Challenge Me: Day #12 (Do What You Love)

Before you get on me, let me just say, I know I missed yesterday! I’m human, sheesh! But, I’m back on it. I feel like the week went by so fast that I didn’t ‘eem have time to sit down to write yesterday. Anyway, as I work my way through chapter two of my dissertation, I have to say that I have to pause to just say that today, I’m thankful to have a career that I actually love and enjoy very much. I know there are people out here who despise their job and actually loathe everybody there. Thankfully, the Most High aint write my script that way for now.

Back when I had my very first full-time job post-undergrad, my love for supporting students was sparked and the fire continues to burn. I worked at a nonprofit that administered scholarships to college to marginalized student populations and it was an eye-opening experience for me, both personally and professionally. Working in the non-profit realm was fulfilling despite the low pay, but I felt that I was making a difference in students’ lives. I learned the importance of access and equity as many of the students I worked with came from some difficult backgrounds to persevere in the world. I recall a conversation about whether we should make the application online and it was quickly denied once someone mentioned how it would limit access for those in rural areas. That experience made me step out of my mind and think about a lot of the systemic issues and obstacles that hinders students of color getting into higher education. I had to think about my trajectory into higher education and how I persisted at FSU.

After one of my morning train rides, I recall everyone looking so sad and downtrodden. I don’t know what was different about that day in particular, but I felt this need to not be one of those people. I knew that there was more to life and I realized that it was time for me to leave that job and pursue something bigger and more engaging.  It was easy money for the most part and it didn’t take much effort.

I remember telling myself that I needed to work in a place where no two days are ever the same and I get to work with students. After multiple conversations with mentors, I decided it was time for me to leave that position to go to graduate school full-time to get into student affairs. This is one of the first examples in my adult life I can say that I worked my faith like no tomorrow. I didn’t have the grades, the attitude, or the smarts (at that time, I didn’t think I was capable), yet, the Most High took a chance on me and I haven’t looked back since. Yes, I might be on emergency call often, deal with outrageous students, and rude parents, but I can say that this career has brought me so much more. I met my wife (my ol’ lady) through this field, I’ve traveled (never going back to North Dakota), met awesome friends (Eoff, Banks, Poole, Boldon, Holmes, Graham, Bankhead, etc), and I stay up on the latest trends because of my students.

Most importantly, this career allows me to seriously change lives for the better. I can’t tell you how many students have come to me just to say “thank you”, but really, it’s me who should be thanking THEM (and I do)! I understand that this field (similar to many others) has its fair share of issues, however, I can say that the work that I do matters. Maybe not to every single person, but to a lot of these students, it matters.  I pass the tools that I’ve been given to my students. It’s only right because they helped me achieve my own dreams and gave me a space to be great. Without them, student affairs wouldn’t be fun at all…


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