What Student Development Class Taught Me about Identity

By Luis H. Garay

This past Thursday marked my completion of all the coursework for the semester. The last assignment of the semester was an autobiography paper for my Student Development II class. For the assignment, we were to write about our undergraduate experience using theories from the past two semesters of student development class. (Side note: I LOVE that my program splits student development theory over two semesters!). I enjoyed working on the assignment since I got to traverse down memory lane and was able to apply theories to my personal experience. For me, this makes the theories easier to contextualize when I have a basis for the theory.

Even though I really enjoyed the assignment, I wanted to be able to write about my experiences in graduate school. You see, the theories for this semester of class focused on identity. We studied theories concerning race, international students, male identity, female identity, gender, sexuality and other topics.Sitting in class weekly I was surprised at how much of these theories I found myself relating to my experience in graduate school. My identity was undoubtedly shaped during my undergrad. However, in the last year, I understand my identity in a whole new way: it’s growing, evolving, and shaping itself into something new. The reason this fascinates me is because I never thought I would experience an identity growth during these two years of my program (a professional identity growthbut not a personal identity growth). Sure, I knew there was still growing to do. But, when you are a graduate student spending your time between courses, homework, work, and campus leadership you do not find yourself much time focusing on you (or, I should say “me”).

One of the many ideas I took away from class: identity is fluid. It is only three words but for some reason those three wordswere powerful to hearYou mean, I can shape my identity? I thought to myself. It doesn’t have to stay the same way it was as I left it after college? Like I said, this past year I have been experiencing an identity reformation. This past year I have been exposed to different ideologies, thoughts, and reasons to see beyond the normal confines of identity.

I never thought I’d experience an identity reformation of my own during graduate school. I’m exciting for the possibilities and the journey. Now I see my identity is fluid, existing without boxes, and shaped by no else but me. 

know in our work we are helping our students come into their identity. We would be wise to remember our personal growth of our identity should be important to us too. If we have a greater sense of ourselves and where we are in who we are, would we not be in the best possible position to help our students?

What are some ways your identity has changed recently or as of lateWhat does identity formation look for you versus for your students? Tweet me your thoughts at @LuisHGaray.

Thanks for being a reader! :-)

Student Affairs - the First Years

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  1. Its pleasure to read such great post.

  2. After the completion of study, so many students faced problem for job due to not having any experience and technical skills they are unable to get desired job. The student development class taught students to get maximum marks and learn technical skills as well as some tips for interviews. Now bring professionalism in your college papers by getting help from http://www.vipessayservice.com/blog/research-proposal which is the world's best website for essay help.


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