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.
“No student should be deprived of his or her opportunity for participation in recreational experiences which may contribute more than we know to a long and happy and normal life.” These words were spoken by Louis Edgar Means and while this statement was quoted several decades ago, I believe that it still holds true today and creates a basis for my personal views on the role and contributions of collegiate recreation. Collegiate recreation plays a vital role in campus communities by offering different programs and services to all individuals striving to promote a diverse and inclusive culture. Many of these programs help to serve as an outlet for stress during students’ time in school. Collegiate recreation looks to provide opportunities and meet the needs of all populations within campus communities ensuring that all students are served. While many times people often think that the only individuals benefitting from collegiate recreation are the participants, the student employees are also able to benefit from the many student development aspects within collegiate recreation which ultimately aid in their future professional endeavors.
For me, collegiate recreation has had a huge impact on my personal development by giving me the opportunity to take lead and initiatives on new ideas and projects. At the University of Houston, I have created incentive programs for students to get involved in all entities of recreation as well as to help the students create relationships that can carry over into their day-to-day positions. This incentive program has allowed the opportunity for higher staff morale throughout the facility which in turn assists with continuous positive interactions with the patrons that we serve. In addition, the impact collegiate recreation has had on me has allowed me to challenge myself by making tough decisions that can have an effect both on the facility as well as all students. While these decisions may be tough at time they are necessary to help to ensure policies are implemented and enforced appropriately. Being in the position to make these decisions has helped in personal development as well as creating relationships amongst the staff within my university. My time within collegiate recreation has bettered me as an individual and I look forward to all of the opportunities I have to pay it forward to young professionals for years to come.
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.
My time within NIRSA has allowed me to work in several different facets within campus recreation and in universities and regions throughout the entire nation. All of these entities have helped me create a network of professionals throughout NIRSA to serve as mentors as well as friends. During my undergrad, I began my journey in NIRSA attending different conferences where I was first introduced to the importance of networking and professional relationship building. Becoming aware of these important opportunities I was influenced to become a part of the NIRSA Mentoring Program where I have been able to learn from two incredible mentors within the NIRSA community. I have been able to learn the value of relationships within collegiate recreation and in turn have started to serve as a mentor to other students. While at conferences we provide the opportunity for individuals to participate in the ‘Take a Student to Lunch’ program, I have continued to do this for students at my own universities. I understand that it isn’t necessary to be in a career staff role in order to make a difference in student’s lives and to help develop them and guide them into becoming successful professionals within the collegiate recreation community.
Within my time in collegiate recreation I have also had the opportunity to be a part of a committee for the 2015 Region II Basketball Tournament at the University of Central Florida. This was my first look at seeing what a NIRSA tournament looked like as well as all of the planning and work that goes into such a tournament. During this tournament, I was able to collaborate with professionals from other universities to ensure that all operations of the tournament would run smoothly.
While a majority of my focus throughout campus recreation has centered around facilities and operations, I have also been able to work in a competitive sports program during a summer internship at the University of California, Los Angeles. Being in this new program area I was challenged with developing a new set of skills that would help me be successful while also ensuring a successful program. Working in this new program area helped me develop confidence within myself that I could essentially do anything I set my mind to.
My experiences within NIRSA and serving the students of collegiate recreation have helped get me to where I am today in my professional career. All that I have accomplished during my time in NIRSA have been a result of someone influencing me and believing in me. It has now come to a time where I believe in myself and strive to make that same lasting impact on other student members within NIRSA.
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?
“NIRSA is a leader in higher education and the advocate for the advancement of recreation, sport, and wellness by providing educational and developmental opportunities, generating and sharing knowledge, and promoting networking and growth for our members.” These words, being the NIRSA Mission Statement, hold so much truth and value. The ultimate goal of NIRSA is to help educate and develop students for success within their professional careers. By this being our mission it is vital that we are providing all opportunities for students to have these advancements and opportunities for growth and networking.
A way that we could assist in providing direct educational opportunities for students would be to establish a summer retreat where students from all regions could gather for a certain amount of days and have the entire focus be solely on them. During this retreat student would be able to learn from well-respected professionals in the NIRSA community and begin to establish those life-long relationships within NIRSA. This retreat could be used to help students collaborate with members from other universities and formulate ideas and skills that they could take back to their own schools. This would also provide developmental opportunities for students such as allowing each of them to create a presentation that they could perform for their peers, and following each presentation get feedback from many professionals in the community. Following the retreat, many of these students could take these presentations and use them as proposals for their own regional conferences or at the NIRSA Annual Conference.
As NIRSA is continuously evolving, it is important that we as members and professionals continue to provide opportunities for students and set them up for success as they enter into their own professional careers. By promoting and providing new and innovative opportunities for students we can help to ensure that each student is served effectively and in turn create a new generation of successful NIRSA leaders for futures to come.