My Student Affairs Tree

Two weeks ago I went back to my alma mater, Ball State University, for Homecoming and to celebrate former SAFirstYears blogger Amber Phillip’s birthday. For multiple reasons I won’t bore you with, I was terrified to go back to Muncie, IN and visit Ball State. The minute I landed in Indianapolis, however, I realized that I was right where I needed to be. I literally squealed with excitement when we landed, to the point the guy next to me gave me a terrified look.

From this moment, to the minute I got on the plane (barely in time) with tears in my eyes, I had a fabulous weekend filled with reunions, memories, laughter until I cried, and some reflection about my personal and professional life I so dearly needed. It was this trip that made me realize where I had been and where I wanted to go.

I have now lived in three places in my life, all representing different journeys of my Student Affairspath. Because I am the way I am, I happen to think of these kind of journeys in any way metaphorically that I can. This past weekend made me reflect on my educational journey and how it has impacted in my life by relating it to a tree.

Let me explain this crazy idea starting from the ground up.

I started at the University of Utah, in the same town I was born and raised. For me, the University of Utah will always serve as the roots of my life. The experiences I gained through that institution before, during, and after I was a student there will always be the foundation on which I have grown and learned from. Many ideas, plus the passion I have with working with students, stems from the experiences and lessons I learned at the University of Utah.

From the University of Utah I then went to Ball State University for graduate school. In my eyes, this serves as the trunk of my Student Affairs tree. It was here that I learned the theories behind my passion in of working with students, and the theories of the development and such of those I wanted to work with. It is because of the students I worked with, the cohort I had, the mentor that patiently worked with me, and the different environment that I worked in that I continued to grow from each and every day.

I now reside in the quirky town of Las Cruces, New Mexico and work for New Mexico State University. I see this as a branch or two of on my tree. Every experience that I have, every interaction with the marvelous students I work with, and everything I overcome in this job is a leaf. Sometimes those leaves change colors or fall off, but no matter what, the branch (i.e. my experience) continues to grow in the face of anything.

I also acknowledge that I will not be staying at NMSU for the rest of my career, and that is where I am excited to grow more branches and continue to grow in more experiences, obstacles, and opportunities. I also see additional experiences, i.e. NASPA, ACPA, etc, as more branches to grow throughout my career.

I hope this makes sense. How does your Student Affairs student affairs journey reflect growth and development?

Katie Ericson


Student Affairs - the First Years

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1 comment :

  1. What a beautiful metaphor! I do the same thing (great minds think alike eh?) and I really like to think of how my tree has grown.

    What if we think of all of Student Affairs as a forest and we are all growing with each other! So neat! It is through self-reflection that I think my journey is marked with growth and development!

    In peace,
    Ryan Bye (your Thursday buddy)


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