Grayson Graham began his journey in collegiate recreation at Oklahoma State University (OSU) where he earned his degrees in sports management and marketing. Grayson joined the competitive sports staff as a senior and quickly was introduced to NIRSA and the opportunities that came with it. As a senior who was unsure about a career path, Grayson chose to pursue a career in collegiate recreation. Grayson accepted the Intramural Sports Graduate Assistant position at Emporia State University where he became the Kansas State Leader. Grayson 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.
Collegiate recreation has made me rediscover my passion for sports, university pride, and professional development. Getting into collegiate recreation has helped me grow as a professional by being able to attend a regional conference and soon a national conference. The relationships I have made and friendships I have gained will without a doubt be lasting ones that I can thank campus rec for. The role collegiate recreation has had on my development as a professional has started as an undergraduate. As an undergraduate student, I knew very little about NIRSA and what it brings, but with the help of the graduate students and professional staff they opened doors for me to excel and be very involved in NIRSA. As a graduate student, collegiate recreation has helped me develop my management skills, conflict resolution skills, and is continually helping me overall with the skills necessary to run a campus recreation center. Research also has seen GPAs of students increase as well as a higher retention rate with student employees who work for a campus recreation department.
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 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?
A major issue I believe students currently face is the knowledge of career paths NIRSA has and overall knowledge of NIRSA. As a student, I knew very little of NIRSA. I was unsure about the questions to ask regarding NIRSA as well as how to get involved. Once I started officiating NIRSA tournaments, I quickly met professional staff who talked me about everything NIRSA can do and what they are about. But I still did not know the right steps to take to pursue a career in campus recreation. I believe if there was more recruitment from professional staff to hire recreation major students to be involved in their campus recreation department the retention rate would be high and the interest in collegiate recreation positions would be high as well. I also think more state workshops for students would be beneficial as well. Students who attend these workshops can be more prepared for regional and national conferences and not be overwhelmed by what is going on.
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.
While volunteering at the Region IV Conference this year I was able to bring back the knowledge to my school to help with increasing participation with the students on campus, advance the goals our program has set for myself and our intramural program, and to adjust those in forward moving process. As the Kansas State Student Leader, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the monthly video conferences with the remaining Region IV State Student Leaders as well as the Region IV Student Leader. I found these video conferences very beneficial not only to know what is happening around the region but the campuses as well. I have promoted student involvement currently with my student staff by giving them the opportunity to attend the Kansas State Workshop, encourage them to apply to officiate multiple NIRSA regional tournaments as well as play in them.
As a current Student State Leader, I know it is important to assist with the Mentoring Program. I have seen success through this program and believe it is very beneficial not only to the mentee but the mentor as well. Volunteering within NIRSA at any event, whether it is a tournament or conference, is very rewarding in my opinion. Volunteers contribute more than we think and by giving our time and effort to these events helps the directors greatly to know everything can run smoothly with an extra hand to help. I also believe a contribution I can bring to the team is the success of a smaller school. If I am accepted into this position it can show smaller schools that they also can be beneficial to NIRSA as well as NIRSA involvement being beneficial to their school as well.
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?
Some skills I would bring to the student leadership team are my recruitment skills. Coming to Emporia State University I had three returning staff members who were supervisors. I had to find students who wanted to work here and make sure the environment they were in was one they wanted to stay in and keep backing to each day. I was able to recruit a diverse staff from the student population who I have molded in excel in the program we have placed at our recreation center. Another skill I would bring is communication. Every Monday I send out a message to my staff about what is happening in the week, daily schedule reminders and updates whenever they happen. I believe that as long as I am communicating with everyone in my department, we can all have a sense of what is going on and anyone can give student participants help when needed.
A perspective I can bring to the student leader team is not too long ago I was a senior in college unsure about my career path. By joining the Oklahoma State University Campus Recreation Department I quickly found a career I wanted to pursue. I became the Intramural Graduate Assistant here at Emporia State University and wanted to guide my student staff towards NIRSA and show them the professional success not only that I have had but what they could reach as well. Within my first semester at Emporia State University we have had a large increase in participation and addition of sports offered to our student participants.