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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.

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