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.
Going to college was a big deal since I am a first-generation scholar. I did my undergraduate degree at Colorado State University (CSU) studying health and exercise science with a concentration in health promotion and minoring in criminal justice. During my college career I have worked at Colorado State Campus Recreation and have held seven different roles in the aquatics & facilities areas. At the start of my senior year, the Aquatics Program Coordinator at Colorado State Campus Recreation left. In the midst of all this change, I was offered a role to manage the day-to-day operations for the aquatics program. I was asked to help with several administrative duties such as being the main daily contact for all aquatic needs, planning new employee onboarding, developing and leading student staff meetings and training, managing employee safety certifications for compliance organization, the American Red Cross program, evaluating swim lesson program, and overseeing pool operations plan. This was the most meaningful leadership position I have held during my undergraduate career and I was so excited for the opportunity to manage an aquatics program.
During my campus recreation career as a student, I was also able to obtain my Certified Pool Operator certification, Connect2 Champion certification, Connect2 C2IT specialist certification, and all possible American Red Cross Instructor certifications. In addition to those wonderful opportunities, my two-year graduate program goal is to obtain more advanced certifications such as the American Red Cross Instructor Trainer certifications for Lifeguarding and Water Safety Instructors. All the opportunities and certifications I have/will obtain are due to professional development opportunities or student staff development funds. Both Colorado State University Campus Recreation and Boise State University Campus Recreation invested in my future by providing me advanced certifications, virtual training, and transferable skills that I am utilizing in my day-to-day life.
My master’s degree is in public health, prevention, & intervention programming. My intent for choosing this amazing graduate program is to utilize the skills that I learn and start implementing proactive measures into my day-to-day work. These measures will help individuals improve their quality of life by participating in campus recreation programs or drop-in options. After I finish my graduate degree, I would love to pursue a career in collegiate recreation specializing in aquatics. This will allow me to continue to create an environment for campus recreation users to feel welcome when they step inside the facility.
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, the area/item I would say that is a major issue students face today is mental health and the lack of guidance to seek help. This could be categorized in the “Health & Wellbeing” strategic plan values. Many students enjoy visiting the campus recreation center and utilizing the amenities there. Not only does it allow students to promote physical change, but they also can find some stress relief and develop support systems. In my experience in campus recreation, my closest friends I have met during my undergraduate program are the student staff I was able to work with. Not only would I see them at work, I would often invite them to hang out, do homework together, and if I was working out and they were working, I would make efforts to chat with them briefly.
Additionally, while serving in the highest student staff position at Colorado State University I was able to get close with my coworkers and at times I would worry about their mental health. For example, one of my coworkers was a rock star and never missed a shift. But one day that coworker missed their shift with no explanation. I personally reached out because I knew it was not a normal behavior for them. Later that week I was able to talk to that coworker. I realized that they are working three different jobs (70 hours a week) and going to school full time so they can have enough money to pay for rent and school. At that time, I did not know what to say to that student because it is the “norm” to always be tired, drink large cups of coffee all day, and to sleep less than six hours a night. Later that semester, with the stress of school and working, that coworker dropped out with only 12 credits left till graduation. If more collaborations with on-campus partners promoted more positive ways to deal with stress and provide resources so some students don’t have to work a ridiculous amount of hours and balance school for their entire college career. Coming to college is more than just getting a degree. It’s about making lasting friendships, networking, and learning more.
I would personally start implementing innovative strategies to promote mental health resources that are provided on campus. This would allow me to use preexisting materials that are on campus and have them partner with the campus recreation center. Virtual webinars and in-person programs would be welcomed so anyone could join. Joyce Sunada once said, “If you do not make time for your wellness, you will be forced to make time for your illness.” This is where I have continued studying health promotion in my graduate studies. Prevention and intervention are vital in improving the quality of life for all in many ways. I have personally seen friendships and relationships blossom because of intervention programs. My future hopes are to help future recreation members find their purpose in staying fit. Even if it’s their first day stepping inside the facility or their 1000th day, I want to provide a legendary experience that makes them want to come back.
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.
During my undergraduate college career, I worked at Colorado State University Campus Recreation and held seven different roles in the aquatics & facilities areas. I believed that in order to grow I needed to get out of my comfort zone of aquatics and explore other opportunities in campus recreation. That mindset allowed me to make more lifelong friends, increased my networking opportunities, enhanced my soft skills, and I even got asked to help assist in the aquatics coordinator role. Even though I was serving in the highest student staff (recreation supervisor) role, I still took on the challenge of taking over the day-to-day operations of an aquatics center. The more that I was involved in the aquatics role, the more I was able to grow a deeper passion for campus recreation. I wanted more students on campus to be involved with the best place on campus (BPOC). The term BPOC is used to promote Colorado State Campus Recreation. I purchased my student membership for NIRSA and started watching roundtable talks, participating in webinars, and started networking. I even applied for the student 2020 NIRSA Annual Conference & Campus Rec and Wellness Expo scholarship and was selected to be a recipient.
While transitioning to graduate school and serving as the Boise State University Campus Recreation Aquatics & Safety Graduate Assistant my passion for NIRSA continued. Due to COVID-19, the aquatics area was not allowed to do the same amount of programming as in the past. So I started utilizing my Connect2 Concepts skills and began to enhance the organization and documentation for the facilities operations areas. Also, the Facilities Operation Coordinator left towards the fall semester, so I stepped up and helped manage a group of their staff members. Some of the campus recreation internal communities I joined were the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Committee and the Risk Management Committee. I even reached out to Idaho’s Red Cross Chapter to be a chapter member in their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Chapter.
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 have the opportunity to leave a lasting impact on the field of collegiate recreation. My goal is to have my name and impact known across the NIRSA family. I personally believe that no matter what position one choses in campus recreation they will be able to take away a lot more than just a paycheck. In other words, I was able to develop my soft skills such as emotional intelligence when talking to patrons and staff, developing a team player attitude when it was time to clean, and lastly becoming adaptable in these unpredictable times.
With the focus on student member recruitment & retention and student development, I believe we need to help students find their “Why.” Going to college was a big deal since I am a first-generation scholar. I wanted to feel welcomed and like I belonged so when I started using the campus recreation facility I knew this was the place I wanted to be. The culture of a campus recreation center brings me joy because I am surrounded by like-minded workers that are there to help others grow, stay safe, and even have some fun. Once I realized I finally had a “home” on campus, I have strived for others that may have a hard time adjusting to college life to find a job at campus recreation. Fast forward to this day and I have inspired other student workers to become more involved in NIRSA. The power of collegiate rec allows for friendships to grow with everyone you meet and it does start to feel like family. By having that mind set, I will use my skills and talents to promote more students to join NIRSA.