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 a very important one. The word of the year for me in recreation has been wellness. As a graduate student who attended a top public university for my undergraduate degree, I am now in a very competitive graduate program and I have found that wellness constantly needs to be at the forefront of our minds as recreation professionals in the high stress institutions of higher education. Our students are becoming exponentially more stressed and dealing with mental health crisis on a more regular basis. The services we provide in our field have to be directly targeted at combating this growing issue in higher education.
To me, the aspects of recreation that are most effective in the wellness of students in higher education include, but are not limited to: the competitive nature of intramural and club teams that aid in community building and a healthy competitive spirit; mental and physical services of fitness that span from calming mind clearing yoga to high intensity workouts that occupy the active student; and facility availability for the non-traditional student.
All of these activities have had a direct impact on my life and development as a young adult in collegiate recreation. I gained friends and a sense of community and support from my club team and gained friends over the years through intramural sports. I have worked on my flexibility in scheduling and of my body through the occasional yoga and activity-based class. Lastly, as a student with stressful hours late at night or early morning facility hours provided me with a safe place to study, relax, or of course exercise. All of these activities helped decrease my mental stress and help grow my overall wellbeing, which is not only important to my development but to the development of many students in higher education.
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?
I believe that one of the pillars of the NIRSA Strategic Plan is the evolution of the brand identity of recreation on our campuses. Much too often we hear our facilities referred to as a GYM but everyone in our profession knows that we are much more than dumbbells and treadmills. Our brand is not the gym but a unique safe space on campus where the dimensions of wellbeing are constantly at the forefront. Our brand should include not only physical wellbeing but financial, intellectual, emotional, spiritual, social, and cultural wellbeing.
Our brand should be a partner on campus to clubs, cultural groups, transfer students, non-traditional students, international students, and anyone else who is looking for a place to belong and receive help when it is asked for. Recreation should not be a silo on campus but a symbol of what our campus community can be and should strive to be.
I argue that brand identity is a student issue because those groups of students in underserved populations are rarely aware of the services that out departments provide. For example, at UCLA the Muslim groups on campus utilize the multi-purpose facilities for their Friday Prayer. I am sure that on many campuses across our nation groups who feel alienated do not know that they can work with our departments to better their situation. It doesn’t stop there. They might not know about our camps that could be used for non-traditional students with children or how outdoor programs often offers team building for other departments or groups on campus.
Brand identity is a student issue because if we are seen only as the gym, then our programs designed to help all students are not being used to their full potential. As an MBA student who is taking courses on marketing, strategic marketing, and marketing analytics I believe that I can help students and institutions take these ideas back to their campuses to help them grow their individual brand identities which will over time help the brand identity of our profession and organization as a whole.
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.
Since I became a NIRSA member, I have constantly strived to be more involved with every opportunity that I have been presented. I believe that the NIRSA Annual Conference in Boston last year was amazing as an undergraduate who knew I wanted to pursue a career in this field. Being able to attend the J. Michael Dunn pre-conference for students gave me an amazing experience of learning what was ahead of me as an incoming graduate assistant as well as learning about the career paths of many amazing Director level professionals. The leadership aspects of the pre-conference as well as the bonds I made with fellow students was immeasurably valuable. If I was selected for this position as a NIRSA Regional Student Leader I would be so excited to be a vital part of the planning and execution of that aspect of the conference.
Now as a graduate assistant, a leader in my program but also still as a learner I was excited to attend the Region VI Conference in Salt Lake City this past month. At the conference I was afforded the ability to speak on my first panel regarding my experience as a first-year graduate assistant, I spoke on the transitional process that goes along with moving states, schools, and degree programs. I also volunteered at the conference registration table allowing me to greet all the conference participants and vendors. This gave me a new perspective and the joy of welcoming those who came to learn and interact with our organization. I very much enjoy volunteering and would recommend it to as many students as I could because it was great for me to make new connections and give back to the organization.
I am a huge fan of all the presentations at conferences and always find something to bring back to my campus and program. I wish to one day soon be able to give a presentation at a conference as I enjoy public speaking and believe it to be one of my strongest qualities as a young leader. I want to continue to grow my leadership qualities in the position of NIRSA Regional Student Leader and believe that what I have learned so far and what I can continue to learn would make me a great student leader.
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 looked up to my regional student leaders as role models who I can admire and use as a resource in NIRSA. I would continue this legacy by doing everything in my power to be a positive role model and leader for all the students in our region. I will constantly encourage the students in our region to continue to be involved and engaged with our organization and to keep an open mind to new lessons and perspectives. When I speak about our organization, I do so passionately and this passion I have will carry over to everyone I speak with. I will be a responsible, passionate, reasonable, and respectable student leader which will directly relate to my ability to recruit and continuously engage already active members of our student community.
When it comes to the retention of students, I believe that my skill of value creation will allow me to show students how vital the NIRSA organization and its resources are to students. By reinforcing these positive aspects of the organization i will help create a positive feedback loop that will re-engage the students and want them to keep coming back to our events and continuously engaging in our programs.
As a mentee in the NIRSA mentorship program, I have been able to be a part of one of the NIRSA student initiatives that is key to the retention of students. By providing mentors in our profession students are engaged and begin to build a community outside of their campus. My NIRSA mentor Amanda Deml has been a strong base for my community building outside of those on my campus and I believe that for many students their mentors have a similar role that makes them want to keep meeting new professionals and extend their community through networking.
The Student Lead On and J. Michael Dunn pre-conference events are also important for retention as students get a chance to network with students from other schools as well as are able to learn and interact with professionals. These types of events would be key as the student leader for me as those events made me want to come back and participate again.
Lastly, I will succeed in promoting student development by continuing to share my experiences in our profession and use my skills and stories to inspire and teach students. I am forever a learner so I hope to be able to engage with students in such a way that I will learn just as much as I am able to teach. To me sharing experiences and having shared experiences are the best ways to make bonds and connections that will last longer than the span of a conference. I will use what I have learned so far to make a lasting impact on all the students that I meet and have the pleasure of learning from as the NIRSA Region VI Student Leader.