Passing the Baton
by Olivia Miller
“I’m actually thinking about following in your footsteps and going into college student development.” Earlier this year one of my student workers from my graduate assistantship posted on Facebook how she loves writing and receiving letters, and for her last semester she would love to hear from friends and family. Of course, I had to send her a letter of my own encouraging her to finish strong, how much I appreciated working with her for two years and watching her grow. A few weeks later I received a response from her, with the above quote midway through the letter. When I first read it, I of course, teared up – in our profession we always hope to see our students grow to their full potential and guide them to their best selves. Then for our students to consider student affairs because of our influence – that is just icing on the cake.
I have titled this article “Passing the Baton” because I believe that is what our profession does – we pass on that passion of student affairs, and we learned it from those before us. I myself was handed the baton of student affairs, specifically advising, by my graduate assistantship supervisor, Michelle, when I realized that my first graduate program was not the right or healthy choice. Looking back, many people tried passing on the baton to me (shout out to K-State’s Housing folks!) and I did not pick it up because I was not interested or ready to consider student affairs as a post-graduation option (at the time I thought student affairs was only housing and I did not have enough of the WOO strength to be interested). I was only ready to pick up that baton after working at ACIC with Michelle my senior year, struggled through a year of graduate school in a different program and realized that major and career exploration tied in with advising made me happy as a career option.
While I was in graduate school (and returned to work at ACIC), one of my other student workers went through a similar process. She was majoring in Marketing and did a summer internship and realized she was not as happy – after graduation she applied to K-State’s graduate program and is now about to finish her first year in the College Student Development program. I handed her the baton when she was ready, and possibly with this second student of mine. To me, this is how our field grows – we discover student affairs by getting involved in college, we get mentors and realize that we want to be a part of this too. After that we become the mentors to our students and find many of them following in our footsteps after we pass them the baton.
To conclude, I would like to thank those who passed the baton of student affairs to me – I do love my job and I love advising (which my student asked in her letter. Thank you for introducing me to this field, for letting me find my own way into the field and supporting me as I entered the field and now pass on the baton to future student affairs students and professionals.
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