Feeling the SA Love

By: Christina Ferrari

As my first year of graduate school comes to a close and I prepare for my summer internship, I find myself in a very reflective state. One theme this year that I have experienced (and there are many) is how this field loves to “pay it forward”. I have been awed and inspired by the numerous student affairs professionals, mostly in Director or senior-level positions, that have been so willing to offer their support and mentorship to me this year. They’ve bought me coffee at a conference or allowed me to invade their office and ask questions about their experiences in the field. They have introduced me to colleagues, offered resume techniques or bits of advice and when I thank them, I get a response that goes something like this, “Oh Christina, it’s a pleasure and no problem at all. I’m just doing what others have done for me over the years.”

I don’t know if this in consistent with other fields, but one of the things I love most about this profession is how it feels like one big, talented, and busy family. Everyone wants to help each other, and be there for one another, especially the young grasshoppers embarking on their student affairs career. At NASPA in Orlando I really felt this and the pride I felt to be joining this family was pretty overwhelming. This year I’ve also had fleeting moments of when the roles had been reversed and an undergraduate student told me she’s applying to be a NUFP Fellow and/or thinking about a career in higher education. I have to restrain myself from wanting to jump up, give them a giant hug, and say “YESSS!! Do it! You would be amazing in the field!” I’d like to think that’s how these professionals feel when they see me or another new professional. If I had to thank everyone who has given me an “aha” moment or influenced my development thus far, it would feel a lot like the awards speech at the Oscars where they play the music try and cut you off because there are just so many people to thank. I sincerely hope that these relationships flourish over time and I can make my fellow student affairs family members proud.

For those of you who are starting out in the field, how have fellow professionals supported and shaped you? More seasoned professionals, do you reach out to new professionals or make yourselves available for them to seek your advice and support?

Student Affairs - the First Years

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