I am a firm believer that happiness is a decision we can make every day regardless of our circumstances, good or bad. At first, pursuing a career in student affairs was all about how much enjoyment and satisfaction my co-curricular experiences brought me in college. Because of my involvement in student government, leadership programming, student conduct, and especially welcome week I discovered talents and passions I never believed I had. Without these experiences outside of the classroom, I would have continued on a path that did not bring me much satisfaction. Not everyone’s college involvement should lead them to student affairs and may not even change the course of their future like mine did, but I have seen the self-discovery and confidence of those who do more than the basic requirements and expectations of college. This fulfillment comes from engaging on campus and in the community.
Before I started graduate school, I did not have a lens or language with which to explain the benefits of college engagement. I only had my personal and overly school-spirited experiences to recommend to people. The opportunities I have had working in The University of Southern California’s Sexual Assault Resource Office and Office of Campus Activities have introduced me to a variety of student experiences. These interactions were eye opening and incredible in reinforcing my motivation to pursue specifically campus programming and engagement. The way my undergraduate student affairs mentors advised me and helped me think through problems set the stage for me to be open to discussions about privilege and equity and to program with the needs of any and all students in mind. Discussions in many of my graduate courses provided arenas to hear about the many collegiate journeys of my classmates and the diverse student population we serve in the Los Angeles area. More so than ever before, I am open to discussion and open to listening and taking interest in the diverse backgrounds and perspectives of others. This has improved my ability to be considerate of all student populations when executing an event or planning curriculum for a program. In my career counseling course I have learned how to be an advisor to students. Living up to being the positive role model that I appreciated as an undergraduate student is not going to be enough for most of the students enrolled in colleges today. I now have the tools to be an accessible and effective resource for students, no matter what led them to my office.
Student affairs is also perfectly in line with my belief system. My graduate program has helped me realize that this is a service profession, that we are educators serving the needs of our students. Before coming to graduate school, I was a full-time missionary in Korea and taught healthy lifestyles and principles for a happy home life. This solidified my desire to go into student affairs to serve students. I want every college student to have a college experience that was as exciting and fulfilling as mine. College is not a time to just go to class and “get by.” Even if there is no flexibility in a program’s coursework for fun classes, there are always opportunities to get involved and to find or create a community on campus. The leadership experiences and relationships developed in student clubs, in service organizations, and at events help students make meaning of their college classes and set them on a course for the rest of their lives.
I believe in choosing to be happy. I believe in the valuable experiences and connections of campus involvement. I believe in serving people. These beliefs drive me to work hard for my students and the programs that can change their lives.