There are days where a graduate program will seem long. With papers to write, articles to read, and the ever looming thesis or job search ahead, it can often feel like your world is a long series of checklists and “ok what’s next.” But, there will also be things that happen throughout your time in the program that will be completely unexpected, wonderful, and remind you of why you’re there.
One such moment happened to me this last week. As a part of the Higher Education and Student Affairs program, masters students are required to have a position on campus working in student affairs to connect and practice those responsible skills learned in class in a professional setting. I have the opportunity to work as a Graduate Supervisor for Residential Programs and Services (RPS). Within this position, I get to work with 20 incredible undergraduate student leaders who serve as Resident Assistants (RAs) within the Residence Hall. One particular RA and I had the opportunity to discuss how they worked with their floor during a difficult situation.
Throughout this last week, many members of the floor community had reported to the RA that they had been woken up at all hours of the morning by their neighbors or other members of the floor being loud. With this happening, it has been difficult for anyone to get a full nights sleep, which has been impacting their ability to attend class, study, and be successful overall in their college experience. In an attempt to discuss this issue with the floor, the RA scheduled a floor meeting early in the morning to demonstrate what it was like for all members of the community to be woken up. While there were several members of the community missing, a majority of the floor was present at this meeting. Instead of lecturing the students on their behavior, she had them complete a “Crossing the Line” activity. in this activity they began by having them step forward if they agreed with simpler statments such as “I had a good week.” Then, they moved in tougher questions, ending with “Step forward if you have been hurt or wronged by someone on this floor.” To this question, everyone in the meeting stepped forward. They followed up with “How many of you have talked to the person who has wronged you?” To this, only a couple people stepped forward.
This was a powerful moment for the folks in the community. The RA was able to then lead them through a conversation about how to speak with their peers about their experiences, and to encourage them to speak with those around them. After the close of the meeting, a student came up to them and said “Thank you for this. I didn’t feel comfortable telling people what I was feeling, but now I know I can.”
Moments like this are why I wanted to work in higher education. And, being able to see an RA accomplish something like that is even better. The transition from student to supervisor is one that is always difficult, and brings about its own challenges. Seeing someone who you are about and have invested time in preparing them to be successful accomplish something so great is almost transformational. It make you realize how much you can do, how much others can do, and shows the greatness of what student affairs is all about: students achieving things that they never thought they could do .
While many of the days and weeks of a graduate program may be difficult, and you may feel like things are daunting, there will always be situations that remind you of why you put in all the work. With the that, I hope all of you are able to find something that reminds you of why you are here.