In My Darkest Hour

By Eric Ruelle
@eric_ruelle

I almost gave up. Quit the process completely. Moved on. Said, “Say┼Źnara.”

Those were some dark days in March and April – the period in which I was solidifying my future grad school, seeking out assistantships, grieving for two grandfathers who passed away, and pouring in all I had leftover (emotionally and physically) from working a full-time job as a Detroit Public School teacher. As the interviews mounted, so did the rejections; as confident as I was beginning the process, the man who sat in a Home Depot parking lot, sharing his tears with a steering wheel, was a different person altogether. It became less about whether a school was the right fit, and more about what was wrong with me, and if I had what was necessary to be a Student Affairs professional at all. Every single interview thereafter I'd get sick, driving myself further down a funnel.

In my darkest hour, I would like to believe a lot of things. One: that there were others out there like me who were struggling (though Facebook and my own tunnel vision tried to convince me otherwise). Two: that my mentors, friends, and family were just as confused as I was. Three: that life would point me in the direction that I needed to go. Four: that in my heart of hearts, I wanted this. Call it, “The Secret” effect, or “The Sorting Hat” effect – if I wanted it bad enough, it would inevitably come.

Fortunately, my support system came through for me, to keep me grounded. They asked me the most important question, “Why did you want to get into this field in the first place?” This may be a recurring practice for those already in the profession, but I already learned my first valuable lesson: hold tightly onto that nugget. For the bad days, the good days, the frustrating, and surprising days. Reason is vitally important because it drives your actions, without it you remain static. Inert.

I decided to pursue a M.Ed in Higher Education because of those that helped shape me in college. I owe it to them to pay it forward, to challenge students to become the best that they can be. Further, coupled with my experience in Detroit, I want to research ways to support students coming from a low-income community, and what they bring to a university that's unique, and how to tap into that.

I am excited about the future – I feel like the “me” who started this process in early September (2008, if you're counting the day I stepped onto a college campus), is back. I wound up at my top choice university because an assistantship had opened up late-April; an act of fate or the work of a guardian angel. I move to Chicago on August 10th and start training on the 15th. Here's to the start of a new journey, my first #sachat tweet, and many more memories to be made in HESA because it almost didn't happen, and I'm lucky to be in the position I'm in.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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