Taylor Brandt’s career in campus recreation kicked off during her undergraduate career at Bowling Green State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in art history. While working in customer service, student development, and facility operations, Taylor attended and presented at conferences throughout NIRSA. Among graduation, she found her home away from home in Region II at the University of West Georgia where she currently serves as the Graduate Assistant of Facility Operations. At UWG, Taylor is pursuing a master’s degree in professional counseling with a focus in college student affairs.
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 provides security for those transitioning into their next phase of life, a sense of belonging in a familiar community, and an overall state of wellbeing for college students. We not only focus on the development of our employees, but we believe that we can provide exponential opportunities for all aspects of development for every patron we encounter.
For me personally, collegiate recreation has flipped my life upside down in every great way possible. My initial career path, like most in collegiate recreation, had nothing to do with higher education or campus rec. I didn’t feel a sense of belonging with my art history major, even though I had been passionate about it. However, I did feel a sense of belonging within my leadership/mentor position within campus recreation at my undergraduate institution. I became aware of specific strengths I held within helping others find and pursue their passions, identifying and harnessing individuals’ strong suits, as well as my knack for creative input within my facilities background. I’ve been able to expand on ideas in ways that have helped me blossom into a leader that also doubles as an encourager of wellness. It has led me to understand my purpose within college student affairs and how I can support future students while they find their “how” and “why.”
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?
I believe that one area for improvement within the NIRSA Strategic Plan, particularly the aspect of the plan that discusses accessible learning opportunities, is the fact that we have not necessarily made spreading efforts to improve inclusivity within ability. If our mission promotes inclusivity, our intramurals, group exercise classes, and other programs should reflect our student population with disabilities or further challenges that the average student does not face. We must be accessible to all students rather than the large majority. I would propose that we collaborate with more associations to ensure safe and adaptable practices to cater to the need of every student, and to encourage a healthy lifestyle within their daily life. The more we collaborate with other resources, the better understanding we will be able to maintain on how we can promote the dimensions of wellness for every patron that might walk through our doors. One example specifically, but is not limited to, providing group exercise classes that are specifically catered to being sensitive of the needs of transgender students, as their bodies may be experiencing changes out of their control.
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.
With my experience of gathering students to advocate for the common cause of lasting health and wellbeing on campus, I have become increasingly more qualified to serve the students of the Association. For example, I’ve managed to attend six NIRSA conferences throughout my four years in the field while taking students with me every time. I have presented on the “student of today” and how we can help serve their needs, both physically and professionally. I have been able to volunteer my time to student development events and programs that have helped better my students’ success in the long run. However, my favorite memory thus far on how I’ve affected a student’s life actually happened a few days ago. I attended Region II in Birmingham with several of my students. I had one student in particular that consistently showed me signs of disinterest through his behavior during the first day of the conference. He continued to seem disengaged for the rest of the conference. Being a hands-on supervisor, I confronted the student consistently to ask what he had learned about during the session he was just in. I continued to ask him how we could better our facility, as well as what he could apply to his specific major. After we returned home, I received a text from him reading (and I quote) “I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciated you at the NIRSA region II conference. Thank you for not letting us settle with just going through the motions, but challenging us and picking our minds about what we learned. On the other hand thank you for letting us be ourselves, and letting us let loose and blow off steam! You are a great GA! I really appreciate you!” Receiving messages like these are what this Association was founded upon, and it is why I believe my actions would serve the students with the vulnerable compassion they deserve.
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?
I have had the honor of being able to research and write about how student development theorists believe that a sense of community helps improve academic success and how collegiate recreation creates that sense of community on campus. My skills of being empathetic for my students, open-minded about change and continuous evolvement, and being truly passionate about positive growth through health and wellbeing encourages me that I have much to give to the student leadership team. My being a true ‘inputter’ and creator, I will continuously bring new concepts for improvement to the table in order to ensure that we adjust our practices to fit the health and wellness needs of our students and those to come after them.