So as a follow up from a response to a recent post, I would like to address the idea of a “Student Affairs Professional”
A friend brought up the point that one of my last post made it sound like everyone who worked in Student Affairs was a “liberally educated professional who was educated elsewhere” and I would like to dispel that idea.
Student affairs professionals come from many different walks of life, many different routes, many different professions, and many different personal stories. Just as the students they work with and the global community those students go to are diverse, so are the staff that work with them. I work beside people from all over Texas, Oklahoma, and farther; trained here, Kansas State, Baylor, and beyond; with degrees ranging from Higher Education Administration to Computer Science and Accounting and everything in between. There are religious views ranging from Christian and Islam to agnostic and atheist. Political views vary from right wing to left, conservative to liberal, covering nearly every party you can think if. Even fashion sense ranges from 60s Dallas big hair to modern.
And quite frankly, that makes more sense than anything else. What would be the point of these individuals challenging and supporting the mission of an institution if they were all of one point of view? If all came from one background, how could we discuss diversity while pushing students to grow. Research shows that facing diverse points of view as well as a diverse population (SES, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, etc) develops what are called “democratic citizens.” These students go into the world with a more fully developed personal point of view and an ability to better understand other perspectives.
What I am trying to say is that in the profession of student affairs, we come from everywhere, are trained in every way, and forced to think both in and outside of the box. The gentleman who brought up this idea is in computer science but he was one of the first people to really get me involved in doing research in Higher Education Administration. He introduced me to professional societies back when I decided to enter this profession and has always challenged me to think deeper. He comes from a different place than me, but we have both served in this profession.
It is a huge field. Value and respect all of the people you meet…a lesson I have to remind myself of every day.