Reflecting on a Leap

by Christian Heasley

For many of us, summer is here (or just around the corner) and it is time to celebrate! There is a natural impulse to crash at the end of the academic year, but something I find just as cathartic as time off is some personal reflection. I am a big believer in the importance of reflection as a part of the learning process and strive to challenge my students to engage in meaningful reflection. Now as my first year in graduate school comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on what has changed for me since last May. Around this time last year I felt directionless and lost. I knew I wanted to work in education, but could not find my niche. I was depressed and in need of a change.

I am not someone who dreamed of working in student affairs while I was in college. My dream was to be a music teacher and a conductor. After college, I left my small town in Pennsylvania and took a job as a middle school music teacher in Iowa. Unlike the horror stories I had heard from colleagues at underfunded programs, I worked with a terrific faculty in a community that supported the arts. This was the perfect job…but I wasn’t happy.

I thought moving closer to home would be the remedy, so I moved home and took a job in a neighboring town as a choir director. It turned out I was unhappy there as well. I would spend the next few years going to different districts trying to find what was missing in my life. Last year I decided I needed to make a change and set myself to apply to graduate school.

Financial limitations meant I had to go close, so I looked at programs in my area that I thought I could be interested in. Our local state university had one that caught my eye, Student Affairs in Higher Education. I thought as a teacher it might be a transition I could make and would at least get me doing SOMETHING different. I took a leap….and I cannot emphasize enough how thankful I am for it.

In student affairs, I have found a welcoming and supportive community of students and professionals dedicated to improving the lives of those around them. I honestly am as surprised as the next person that I have fallen in love with the field, but given my time as a music teacher it should not have surprised me (or would not have if I had more actively engaged in reflection!). Yes, I love creating art with the students, but my favorite aspect was never merely imparting musical knowledge on them, but helping them develop into better people. It excited me how much students could learn besides music in my ensembles. This is why I have found a home in student affairs, a belief that what we are teaching outside of the “content area” can be just as important if not more so.

I did not teach music because I believed all my students would be musicians. Likewise, I do not supervise resident assistants with the assumption that they will all have careers in residence life. The fact is, in both cases, the vast majority will not. However, what they can obtain from their experiences will shape their lives and aid them in whichever path they choose. That is what I find truly special about work in student affairs. No matter the path our students take beyond our institution, we are dedicated to helping them live rich and meaningful lives.

Student Affairs - the First Years

Phasellus facilisis convallis metus, ut imperdiet augue auctor nec. Duis at velit id augue lobortis porta. Sed varius, enim accumsan aliquam tincidunt, tortor urna vulputate quam, eget finibus urna est in augue.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't be afraid! We love to hear from our readers!