I can remember moving into my residence hall freshman year like it was yesterday. The young eighteen year old me was elated and anxious at the journey that lay ahead of me. A fresh start, thousands of new people to meet, and living on my own for the first time. I also remember the exact moment I met two of the most important people to me my freshman year: my resident advisors. As I timidly shook their hands when they introduced themselves to me, I remember thinking, “I want to be like them one day”. I looked up to them from the first time I met them. I couldn’t quite put the words as to why I felt that way, but I knew I wanted to look that confident at the end of my first year of college. And as a freshman, I never thought I would get to a point where I could meet students and they would think “I want to be like him one day”.
Well, my time in college came and passed and before I knew it I was involved in several student organizations and got to be the person that some students looked up to. It was a humbling experience because one thing I didn’t realize until I started becoming involved was how much my students impacted me. One of the moments that struck me the most was when I was an orientation leader. After years securing friendships and finding a routine, I took fewer risks. Seeing my orientation students push through their anxiety of being in a new environment with people they didn’t know and put themselves out there to make new friends. It was a nice reminder that I didn’t get to where I was by being safe.
Throughout my short time as a graduate assistant and a full-time professional, I see how this relationship is almost identical to what it was when I was a student. My students will look up to me, and I will continue to be humbled by my students. I will continue to look up to older professionals, and, I hope, as a young professional I can provide insight that will humble and reinvigorate their passion. So, you current and aspiring professionals out there, how do you feel like you’ve made a difference in your students and your mentors lives? And, more importantly, how have they made a difference in yours?