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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fishin' in the Sea of University...

The life of a Student Affairs professional is one that is ever changing. Whether it's a new position at a fabulous new institution in a land far, far, away from where we once used to live, the change in duties, or the change of the landscape - i.e. Construction!

One thing remains constant. The influx of wide-eyed freshmen.

I have to admit. The excitement they bring makes me excited! I guess it also helps that I work in leadership development - it's almost like I'm deep sea fishing for a marlin. Every year in my position, I cast out my reel. I send out notifications to students in our housing program about a great leadership opportunity. Students can apply to participate in this program that will not only help them develop as a leader at our university but will also give them a jump start in getting settled into their new environment because they are able to move in a week early. It's obviously geared toward the wide-eyed variety of student.

I get first view of these students in my fish finder. I see them interact within "schools", teams, and individually during this program. It's funny, because a lot of times I catch certain ones trying to impress me - thinking they'll get a better chance at becoming an RA, Student Government Senator, or RHA. Sometimes they're right! HA! That's that flashy type of fish.

It's amazing what these students are capable of. They come with many talents and sometimes it's unbeknownst to them what talents they have. Sure, they were told they could do just about anything if they put their mind to it, and you know what? They can. Think "The Incredible Mr. Limpet".

There is a student of mine from last year who had a rocky start. He was also a member of my wide-eyed group - this student's eyes are about as wide as one of those crazy lookin' monkeys you see on the Discovery Channel(ahhh.. yes, a Bush Baby!). He is a talented artist/graphic designer and was just ecstatic about getting involved. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to reel him in as I had hoped. Instead, he fell into the "let's party" school of fish and found trouble. Actually, trouble found him a couple of times too. Everyone wanted to write this student off as a lost cause and trouble maker based on what they've seen of him during his short time in campus housing. Luckily I saw a glimmer of hope in him.

I cast my fishing line out to him and with the help of our Office of Student Conduct, we "caught" him at the right time. Now I am happy to say that this student is definitely on the right track and has a clear vision of where he wants to be. At least for now - I mean, I DO keep a realistic view of my students because I've been there, done that all myself. Now he sits on RHA, Student Government, is a student worker and maintains over a 3.4 GPA!

I say all of this to point out this one idea. With a new year you can choose to focus on making your campus a better place. You can focus on helping students be better people. You can focus on yourself and how you can arrive to be the best person you can possibly be. Try to never stop having hope. Hope for yourself, for others, for the school, for the world.

As each of you cast your fishing line out to catch the "big one", remember that leaders come to us in all kinds of variety and are prize worthy no matter what size ocean they happen to be swimming in.

I'm anxiously awaiting the next bite.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

My Inaugural Post

I came up with a wild idea this morning. To develop a blog about my life in the field of Student Affairs. I'm not sure how many people actually have done this. I've seen some people blog to entire listervs. I've seen others just talk about their experiences in personal blogs (I'm guilty of that too) that include their love life, family and random other discussions.

This blog is unique. I even "googled" the idea to see what else is out there. There were quite a few college and university sponsored blogs geared to the field as well as "for profit" websites. This particular blog is coming from big ol' me.

I thought it would be a cool thing to write about my experiences in the world of Student Affairs. It's amazing how I've been intertwined into the threads that make up the blanket that keep each of us cozy, warm and fuzzy as we work with college-aged students - especially considering the cold start I had.

I chose the blog name "The Real World of Maslow" because his theory is one of the more heavily mentioned. To become a self-actualized individual is what he says we strive to be. I also chose it because I wanted something that would reference college students - so naturally MTV's "The Real World" came to mind. We work with these students just about everyday. We see the highs and lows and when life starts getting "real" with them and stop being polite. We strive to help the ones we REALLY connect with to be self-actualized individuals even while we're often not so sure if we've reached that pinnacle ourselves.

Each week I will strive to enter a grain of my experience into this blog. It's my hope that graduate students and new professionals read this and either learn from my mistakes or improve on my successes. It is also my hope that instructors in our field and other colleagues provide their own grains as we all come together.

The first few postings will be from previous posts I've made on one of the aforementioned types of blogs.

With that said and it being nearly 12:30 AM - I can retire to my bed knowing that I've gotten this nugget of an idea up and running.

Until then...

Dennis M. Hicks