So I think this is the stuff that Tina and Susan have wanted me to write about all year and I’m finally getting to it – my work as a grad student at the College.
Today was our last staff meeting with our Orientation Area Directors. The OAD’s are a group of student leaders that plan Orientation from literally the moment one Orientation ends until the next August. I have had the amazingly unique opportunity to know most of these students from their freshman year. I’ve seen Charlotte and Juliette hone their love of details over the years and become some of the most highly motivated students I have had the privilege of working with. Tommy and Thomas drive me up a wall with the way they constantly challenge me in ways that I don’t expect. It’s what our students always do, they think for themselves and stand up for what they believe is right… even if it drives someone else a little bit crazy. Jay and JB are constant sources of jokes (usually at my expense) and despite the fact that our meetings are at 7:00 a.m., they always find a way to make fun of me. I can’t even express how much I appreciate it (seriously). Maurene and Karyn… these were the two I was most worried about at the beginning of the year. The guys of the group can be a bit rowdy and I wasn’t sure these ladies would put up with it. Boy was I wrong. I’m more afraid of what the two of them could do if they were to let loose… Then there’s James. He’s the rough gruff rugby player that comes off as a real tough guy. He’s taught me not to judge people too quickly, because you never know what’s underneath. Despite the tough exterior, James is one of the most deliberate students I have worked with and the thoughtfulness he puts into his work in the Dean of Students Offices impresses everyone. Finally there’s Baby Natty. He’s the lone sophomore of the group. Just because he’s young doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he’s doing. I’ve known him through Kappa Sigma and Orientation, and in both groups, which are obviously different, Natty has proven to be mature and to have a good head on his shoulders. Not to mention he’s a Hispanic Studies major, which earns points in my book.
So the point of this isn’t to boost the egos of my staff. They don’t need that, trust me. The point is to show how lucky I have been as a graduate student at the College to have the chance to work with such a diverse and talented group of students. I have friends in Higher Ed programs elsewhere and they just don’t get this kind of interaction with students. I get to work one on one with these students to not only help them plan Orientation and grow as leaders, but also to learn my own trade.
I am confident that in two weeks when I graduate, I am going to be prepared to work with any set of students because I have already worked with the most challenging students out there. No, I’m not talking about the troublesome kind of challenging, but the overly talented kind that challenge me as a practitioner to leave my comfort zone and work hard just to keep up with their ideas.
None of this would have even been possible if it weren’t for the other side of my GA position that I have. I get to work with Mark Sikes. If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t even be in this field right now. Mark let me work for him as an undergrad and as a grad student, and he is the one that has given me the opportunities to work with these students and learn the things I have. While this is normal in our program here at the College, it’s just not normal everywhere else. Everything that I will take with me into my first job, I’ve learned from Mark.
So what exactly is the point of this ramble? Well for one, I was too emotional at our meeting this morning to share these things with everyone. But really, the point is that I’m not sure if people realize just how unique and special the experiences our grad students have are. Sure, our faculty get to boast student coauthors and researchers, our Admission Deans get to brag about the new class every year, our OSVS gets to celebrate the great service that goes on through the College. But how often to grad students get to brag about our awesome students that we work with? Not very often.
These are great students, as are all the students here at the College. But the ones I get to work with are better. Just because… well because I said so.