Olivia's Best Week Ever

by Olivia Barker

Like a lot of people, I fell into student affairs...I had no clue I could do this everyday! I started my graduate assistant position in January for the Office of Leadership and Service and the first big event I planned was an alternative spring break for 15 students to New Orleans. My trip was less than 2 months away and I had no clue where I needed to start. I had an incredible supervisor who was so encouraging and gave me complete freedom on selecting the destination, my team, our service projects, our reflection activities and all other aspects of the trip. She trusted me and gave me the autonomy I needed to gain confidence in my new role.

I worked to find what was most financially reasonable for our trip and selected New Orleans. Then I began selecting my team and was responsible for interviewing over 50 applicants, selecting the participants, telling those who didn't make it and then planning the actual trip. After 3 full days of interviews, I had my team. I looked at their applications and their passion areas and started making the phone calls to find out purpose of the trip. I called over 10 agencies and every single one of them needed our help. We only had 5 days so I knew I had to narrow it down. I decided on 3 agencies all serving very different purposes. The first two days we did a park clean up and cleared the backyard at a women's home to plant a garden, the next two days we cleaned up the streets of New Orleans near the most charming and inspiring restaurant called Cafe Reconcile and finally we went all around New Orleans replacing light bulbs with energy efficient lights. We heard so many stories from survivors of Hurricane Katrina, met some really incredible locals and explored the culture and history of New Orleans. I had the coolest team and we were serving the coolest city by doing the coolest service projects.

Every minute of everyday was filled with service, team bonding and reflection! I was blown away by the commitment of my students and what we accomplished in that week. That week helped me fall in love with student affairs and the work that we do. It was the best week ever! We had an amazing adventure and I'm still in contact with several of the students and one is even a student affairs professional. I'm blessed to have found this field and I'm so thankful for the supervisors, programs and opportunities I've had along the way that have allow me to fall in love with it over and over again!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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