Johnny Keefer began his journey in collegiate recreation at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa where he earned his undergraduate degree in sport management. As a senior, Johnny joined the Campus Recreation Department as an intern and quickly found his love for collegiate recreation. Johnny decided he wanted to continue down this path and began to pursue a graduate assistantship. Shortly thereafter, Johnny accepted the Facility Operations Graduate Assistant position at Emporia State University. Here he became the Kansas State Leader as well as a Co-Vice Chair of the Region IV Facilities Committee and a member of the Region IV Student Development Committee. Johnny is pursuing his master’s degree in health, physical education, and recreation.
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.
The role of collegiate recreation in higher education is something I feel as though is extremely valuable. As an undergraduate student heavily involved in intramurals and now as a graduate assistant overseeing day-to-day operations, I have witnessed firsthand the power that collegiate recreation has. Collegiate recreation gives students an outlet and platform to grow in a multitude of different ways. From physical growth to emotional and social growth, there is something for each student to participate in that allows them to leave their university stronger then when they started.
I personally have seen myself step out of my shell and grow as a person due to collegiate recreation. I have always held recreation as an important part of my higher education journey and through my graduate assistantship have tried to provide students with that outlet that has helped me develop so much as a person. Now more than ever living through a pandemic and arguably the hardest times in our lives, collegiate recreation is more important than ever. Students are leaning and relying on ways to engage themselves and keep themselves active and happy during these challenging times. I believe that collegiate recreation and its role is larger than ever when it comes to supporting all members of a campus community.
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 a major issue that I see students facing today is the lack of equity, diversity, and inclusion. We see around the United States these issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion being a focal point of conversation, and rightly so. Taking a look deeper into collegiate recreation we can see that these issues do not just go away when we reach the recreation setting. I believe that there has not been enough discussion or awareness when it comes to providing opportunities for minorities, women, or those who do not feel as though they are accurately represented around the country or in collegiate recreation. I do believe that NIRSA is on the right track when it comes to conversation series and ways to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion, but I do feel as though it needs to be a consistent process.
As a member of the Student Leadership Team I want to make sure that these discussions do not just go away. It is important now more than ever to continue the conversations and promote awareness of the issues around the country. I would want to collaborate with other regional student leaders to figure out how to best put on presentations, discussions, or involvement around these issues and ensure that everyone has a voice.
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.
Although I have only been a part of NIRSA for the past year, I’ve already seen a substantial increase in my professional development and knowledge when it comes to advocating for and serving students across the region. Through my role as the State Student Leader of Kansas and being a member of the Region IV Student Development Committee and a Co-Vice Chair for the Region IV Facilities Committee I have collaborated with other collegiate recreation professionals from around my region and can see the support and influence that comes with being in a NIRSA leadership role.
I believe that in this regional student leader position I could make a positive impact and ensure that whatever I am assisting and engaging in will help push the students of the Association towards success. With my current engagement in monthly committee and regional/state meetings I can see how passionate the individuals of the region are it. This is extremely encouraging and pushes me to want to keep pursuing these leadership roles and supporting the students around the region. I have seen what it takes to make sure students have the opportunities to grow both personally and professionally and believe that I am qualified to continue to advocate for and serve the students of the Association.
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 a regional student leader within NIRSA I would bring my knowledge and experience from what I have learned thus far as a state student leader to the Student Leadership Team. Through communication with the current Regional Student Leader and sitting in on a Student Leadership Team meeting I have seen the discussions and what it takes to make sure the team is running smoothly. I have always wanted to make sure that whatever it is I decide to do in life I am able to give back and help other students develop and grow professionally the way I have.
During my time with NIRSA I have already met and interacted with some great people in the community who I really look up to. I know that as a RSL I can bring my experiences from these relationships to the table to best help future NIRSA members and students. I think that it is important as a student to have people that are “in your corner” and providing any support or help needed in order to succeed. As a regional student leader I want to make sure that I am not only recruiting and retaining these students, but also showing them all that NIRSA can do to help their professional development.