Christopher Cooksey2017-12-14T19:14:29+00:00

Project Description

NIRSA Elections
NIRSA Elections

Candidate for Region II Student Leader

Christopher Cooksey
The University of Tennessee

Biography/Summary Resume

Chris Cooksey started working in campus recreation as a lifeguard three and a half years ago. In that time, he was promoted to Lifeguard Supervisor and then to Aquatics Program Assistant. Chris believes in continuing education and worked hard to become an American Heart Association CPR instructor, a lifeguard instructor, a water safety instructor, and continuing to stay involved at NIRSA conferences. He graduated with a degree in business administration and a minor in communication studies. After graduation, Chris moved to the University of Tennessee to continue his time in Region II. He is one of two Graduate Assistants for Aquatics and is studying recreation and sport management.

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 is similar to a chameleon in that it has the ability to take on different appearances depending on the situation. Each area of collegiate recreation has its own valuable purpose to the community it serves. For example, intramurals are a great way for participants to continue to compete in a sport that they love or even pick up a new one to play with friends. Aquatics is a great area for low impact exercise, rehabilitation, and teaching potentially lifesaving skills through swim lessons or lifeguard training. One of the best memories I have of collegiate recreation is watching adult swim lessons as a lifeguard and watching people who have never swam before overcome their fears and achieve their goals. Outdoor programs allow people the opportunity to explore nature in a safe manner, rent gear, and learn about themselves. Much like the chameleon, collegiate recreation changes as needs change to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For the chameleon, it is camouflage for safety. For higher education, collegiate recreation allows students, faculty, and staff to exercise, learn, and grow to promote healthy living and positive decision making. Collegiate recreation adapts to the participant through the diverse options it offers. If a program is not in place, collegiate recreation, in my opinion, is one of the most progressive areas in higher education to promote inclusion and excellence.

My experience with collegiate recreation has left and will continue to leave a lasting impact on my professional development. My first job was as a lifeguard within collegiate recreation. Here I learned the very basics of professional development: time management, upward communication, interview skills, etc. As I got more involved within collegiate recreation, I learned the transferable skills that are necessary to climb the ladder within collegiate recreation. I learned how to find a mentor and begin the process of building a network. I learned the importance of student development and how to work with students to ensure they are helping lead a successful program while they learn what it takes to be a successful employee, regardless of career path. Without a doubt, the largest impact on my professional development through collegiate recreation has been my development of a work-life balance. Through my interactions with various professional staff, graduate assistants, and undergraduate students, I have learned the importance of creating this balance and the benefit it has. Many professions lead to high levels of stress; however, in collegiate recreation I have learned this does not have to be the case and having a job that promotes healthy living and stress relief has been critical to my professional development.

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.

While I have only been a NIRSA member for just over a year, I have made it my duty to get involved with multiple areas that NIRSA provides. I attended the Region II conference the past two years along with the Annual Conference in 2017. Outside of simply attending the conferences, I took part in the Student Lead On and Lifeguard Games at the 2016 Region II Conference, participated in the J. Michael Dunn workshop at the 2017 Annual Conference, participated in the Community Service Project at the 2017 Region II Conference, and I am slated to present at the 2018 TIRSA conference.

I believe these experiences will give me a diverse background of activities that NIRSA offers its members. This qualifies me to serve in the regional student leader role because I will be able to help facilitate discussions on future events based on my past. One of my top strengths is that I am a learner. I realize I may not have experience on the back end for setting up and running one of these major preconference events; however, having participated in these events I have a foundation of knowledge that I can use in addition to what I learn from my peers. Additionally, as I am on my second university within Region II, I feel that my background with how the region works is high and I would be able to effectively communicate with the State Student Leaders and state representatives.

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?

Most importantly I excel with communication, both verbal and written. Going into my undergrad studies, my communication was an area I knew I needed to improve on. As a result, I added a communication studies minor and forced myself to improve. A large part of the job description involves some sort of communication with both professionals and students, and I know that I can now handle those responsibilities. I am also a skilled leader and have molded my talents for the past two years with my leadership roles in collegiate recreation. As both a supervisor and an instructor, I have learned how to successfully motivate people and instill a culture of excellence into the programs I have a hand in. I am a firm believer in maintaining an attitude of gratitude and ensuring a positive environment. This will transition to the events the region puts on and the students will see the best NIRSA has to offer.

Coming from an aquatics background, I will bring a unique perspective that Region II has not had in the past five years. In aquatics, teamwork is not just encouraged, rather it is needed at all times to ensure the safety of patrons. As the Region II Student Leader, I would take a team approach. Defer to those with more knowledge, delegate when I can, but lead all the time. It is critical to be adaptive as a lifeguard and never treat two situations alike, instead continually learning from past experiences and monitoring for potential hazards. This mentality fits well the fast pace of NIRSA and collegiate recreation. I will use this perspective to lead discussions to challenge the status quo, think outside of the box, and promote creative thinking amongst the student state leaders when it comes to ensuring the success of events and conferences. This fits well with my background in business administration. The goal would not be to run NIRSA like a business, rather use the skillsets gained through my undergrad to bring new thoughts to the table when it comes to cross-generational marketing and spreading information about upcoming events to gain participation and buy-in to the NIRSA family.

NIRSA Elections: Christopher Cooksey