This year has flown by. My first year of grad school is done. I turned in all of my assignments, closed my hall and watched my 2nd years graduate. The person I was back in July is not the person I am today. I have been challenged and supported. I have cried and I’ve smiled. I have wanted to give up. Grad school puts you through it. I have had many late nights and/or early morning writing papers and completing readings/presentations. I have worked with 5 amazing RAs who I have both loved and wanted to scream at on occasion. I have worked on 3 different practicum opportunities: SAHE Interview Days Volunteer Coordinator, ODA Annual Immersion Trip prac student, and as the Multicultural Student Leadership Conference prac student. These opportunities in addition to my assistantship in residence life have given me tools to become a better educator. Not to mention that I got to work with awesome people like Aeriel, Jessica, Yvania and Colleen!
The faculty have also pushed me and my thinking. When I first came to SAHE, I had a bad case of imposter syndrome. I did not think that I was as intelligent as my peers. I struggled with finding my place here at Miami. I felt so alone. It was in David’s Foundations of Student Affairs class that I stopped feeling alone. He reminded myself and my cohort that we all earned our spots here. We were chosen to come here for a reason. That same semester, Elisa challenged me to think critically about student development theory and how systems of oppression shape reality. She encouraged me to dig deeper and to explore myself developmentally. Kathy sparked the research bug in me. Prior to her Foundations of Research in Higher Ed course, I had only dabbled in research. Now I have so many research interests that I foresee a doctorate in my future. This semester, Kirk pushed me to take my theoretical ideas and put them into practice. Prac class was easily one of my favorites and a huge part of that was his style of teaching. Stephen showed me how to have difficult conversations and how to do so creatively. Through his class I learned that diversity only goes so far, but inclusion takes it to the next step. Having Elisa for a 2nd time opened my eyes to what it really means to utilize student development theory. Because of theory 2 (aka Critical Perspectives on Student Development) I have come to rethink how theory is created, what factors are left out and how we can account for the systemic impact oppression has on students.
My cohort has also been a big part of this year and my growth. Before starting grad school, people would tell me that my cohort would be in classes and working together; that we should share memories and lots of laughs; and that we would be great friends. What they didn’t tell me was that in addition to that things would be hard. When you have 20 people from different backgrounds, with different identities and different experiences, everything won’t be rainbows and unicorns. Everyone won’t be your best friend. That is not realistic. Everyone won’t say the right thing in class. However they also left out how much I would appreciate each and every person in my cohort. My experience here in SAHE thus far would not be the same without the people that make up my cohort. We are 20 very different individuals but come this time next year, we will be 20 SAHE graduates all with a M.S behind our names. We are on this journey together and no matter if the road is bumpy or smooth, I wouldn’t want to be on it without them.
This year, I have learned about myself. I have learned what I need to do to be successful and I have learned that I don’t have to do it all on my own. I have grown so much in this short amount of time and I will continue to grow as I prep for my #SummerAtSalem and my second year. I can’t wait to see what the summer brings as well as the 16-17 academic year.