My First Year...A Graduate Student Reflection in PFP

In August of 2018, I moved to Kalamazoo, Michigan from North Carolina to pursue my Master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs Leadership. As a recent graduate and convenient store cashier, I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I was excited to take on the challenge. I was lucky enough to not only have the opportunity to be in graduate school, but also to have a job that would give me experience and help me pay for school…but could I actually do the work?

I was not completely sure I was capable of completing the work that would be required of me in class, and I was unsure about my level of professionalism in regard to my graduate assistantship. I had plenty of practice working peer-to-peer with students during my undergraduate career but working with parents and families at the bright age of 23 was something that I did not believe I was prepared for. I felt they would notice that I was young and inexperienced, or wouldn’t take me seriously, because I did not have children of my own. I was quickly reassured that these assumptions were not true. Even though I do not have children of my own, I have a family and family supporters surrounding me who probably had the same fears and thoughts that other parents and families have. My experience is my own and it can be used to support families.
Due to the size of our office, I was able to dive head first into tasks that other students in my academic program would not be tasked with until much later. Within my first semester, I participated in several Enrollment Management events as a co-presenter as well as showcasing alongside my supervisor, helped implement family weekend, presented at the 2018 AHEPPP conference in Louisville, Kentucky, on top of the day-to-day activities of responding to emails, phone calls, and having a social media presence, as well as attending classes in the evenings.
This first year has helped me to realized that I chose the right profession to pursue, and it also opened my eyes to an arena within higher education that I now find to be both interesting and fulfilling. I know that this experience will continue to be useful in ways that will be beneficial in my future profession but also in my lifetime goal of being helpful.

Tips for Success:
I. Ask questions
II. Be open to change and discomfort
III. Try your best
IV. Research history and culture of department

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