Jonathan Sanders started working in campus recreation at the University of South Carolina in the intramural sports department. He became an official for several sports and advanced to a supervisor and office assistant within the program. Jonathan also started working in other areas in the recreation center to learn more of the NIRSA system. Jonathan earned his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. After graduation, he moved to Region 1 to become the Graduate Assistant of Intramural Sports at Boston College. Jonathan is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Sports Administration at Boston College.
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 has an opportunity to reach everyone in higher education. The diverse programs that collegiate recreation offers give different avenues to all members. Whether it is taking a group exercise class, playing on an intramural team, or traveling to a new place with the outdoor adventure program, opportunities are truly endless in collegiate recreation. Having these opportunities in campus recreation allows both students and professional staff in higher education to collaborate through recreation. With these connections, the possibilities extend further than just campus recreation. Mentorship of staff members to students build a stronger program and gives the students a chance to grow past the college classroom. I was fortunate enough through the mentorship program of campus recreation to further my education and career in campus recreation. Collegiate recreation was an outlet for me as a student and now I am able to give back as a graduate assistant by being a mentor to those around me. As a first semester freshman, I was unsure where I would find my fit at a big university. Walking into the recreation center I felt as welcomed as anywhere else on campus with the people and activities offered. I applied to be a softball official for the intramural sports program and soon got hired. Just a few short years later I found myself officiating collegiate basketball, which was a giant step in my officiating career. I would have never guessed that I would have developed into the official I am today or pursuing the career path of campus recreation. Now I am working towards my master’s degree at a new school in a different region. I never could imagine the opportunities collegiate recreation has offered me and how much it can impact others both personally and professionally.
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.
Being involved in NIRSA is unlike any member network. Colleagues that I have met through various NIRSA events have become some of my closest friends. I have been fortunate enough to attend several regional tournaments for basketball and flag football, attend state workshops, and attend conferences from two different regions and the national conference. Being able to have these experiences has allowed me to meet some great people with awesome ideas. Learning how we can constantly improve and collaborate with others is what drives me to want to be the best that I can be. While attending different events, I have gotten to see different facilities and learn how other professionals operate their campus recreation. These experiences are what I believe is needed to hear what the student member network wants in a student leader. The Member Network wants someone who can represent them and be their voice in NIRSA. I believe that I can be that voice. Member connections are the key part to being a great leader. I will strive to make these meaningful connections and act on the issues by being the voice of the Region I 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?
As the Student Leader, I would want to expand the student network and opportunities for students. I have been fortunate enough to attend many NIRSA events and I would like to advertise these opportunities to others. Being personable allows making connections easier and being passionate about NIRSA makes me want to strive to be the best leader possible. As soon as students learn about the many opportunities NIRSA has and how many connections they can make, their interest drastically increases. I would like to increase this participation by revamping the Student Lead-On and increase mentor/mentee opportunities. Professional staff members work in campus recreation because they love what they do. Generally, someone who was a leader to them encouraged them to continue in the field. If given the opportunity I believe they would want to help other students. Mentorship can help students even if they don’t stay in the field of recreation. Professional and personal development is something I have gained through my years as a NIRSA student member and it is something I would want to help other students accomplish.