This I Believe

My graduate school advisor has a giant book collection and loves to read. He would assign all types of articles for his first semester course, and now I can say I’m grateful I spent the time to actually read the articles. In a particularly difficult time in the first year of graduate school, he suggested I read the book This I Believe. My initial reaction was yeah right! I was feeling overwhelmed with all the reading I was already assigned. However, I love to read and perhaps this was I sign I needed to read for pleasure.

Each night I would read a short essay from the book before bed. The essays are typically a page or two long and are statements from the author clearly written from the heart.  Some authors are famous and others are not.  I started to reflect on what I would write for a statement, and began to realize my entire graduate portfolio was a compellation of This I Believe statements. My advisor impacted me in many ways throughout my graduate experience, but this was one simple tool for reflection and guidance.

I needed to find a way to weave this into my work with students. I started to use the book with my returning peer mentor staff during trainings. I would choose different statements and we would go around in a circle and take turns reading. Some weeks we discussed other weeks we did not. At the end of the semester each student wrote their own statement. Each one was unique and they spanned from a student talking about a heart transplant to finding simple joys in life and an international perspective. The activity had a powerful impact on the students and myself.

This assistantship was one of my most favorite jobs. It did not feel like work (though many hours were involved). It felt like something bigger and more meaningful. Leaving the students and that office was extremely difficult.

Last Thursday I received a wonderful gift in the mail.  The returning student staff I worked with sent me a book they created with this year’s peer mentors. They had the entire staff write This I Believe Statements, and each one was heartfelt. I felt extremely moved to receive a copy of what I can guarantee was an empowering and thought provoking student experience. 

If you are looking for an inspiring activity to have your students complete I would suggest This I Believe statements. If you are personally trying to find a way to continue reflecting after graduate school or to refresh yourself in your position write your own statement.

What would be in your statement? Maybe I will share mine here someday. To find out more about the This I Believe series and read others statements visit

Stefanie Lucas-Waverly


Student Affairs - the First Years

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