Where should I start? It’s been less than a year since I decided to pursue a career in student affairs. It was randomly during a 1:1 with my supervisor. See I was a first year Resident Assistant (RA) and had just found out that I’d been hired as a Senior RA (mentor to other RAs) for the next year. My supervisor, Ola, asked me what I wanted to do after graduation. I knew I wanted to attend grad school, but for what I had absolutely no idea. I’m an English major and while I love my major, I don’t think it’s my calling. Initially my plan was to move to LA and see where I can go with music. It’s still a dream but I don’t think it’s what I need to be doing right now.
During the conversation I jokingly said that I could see myself doing student affairs work. I loved being an RA. I loved helping out residents, my staff, and all the connections I made. Some of the people I look up to most are in the profession. Funny thing is that after I said it, I wanted it. A few days later I received an email about the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program (NUFP) and decided that I would give it a shot. For a mentor, I could only think of one person. He was the Hall Coordinator for one of the residence halls at the University of Texas at Austin (doing my undergrad here) and he had many qualities that I see in myself. He’s really into helping students (and he’s musical). I asked him if he would do it and he said yes. Being a NUFP himself, I knew he would have a lot to offer me as a mentor. I found out I was accepted into the program in June and ever sense have been working really hard to ensure that I get into the graduate program that is right for me.
I was also a Summer RA and my HC Tiana gave me the task of talking to different professionals and finding out why they are in the profession and what path they took to get where they were. I talked with other HC’s, the Program Manager, an Area Manager, the Dean of Students and even the Vice President of Student Affairs. I have to say that it was the best thing I could’ve done. I received so much advice from them.
Once the Fall started, I went straight into I graduate in May and need to get into grad school mode. I started looking at programs and recommenders. I took the GRE and worked on my resume. All the way, Sam has been there guiding me and giving support. He even gave me the name of my dream school, the University of Vermont. It never even crossed my radar until he said something. Upon doing some research, I found that it has everything I want from a grad program.
Now, I’m in the process of revising my personal statement, talking with current graduate students in the programs I’ve shortlisted, and preparing to complete my applications. While I’m extremely excited, I’m also terrified because I have no idea what I would do if I didn’t get in anywhere. I can’t just go back home and find a job. It’s scary. I know have to do everything in my ability to make it to interview weekends because I already know how to sell myself in person.
I’m terrified and hopeful, but this is only the start.