I would use this position to be able to speak to campus recreation professionals directly and find out their why. Each employee is campus recreation has a different reason as to why they do what they do, and it is extremely important for others to hear these stories. By sharing our stories and engaging in important dialogue, we may be able to impact students more than we already are today.

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.

My journey in NIRSA started when I chose to work in the field of campus recreation. I participated and worked as an official for City 6 extramural events. During my junior year at Temple, I began wanting to get more involved and sought out more opportunities to get involved in NIRSA. This was when I applied to serve as the PIRSA State Student Leader as I saw this as a great opportunity to develop not only myself but other students in the Pennsylvania area.

I have served as the Pennsylvania State Student Leader for the past two years. With this position came a lot of opportunities to meet other students and professionals who work directly with NIRSA on a daily basis. I attended many leadership meetings where I was able to work with other leaders in NIRSA that help to make Region I what it is today. Through this experience, I was also given the opportunity to attend the NIRSA Region I Conference in Annapolis, Maryland where I was able to get my first in-person experience of everything NIRSA has to offer.

At this conference, I attended many educational sessions that really changed my outlook on campus recreation and left me with a desire to want to learn more. I made many connections and met many students and professionals who had the same desires as I did. Upon leaving this conference, I was ecstatic thinking about the many opportunities that there were out there to get more involved. Upon leaving this conference, I decided that I wanted to work towards hopefully finding a career in campus recreation.

I began applying for graduate assistantships and was fortunate enough to find one at West Chester University where I currently serve as Graduate Assistant for Facilities and Business Operations. The anxious feeling that I had leaving the regional conference led me to decide that I wanted to present at the Pennsylvania State Workshop. At this workshop, I had the opportunity to present on the topic of “finding your path” and directly related this to my experience in campus recreation. I saw this as an opportunity to provide insight and information on how making one small decision can change so much. Through this presentation, I was able to connect with many professionals and students who were able to speak about their journey and how it related to mine. At the time, making the decision to get more involved seemed like the best thing to do and after this experience I was able to vouch for that more than ever before.

As a graduate student, I have continued to stay involved with NIRSA. I am currently serving in my second term as the Pennsylvania State Student Leader. This organization has had such a strong impact on my journey in such a short time that I continue to want to take on more responsibility as I see the impact that it has not only on myself but on others. Just recently, I was given the opportunity to attend the 2020 NIRSA Regional Conference, which didn’t skip a beat even though it was held virtually. This conference, yet again, provided me with so much more than I was expecting. I was able to engage in important conversations with other students and professionals and boost my desire to want to stay involved. This has led me to the position that I am in today and again the increasing desire to want to get more involved.

My previous experiences have not only shaped me into the person I am today but have encouraged me to want to give back to other students as campus recreation has given so much to me already. I am applying to serve as the NIRSA Region I Student Leader because I want to have an impact and I want to continue learning. I will continue to take advantage of these opportunities as there is so much more to learn and I know that it will benefit not only myself but also the many students and professionals that I will work with along the way.

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?

As an undergraduate student working in campus recreation, I was unaware of NIRSA and its impact until I began wanting to get more involved. Although I had briefly heard about NIRSA, I did not know much. As I have been able to get more involved, I have seen how much it can be a struggle to get students that may not be wanting to find a career in campus recreation involved with NIRSA. As we are currently dealing with the effects of a pandemic, I believe it is essential now more than ever before to get these students involved.

As the Region I Student Leader it would be a part of my goal to begin to change this. I know that this is not a change that will happen overnight, but it is important that we begin to change the mindset of these students and show them how much NIRSA offers. I believe that finding a connection within NIRSA in some way, shape, or form is essential to the development of college students as a whole. I would use this position to connect with other students and professionals to begin to spread this message. Mainly, I would do this through direction communication with schools, to begin to educate them on why it is essential to share this message with all of their students. I would also use this platform to be able to share this message with students at my own school and explain to them how beneficial it can be for them to get involved. If students start being informed about NIRSA when they begin working in campus recreation and are reminded throughout their time working in the department, it may encourage them to want to get more involved.

Informing these students of the many things that NIRSA offers and allowing them to see and hear the impact that it has on the professional staff and graduate assistants that work at their institutions will essentially allow these students to see the affect that it can have on them if they get involved. Encouraging these students to get involved and showing them how will increase the likelihood that these students will want to get involved and will help NIRSA with student member recruitment and retention as well as student development.

Personally, I am not a shy person and I will do everything I can to get more students involved. As the Pennsylvania State Student Leader, this has been an effort of mine since I started in this position. There are so many opportunities to get involved with NIRSA and I truly believe that as long as these students are aware and continuously reminded about these opportunities, they will get involved. My goal within this position would be to use my voice to encourage participation and help these students in any way that I can.

NIRSA Elections: James Stinsman