Alyssa Moncrief began her journey in campus recreation in 2016 at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology with a focus in sport management. In Corpus Christi, Alyssa started as a facility attendant, but quickly began to explore the other areas of campus recreation, eventually working on the marketing team as a swim lesson instructor, a youth camp counselor and supervisor, an office assistant, as well as working with special events and leading her own special event program, which brought in over 600 attendees. Her positions in campus recreation inspired her to change her major and decide to pursue a career in campus recreation.
In 2018, Alyssa became a NIRSA member, and since then has attended two annual conferences and two regional conferences. She served on the Region IV Student Lead-on Committee in 2018, served as the Co-Chair for the 2019 Region IV Student Lead-on Committee, and also served as the 2019–2020 Texas Student Leader. In addition, Alyssa was awarded the NIRSA Annual Service Award in March of 2020 for her work on the 2019 Student Lead-On Committee. Alyssa is now working as a facilities graduate assistant with Texas A&M University Recreational Sports as she works on obtaining her master’s degree in sport management.
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.
I believe that collegiate recreation plays a massive role in the overall wellness of not only students, but faculty and staff at a university as well. It serves as an outlet for the stressors of school and work and is a place where people from all different walks of life can meet and share one commonality. The diversity of campus recreation plays a large role in providing overall wellness, and I wholeheartedly believe that there is something in campus recreation for everyone to enjoy, whether it be exercising, going on outdoor adventures, or participating in an array of intramural/extramural sports. It is a place where students can meet and develop friendships with others who have similar interests that they may not have met otherwise. Due to its diverse activities and social opportunities, I believe that campus recreation is beneficial for not only one’s physical wellness, but their mental and social wellness as well.
Working in campus recreation is also incredibly beneficial to a student’s development and success. My personal testimony is a great example of this. When I initially started college as an undergraduate, I had a hard time adjusting to the transition from high school to higher education. This caused me to have a rough bout of anxiety and depression, and I also had a hard time making friends. I felt that I was spiraling downward and I didn’t feel like I belonged where I was. My second semester, I decided to start participating in activities at the student recreation center and found like-minded people to surround myself with. I began playing intramurals, utilizing the weight room, and joining group fitness classes. Suddenly, things began to get better.
My anxiety and depression faded, and my physical health also began to improve, along with my grades. Shortly after, I decided to apply for a facility attendant position at the student recreation center. In the years that I worked in campus recreation as an undergraduate, I gained transferable skills that will help me for years to come. My confidence grew exponentially, I learned how to be a leader among my peers, how to communicate efficiently, how to handle conflict, and so much more. I was taught how to build a functional resume and was given opportunities to sit on interview panels and have mock interviews. I also discovered that the professional staff really cared about me and my coworkers and wanted to ensure that we had the tools we needed to be successful. This is one very prominent reason as to why I aspire to be a campus recreation professional. I want to help future students succeed the way that my professional staff helped me.
My experience in NIRSA has also tremendously impacted my development in a positive way. In addition to learning as a conference attendee and NIRSA member, I have had the opportunity to see how planning and implementing a key portion of a NIRSA conference is done and have learned how to be a part of a long-distance planning committee. Collectively, these experiences have developed me as a future professional and a person, and I strongly believe that I would not be who I am today if campus recreation had not provided me with such powerful developmental opportunities and support.
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?
We are currently living in unprecedented times. 2020 has brought the world and our country challenge after challenge, and students are no exception. Our students are juggling a school year that is like no other. We are facing a pandemic, political unrest, civil rights issues, and much more. I have seen firsthand how the stressors of our current situation has affected students. Coursework is a challenge as classes are moved into online and hybrid offerings, there is a fear of illness and family members getting sick, financial stress, lack of opportunity for being able to socialize, and an emotional and mental toll that is being put on students across the nation. Students are concerned for their futures and are struggling with the “new normal.” This is a lot for anyone to handle, and when you add these issues with coursework and the possibility of being away from home, it can be overwhelming. Now more than ever, out students’ voices must be heard and we must offer our support.
If selected to serve as the NIRSA Region IV Student Leader, I would urge students to use their voices. I believe that implementing a system for students to voice their concerns over recent events or any area that they are unsure of and then hosting an online session about these topics would be helpful. I would send a monthly Google form or email to the students of Region IV asking about their concerns and if there are any topic areas that they would like to learn more about or understand better. I would then select the most requested topic each month and try to find a professional or expert in that specific area to host a Zoom meeting to discuss the topic with a question and answer session. In addition to that, I would ask the students of Region IV what they would like to see done in the region and if there are any other areas of concern that they may have. After all, we cannot adequately serve the students of NIRSA until we listen to their needs.
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.
I joined NIRSA in 2018 and the Annual Conference in Denver that year was my first NIRSA conference experience. This conference truly solidified my decision to pursue campus recreation and involvement in NIRSA. Two months later, Region IV Student Lead-On applications were posted, and I jumped at the opportunity to be more involved in this organization. I was selected to be on the committee and aided the Region IV Student Leader and Texas Student leader with the planning of the 2018 Region IV Conference Student Lead-On and student social, as well as “Talk to a Pro” and “Talk to a GA” panels.
In 2019, I was eager to continue volunteering for the association and applied for the Texas Student Leader position as well as the Region IV Student Lead-On Committee co-chair position. I was selected for both positions for the 2019 service year and served heavily at the 2019 Region IV Conference, working alongside the Region IV Student Leader. We planned and lead the student preconference session along with our committee, set up and monitored the student lounge, set up a free headshot session for NIRSA students, and planned “Talk to a Pro” and “Talk to a GA” panels while also adding a “Talk to a Student Leader” panel which I also served on.
In addition, I also attended each Conference Planning Committee meeting. This was a different conference experience for me as I was more involved with the inside planning and implementation of the conference rather than solely an attendee. I learned quite a bit about how to plan and implement a conference and its programs in this experience. Additionally, I received the NIRSA Annual Service Award in March of 2020 for my work on the 2019 Region IV Student Lead-On Committee.
My time spent in these different positions has given me the opportunity to learn how to serve the students of NIRSA. My primary goal is to not only serve as an advocate for the students of NIRSA, but to aid each student in achieving their goals through providing developmental opportunities such as online learning sessions.
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 worked in numerous areas of campus recreation since 2016 and had previous experience in city recreation before that. I currently work in facilities, but have also gained skills working in aquatics, marketing, youth programming, and special event management. The variety of experiences that I have had in these areas will aid me in connecting with students in NIRSA from these different backgrounds. In addition, I can now bring the perspective of a student who has been involved in campus recreation at a small university as well as a larger university. I completed my undergraduate degree at a university with an enrollment of around 13,000 students and am now obtaining my master’s degree at Texas A&M University, a substantially large university. Each experience is different, and I believe that I could be a resource for students who may be going through a similar transition.
Additionally, I am a testament to how time spent as a NIRSA member and volunteering with NIRSA can aid in the development of a student. I would use my story to encourage student members to take the leap to apply for student leadership positions. I would also continue to use the “Talk to a Student Leader” programs so students could gain an understanding of all student leadership positions, including the state and regional levels, committee positions, and NIRSA Assembly positions. Hearing this information firsthand and having the opportunity to ask questions directly may be a helpful option in comparison to a position description online or on paper.