"Giving Back To Our Institutions"

By Luis Garay

I really wanted to name this piece "Giving Back To Our Institutions (Or, I'll Always Be A Speech Team Kid and Theatre Nerd At Heart)". Obviously the title would have been too long for Twitter's 140 character limit. Also, I felt that it would take away from the point of my post this week. This week I want to talk about giving back to our institutions that we work for--with a particular interest to looking outside our department, graduate study program, or job/role.

This past weekend I had the great pleasure of helping the speech and forensics department at my current institution with their invitational tournament. This opportunity came forward when someone in my cohort asked the cohort if anyone would help this weekend. As soon as I saw "forensics" I didn't even blink before I knew I wanted to help. You see, I did forensics (or what I'm use to calling "Speech Team") in high school for two years. I wasn't particularly good at it but I loved spending Saturdays with my friends and the noticeable improvement and confidence in my communication.

Another reason that I decided to help was that this was an opportunity to step back into a world that I have missed since I left. I actually miss lots of the different activities that I was involved with before graduate school and outside the realm of student affairs--particularly theatre and speech/forensics. I have asked myself how I could get involved with those things once I transitioned into a student affairs professional. Lucky me: I found it before the professional world while in grad school!

I had a lot of fun this past weekend! It was interesting being on this side of the table because it wasn't that long ago that I was like these students: in business suits, finding walls in which to rehearse pieces to, and nervous whenever I saw a judge walking around the tournament. I think one of the other reasons I had fun this weekend is because I was able to still give back to students outside of the roles and duties of my job. I mean, come on, we all now Astin would have been proud that I am supporting the tournament's students in their involvement. Outside of Astin though, it's great to see the speech and forensics college students involved in something that enhances their curricular experience. Though my part is small I am glad to have been able to contribute to it.

This weekend has shown me that I can get involved and step back into worlds that are not student affairs related. Like I said, I have been thinking about how I am going it get involved in non-student affairs interests once I transition into the professional world. One of the many things that I am taking from this weekend is getting involved doesn't necessarily have to happen outside of the institution. Even just asking or volunteering to help in areas of interest can open the door those interest. I am also taking away the importance and value in giving back to our institution. I was able to support college students through helping a department at my institution.

I still am curious, how have others and SAFirstYears readers been able to pursue interests outside of student affairs? Is it possible? What are some of the best ways to give back to our institutions? Tweet me your thoughts at @LuisHGaray!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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