Personal Statement 2.0

By Tolu Taiwo

        Over the past semester, I talked a bit about looking at my personal statement that got me into Colorado State University’s SAHE program. This has helped me to keep perspective when the going has gotten tough (*cough cough…October…cough cough*). However, I think it’s important to not only look back at my personal statement, but to change my statement as my professional self changes. I decided to share my current statement with you all, and encourage you to share yours!

        My fascination with student affairs began when I was a sophomore in college.  I was working with my university’s programming board, and I loved every minute of it.  I had my quintessential moment of realizing that student affairs was a job after attending a National Associate for Campus Activities (NACA) seminar on turning undergraduate leadership opportunities into a job.  I was hooked, and I applied for student affairs graduate school programs the fall of 2012.

        Over time, I realized that working with students, for me, was not just about Unions and programming.  It is making sure students’ physically, emotional, and mental health is in check, with the aid of counseling centers.  It is getting them moving and healthy, whether it’s in the form of a treadmill or a cooking class with campus rec and wellness.  It’s connecting them with alumni with the career center, establishing their leadership, and allowing them to learn about different ways of living at culture centers.  I was relieved when I had this revelation; it was a sign that I was into working with students for more than just my undergraduate experience.  It showed that I wanted to get into this work because I wanted what was best for college students, not because I had an obsession with one aspect of student affairs.

        I am applied (I applied?) to grad school, and specifically Colorado State University’s (CSU) program because I want to learn how to enhance the lives of students outside of the classroom, and learn about issues facing higher education.  I want to learn how colleges deal with socioeconomic and cultural issues.  I want to research higher education’s trends and leadership styles.  In short, I applied because I wanted to know what made students’ tick, so that I could help them achieve their undergraduate—and future—goals.

        Since my time here at CSU, I have clung hard to these initial believes.  During times of professional doubt or a difficult and busy weekend, I look at my reasoning for going into graduate school, and I remind myself why I am in this work.  Nothing has changed, but I have added an important piece to my philosophy: I believe that students should achieve their goals, but I want them to find complete autonomy in their choices, to be confident in the choices that they made themselves.  I am a big believer in student development, and one of the theories that stuck with me my first semester—and that will stick with me for a long time—is Baxter-Magolda’s self-authorship theory.  She details a student’s journey from following formulas to understanding one’s internal foundation.  I think this is the biggest role a student affairs professional can play in a student’s life.  And that is why advising students, and advising techniques, are so important to me: I want to effectively give students the tools to make the decisions that allow them to be the author of their lives.  I want the best for my students, my future students, and all higher education students in general.  It is because of this that I continue, and will continue, to do student affairs work.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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