The path to the CSSA program was not a linear one for me, and with this WordPress website, I will try to make meaning of my experiences both before, and during the CSSA program, while also looking toward the future. Upon entering my final fall term of undergrad, I was ready for something new. I was working for the Memorial Union Design Studio at OSU in a student job that involved taking the lead on video production, creating social media content, and developing digital communication assets for a wide variety of clients in higher education, distributed across multiple media platforms, reaching a wide variety of audiences. I knew that I wanted to continue to work in the creative field. I started playing the saxophone in elementary school, and have had a creative hobby ever since (jazz band, drums, recording music auditions, digital music production, etc.). After a couple years of working in the space of Student Affairs and College Administration, and having a chance to work with CSSA graduate students and their supervisors, I realized my passion for producing college events (leadership conference, student panels, student club involvement), and creative background would likely be a good fit for a career in higher education administration.
My transition from undergraduate student, to aspiring Student Affairs professional is something like what has been outlined by Patrick Love (2012) in the following passage:
Student affairs professionals begin their journey as student development theoreticians with their experience as college students. For example, Mary goes away to school, makes friends, and a month later is feeling homesick and wondering if the people she identified as friends are really friends. This causes her significant stress and anxiety and puts a strain on her relationships, which, with the help of her resident advisor (RA), gets worked out during the rest of the semester. The next year Mary is selected to be an RA. (p. 178)
While I have not worked in housing before, my undergraduate student experience greatly informed my journey toward becoming a professional in Student Affairs. I started undergrad at 24, building my professional experiences through both working and attending community college part time, where I completed a certificate in hospitality management (2009). Connecting my past attendance of 3 community colleges, my late start of an undergraduate degree to my work experience in higher education event planning and digital communication production, I figured that I had a solid start to a career in higher education. If this was not enough to make the path clear, I was also a NUFP Scholar (NASPA Undergraduate Fellowship Program), with Kim McAloney as my mentor (her Major Professor in the CSSA program being the same as my own, Dr. Larry Roper), and was fortunate to take a course entitled Exploration of Higher Education, a professional development course, providing students with a crash course in student development theories, program and functions, and what it means to be a practitioner-scholar/ scholar-practitioner.
Thus, I ultimately applied to the CSSA program. Well, at least I tried to apply. The CSSA program changed colleges, moving from the College of Education to the College of Liberal Arts, and during the process there was a period that admission was suspended — luckily for me (and for the current & future CSSA students) the program reopened for admissions, and I could apply, and thankfully I got accepted and was admitted to the program.
Shortly after I learned that I got into the CSSA master’s program, I started working a temporary job with the Memorial Union Design Studio that involved more hours, and responsibility — the Memorial Union was foundational to my professional experiences in digital communication and student services administration. That summer I was hired to produce video for the Division of Student Affairs, outlining the new strategic planning development process, with the Vice Provost of Student Affairs at the time (Susie Brubaker-Cole) being the client, I learned so much about what Student Affairs is in the professional context of a college or university. I started fall term hitting the ground running, after gaining a last-minute graduate assistantship, in the newly created Office of Communications and Marketing for the Division of Student Affairs, that fall term of 2015 was brutal, long hours, a firehose of student affairs acronyms, theories, and professional standards — it was also fun, motivating, comforting, and energizing to learn from higher education professionals working in a diverse array of fields, sharing spaces with an amazing cohort, from diverse backgrounds. I was a graduate student, and ready to continue, eventually towards a PhD (the hope), or similarly robust career in higher education, wherever the road takes me. Graduate education been a goal of mine since I started undergrad, as I was introduced to countless ways to explore the wonderfully vast, complex, and intriguing world of academic scholarship — my mind was literally in awe of the innovation, and the creativity that awaits exploration by focused scholarship. Thank you for reading my portfolio, now that you know a bit more about my journey, I’ll describe the core competencies and values in the CSSA program, providing evidence of my competency in those areas, while reflecting on my experiences. I’m fortunate to be writing this essay nearing the completion of my master’s degree, and with this introductory note, I invite you to learn more about my journey in higher education and student affairs, through my coursework, scholarship, internships, projects, assistantship, and professional work experiences acquired while in the CSSA program.
Love, P. (2012). Informal Theory: The Ignored Link in Theory-to-Practice. Journal of College Student Development 53(2), 177-191. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Retrieved January 22, 2018, from Project MUSE database. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/csd.2012.0018