Whenever someone asks me why I chose Student Affairs as my career choice, I usually take a deep, deep gasp as if I’m bracing myself for what will come out of my mouth as a suitable answer. The reality is that it’s such a difficult question to answer. Its not like somebody asking why I chose the cereal I ate for breakfast that morning (which for the record will ALWAYS be Captain Crunch :o). It’s a process, an intense, reaffirming process for sure.
First, I almost always have to explain just what Student Affairs is because you can’t understand something that you know absolutely nothing about. Then, I bravely try to explain how I chose to give back to an entity that pretty much created the woman I am today. I’d like to think that my initial interactions with the world of Student Affairs and its’ professionals gave birth to my desire to want to be a change agent in the educational system. As a first-generation college student from Dallas, Oak Cliff to be exact, becoming a student leader on a predominantly White college (PWI) campus became the only way for me to adequately transition to academic achievement on a level that I was unfamiliar with. I wasn’t just a student amongst thousands; I was a leader within a small yet competitive community that held me accountable for my success and failures, my decisions, and actions. I had Advisors who cared and Professors who set high expectations for me, completely confident in my ability to meet them. I heavily relied on the support and guidance I received from academic advisors and my scholarship program. These selfless individuals not only helped me academically but also with digesting the fact that I’d gone from a predominantly Black high school with virtually no diversity to a predominantly White school with virtually NO diversity. I couldn’t help but shudder every time I thought about the idea that I was attending a university where just five decades ago, African-American students were denied the right to a quality education solely based off the color of their skin.
With all that being said, why not Student Affairs? How could I ignore or even deny my obligatory role in fostering the same thriving environment and experience I had in my undergraduate career for the next terrified yet audacious student to come after me? Knowledge is power; it’s an overused expression but it still rings true to the understanding that opportunities are endless with an education but once an education is obtained you keep the door open and try to make it a little less painful for the next person to come through. Students who are still on the hunt for a higher education when tuition costs are rising like nobody’s business inspire me. Minority students who possess a lingering desire to attend a PWI despite the misguided efforts of people who seek to decrease diversity on college campuses motivate me too. So that ladies and gents is why I chose Student Affairs, well in a nutshell at least.