Anyone Can Make An Impact On Anyone

Every morning I wake up to two quotes from different apps – one from “yoga quotes” and the other from “quote of the day”.  Sometimes I feel like they have nothing to do with my life, and probably never will.  Today’s, however, fit in perfectly with a recent occurrence in my life – which inspired me to write about it.

The quote: 

“Not only can you not plan the impact you’re going to have, you often won’t recognize it when you’re having it.”

Last Tuesday, I received a Facebook message from a student who worked at the Rec Center at Rowan University.  Although I was a G.A at the Student Center, I taught Zumba at the Rec Center and worked out there fairly often.  I met so many awesome, driven, inspiring and motivating students, GAs, and professional staff there.  I was lucky to be surrounded by such awesome people throughout Rowan.

image This one student in particular was a huge motivator for me.  CONFESSION: I was a cardio addict –  teaching Zumba 5-6 times a week, running on occasion, obsessed with the elliptical … that was me.  I barely touched weights and hardly dabbled in strength training.  Truth be told – I was afraid of the weight room.  I didn’t know how most of the stuff worked and I was terrified to try to use it all.  This student was a trainer, and was CONSTANTLY motivating her clients … I would see her at the gym almost every morning between 6-7 am working with all different types of people … so I decided to reach out.  Her personality was fun-loving, bubbly, inspiring and that of an all around driven trainer.  She immediately offered to help me, and within weeks had me in the weight room, comfortable with majority of the machines and had a full program set up for me.  Eventually, I wasn’t afraid to walk in the weight room on my own, and spend my entire workout strength training with the exception of a 5-10 minute warm-up.  She was a student, she was younger than me and SHE HAD A HUGE IMPACT ON ME AND THE WAY I LIVED MY LIFE.  This student went on to be offered and accept a Graduate Assistantship (which she is going to ROCK at).

I digress …

Last Tuesday, I received a FB a Facebook message from this student – part of which stated, “I know we didn’t get the chance to see each other before you or I had left, but I wanted to say thanks for everything. You’ve really been an inspiration to me. You’ve made me want to be a health advocate, GA, and positive person like you. The little things you do every day has made an impact on me and many others as well. I will continue to follow you on your journey and I hope that we can stay in touch!”

Needless to say, I was speechless (for those of you who know me, you know that doesn’t happen often).  Here I was, so grateful for the inspiration, motivation and courage this student supplied me with – and there she was thanking ME for inspiring her.  Never, in a million years, did I expect to be someone who made an impact on her.  I was so focused on my gratitude for what she taught me that I didn’t pay attention to what my words or actions did for her.

Needless to say, this has all taught me a REALLY important life lesson.  You have NO IDEA who you’re making an impact on (positive OR negative … lucky for me, this was positive).  At any given point, no matter where your head is – other people are thinking about and focusing on something completely different.  You may think that you’re walking through your day, without anyone noticing – but, in reality, you are leaving footprints wherever you go.  It’s up to YOU if those footprints will be remembered positively or negatively – and regardless of what you think, someone WILL remember something.

One of the reasons I am looking forward to being a professional in higher education is because the people surrounding you, students especially, can teach YOU just as much as you can teach THEM – and this further proved that for me.  Once again, this student has taught me an important lesson – and I could not be more grateful.

This is my life …  In Progress. 

Knowing the Difference: Want vs. Need

Recently, I had a Skype interview for a job that posed a really interesting and thought-provoking question.  I answered the question to the best of my ability and later on thought about all of the other answers I could have given (everyone does that, right?).  The question was a great one posed for higher education, but also got me thinking about certain things in life… and, who doesn’t love thought-provoking questions that encourage you to think about multiple things?

So- I figured … why not share?

The question:  Please provide us with something you feel that college students want, but don’t need and also with something college students need, but don’t necessarily want.  

During my interview I replied with an answer directed more towards Res Life, because that was the type of position I was interviewing for.  I spoke on the fact that students show up to college, often, with unrealistic thoughts of what it is like to live on a college campus because of the views that TV shows and movies provide.  Students want freedom, they want to feel like they’re able to do whatever they want, whenever they want and that they’re ready to take on the world.  In reality, I feel that students need someone there to help them transition into a new phase of their lives.  They don’t need a babysitter, or someone acting as a “helicopter” so to speak – but, people who are willing to mentor them, and help them on their way in casewantneed the get lost on the  brand new path they’re traveling – even if they don’t always want it.

Spark Notes Version:

  • Want, but don’t need = Complete freedom with no supervision
  • Need, but don’t (always) want =  Someone there to help them transition into a new phase of their lives

There are so many topics that can be brought to the table in regards to this question, in the realm of higher education.  At Rowan, one of the biggest topics of discussion when the new President was sworn in last year was that of making the campus even more focused on “Student Centeredness” than it already was.  By focusing on the students and all different types of student learners, Rowan (and all other institutions) would be giving the students what they need in order to develop skills so that they are able to have successful lives during and post-college.   By focusing on this question of want vs need in higher education, it really helps bring focus to student growth.

It was definitely an interesting question … and one I pose to the higher education community – both students and professionals.  What do you feel students want but don’t necessarily need – and vice versa?

 

Lessons Learned and More To Come

I’ve always been the person who says, “If you’re going to have a blog – make sure you update it regularly … keep your readers engaged!” Although offering the advice, I clearly haven’t been the person who follows that statement.  I love reading blogs, especially ones that offer great life stories and yet teach you great things at the same time (Two of my current favorites, whose posts I never miss:  Kimmi Sterner- The Fortunate Life, and Gary Baker- Between Mouth and Mind).  The two of them make me feel like I should really be updating my blog with all of my life lessons – but, I haven’t.  Until Now.

The past two years have been a total whirlwind of educational lessons, life lessons, fun and personal development – and did I mention FUN?!  I learned more about myself in these past two years of grad school, and working at a University than I have in my total 27 years of existence (okay, maybe that’s stretching it a little .. but, honestly, sometimes it feels that way).

My blog posts in the past have been fairly structured – more “here’s what happened today” instead of “here’s what I think other people could learn from my life” – which is going to change .. now.

Two and half years ago I walked into a classroom at Rowan University with the expectation that I would take some classes, earn my M.A in Higher Education Administration, find a job at a University working with students and BOOM! – life would be perfect.  In reality, that was just the base of what I was about to experience.  Life had some extra learning moments in store for me and right here, right now, I’m going to share my top 5 of those with you.  Hopefully they help someone else out!

1. Be prepared for change – ALWAYS.

I worked professionally for just about three years in the field of PR before going back to school.  When I was offered my assistantship and started working in the Student Center, I was working in the office the same way I was working in the firm.  I kept thinking things had to be short, sweet and to the point.  WRONG.  I learned as I continued on that although there are DEFINITELY deadlines in higher ed, it’s more “all about the story” than strictly PR.  Higher Ed is all about telling your story, inspiring people with your story & inspiring them to create their own story to be able to learn and grow from.  I had to work hard to change my thought process and be successful where I was working, and it wasn’t always easy – but I got there … which brings me to my second lesson.

2. It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

keep going There were so many moments over the last two and a half years that I thought I was just going to fall apart.  Returning back to school after a three-year hiatus was difficult, writing papers in APA as opposed to MLA was NOT FUN, working in a totally different field & with people who worked differently than I did proved to be a major challenge at times and it was definitely NOT always easy.  But let’s be honest here.  What in life is always easy?  Those moments that made me feel broken down, totally lost and unsure of myself made me who I am today.  The best part – none of those moments killed me! Each of those moments that made my brain feel like mush (yup, technical term) helped me learn more about myself and how to develop as a person, a student and a supervisor … and despite the momentary feeling of “lost”, I got through it all and am a better person for it.

3. For every moment that breaks you down, there are three that will build you back up. 

Just as in any job there will be days that exhaust you!  You will have had one too many meetings.  opportunityYour phone rang way too much.  People asked you the same things over and over again.  Deadlines approach way too quickly.  Departments have endless questions about events.  Someone spoke to you the wrong way and was way too rude.  Your to-do list just keeps growing.  You’re stressed out.  No one likes those days.  But something I’ve realized and will continue to focus on is that the beauty of higher ed is, if you do your job right, you’re positively impacting so many people around you.  Because of one of those repetitive questions you answered, or an event you helped plan, you made someone else’s day.  Whether it’s a parent, a student, a co-worker, a staff member, or a department head … someone else is walking away, smiling, because you helped them.  That makes it all worth it.  I’ve had some pretty crappy days, where out of nowhere I get a thank you from someone for helping make their life easier – and, honestly, it turns my day around.  Remember that when people ask for help. Just because you’re having a rough day doesn’t mean you need to make someone else miserable.   Smile, help someone out and positive karma will come back and help you out … always.

4. Show your gratitude.

I’m not talking about saying thanks when someone lets you borrow their pen (although .. you should do that too).  Hear me out.  Ogratitudever the last two years, I have come in contact with some pretty phenomenal people.  Professionals from other universities who were / are willing to help me with my resume and building my cover letter, and offering advice on staff trainings and social media strategies as well as introducing me to other connections.  I have met with and spoken with higher education professionals both at Rowan and outside of Rowan who agreed to just let me pick their brain for an hour about their journey through higher ed.  My supervisors at Rowan offered me endless advice, continuous training and amazing opportunities – all of which I was lucky to get.  What do I mean by show your gratitude?  Stay in touch with the people who were / are willing to help, let them know how grateful you are, continue to learn from them and pass on the advice you’ve been given.  The world would be a much better place if we all just showed everyone the gratitude they deserved.

5. Welcome the “learning moments”.

This was a big one for me over the last two years.  There were SO MANY learning moments.  In classes, at work, in my personal life – I’m fairly certain that the universe decided that since I decided to go back to school, I needed to learn lots of things about every aspect of my life.  Friendships became rocky, love was lost (we won’t get into that), new relationships were formed – some lasted and some didn’t, financial issues presented themselves, momentary lapses of brilliance happened in the classroom (For those of you who know me well, I know it’s tough to believe … but yes, it happened to me… HA!), supervisory skills were tested, and at times the way I reacted to situations was questioned.  I learned lots of lessons.  I learned that just because you feel a certain way about something doesn’t mean someone else has to feel the same way … and just because they don’t feel the same way, it doesn’t make them wrong.  It means you need to listen, because there’s probably something you can take away from it.  I learned that people will come into your life, some will stay and some will go … but not to worry about the ones who go, because if they were meant to be there, they’d be there – or they’ll come back in time.  I learned that just because someone is treating you poorly, it doesn’t mean you’ve necessarily done something wrong – but, instead, that they have other things going on in their life … so, to take it with a grain of salt, allow it to make you stronger, learn from it and move on.  The biggest lesson on “learning moments” that I learned is that they present themselves whenever you allow them to.  Every single moment in your life can be a learning moment, if you allow it to be – so welcome them and make the most out of them.

As I’m sitting here, typing this (taking a break from submitting endless job applications), I realize there are SO many more lessons I have learned over the last 2 years, but I figured this was a good “umbrella” list for all of them.

Spark Notes Version :

Embrace the people that surround you and the lessons they are willing to teach (or, the ones you learn from them).  You may hit some rough patches along the way, but it’s nothing you can’t get through.  Help people out and they’ll be willing to help you.  Smile, and make someone’s day – regardless of what’s going on in your own … because you CAN make a difference in someone else’s life.  Last, but certainly not least, welcome every single learning moment that presents itself in your life … without them, you won’t grow.  

Hopefully I’ll have some more sage advice for everyone in the near future :).

This is my life (and blog)…  In Progress.