As I pursue a Master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Personnel, I have had the incredible opportunities to serve as the Graduate Assistant for Student Activities and a Practicum Student with the Dean of Students at the University of Mississippi as well as a NODA Orientation Intern at Auburn University. Additionally, I have engaged in leadership opportunities as the newly elected President of the Student Personnel Association and the Founder of the Grad Student Walking Club. Through these experiences in my first year of my graduate program, I’ve gained invaluable experience about the field of student affairs.
One of my favorite things about working with the Student Activities Association is how diverse the experiences are that I have encountered. SAA has five separate focus areas: entertainment, homecoming, pageants, special events and public relations, and 15 students serve on the Executive Council that oversees these activities. Throughout the year, these separate co-director teams work with their respective committees that total over 125 students to put on free programming for students on campus. From fall and spring concerts to Hotty Toddy Holidays to Welcome Week to Miss University to Homecoming Week and more, I have helped plan, execute and assess over 100 events in my first year.
Working with these student leaders has been such a joy. They are hard working, creative, persistent and so much fun to be with! Serving as one of their advisors has been one of the best aspects of my work, and I have already learned so much about what it means to be an effective, supportive and growth-minded advisor. Whether it is advancing my skills with graphic design or other promotional efforts, learning how to set up an elaborate speaker system, handling a crisis as the clocks down to the start of an event or trying to think of new and groundbreaking event ideas, this work has stretched me and opened my eyes, and I am thrilled to continue growing in my second year.
Being a part of the Student Union staff at Ole Miss is another aspect of what makes my assistantship so dynamic. Being a part of not just student activities but all of the leadership and engagement components of student life at UM along with facility operations has given me a broad view of student affairs. I work with an incredible team that has taught me a great deal about student organization management and event registration, leadership programming, student government, space reservations and more.
Throughout my duration in the program, I have the chance to complete two practicums (semester-long internships). I spent my first semester with the Dean of Students and learned so much. Dipping my toes in the areas of student advocacy, Greek life, student conduct and student unions gave me a much deeper understanding of how these areas work and how they can best support students. Additionally, I was able to plan several meetings and luncheons with students, staff and faculty including Student Leader Luncheons and the Who’s Who and Hall of Fame ceremonies. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in this practicum, and I look forward to completing my second one this fall in the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement.
After completing a rigorous, several month long application and interview process, I was thrilled to accept a NODA Internship working with the Camp War Eagle Orientation Program at Auburn University. In the midst of COVID-19 struggles, it was surprising and exciting news to learn that I would still be able to travel to Auburn to complete my internship. While it looks a bit different that originally expected, I am eager to continue learning about acclimating and welcoming first year students and their families to campus.
My experiences this year have provided me so much insight into this field. I am thrilled to continue growing as a scholar, practitioner, advisor and colleague throughout the second half of my graduate studies!