Creating A Community

By Christine Pitts

Over the past year and a half I have learned, as well as experienced first hand the benefits of creating a community within student affairs. Communities come in all shapes and sizes. They can be found anywhere from your backyard to the intricate weavings of the Internet.

I went to a conference during the fall semester of my first year as a student affairs graduate student and one of the segments was on virtual identity. The presenter discussed LinkedIn, Twitter, and more as sources to build our personal brands while connecting with other graduate students and professionals in our field. I remember I went home that day and completely reorganized my Twitter, LinkedIn and made an About Me page. It was discouraging at first, because I hardly had any connections on Twitter or LinkedIn. However, I kept my pages and profile up to date and began connecting with others in student affairs.

One of the first approaches I took to connecting with others and creating a community was the #SAChat on twitter. From there, I connected with my new twitter contacts on LinkedIn. It was awesome to have the opportunity to talk to other people in student affairs who live in many different parts of the country. It gave me new prospective on different departments, students and helped me to build new ideas.  It also opened my eyes to the opportunities of working in different parts of the country. Creating this online community was one of the best steps I took while being a student affairs graduate student.

Online communities are fantastic, because of the opportunity to connect with almost anyone. However, face-to-face communities are extremely beneficial too. The graduate students in my program serve as a community. My cohort is a group of people whom I know I can rely on at any time. Whether I need help with an assignment, the job search or even life advice, my cohort buddies are always there for me. This community of peers is extremely helpful, because they understand my life in a way that my friends and family most likely do not. Graduate school is hard, but my peers can relate. So when I’ve had a long day with multiple student issues and I still have three papers to write when I get home – my graduate school friends will get it.  

I am grateful for the community that I have created over the past year and a half. I am always thinking of new and innovative ways to build my community. Furthermore, I am always exploring ways to pay it forward and thank those who have stuck by my side on this journey.

Feel free to share your story of building a community in the comments below or shoot me a tweet so we can connect! @cpitts_

Student Affairs - the First Years

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