Student Affairs Philosophy Statement
“The opportunities higher education provides students and the ability to unlock potential that students do not realize they have significantly inspired me to work in a university setting.” I pulled this quote from my statement of purpose from when I was going through the graduate school process and applying to Florida State University. If I had to choose a single statement to describe my personal philosophy, the aforementioned quote would serve as an accurate representation of what I believe. I value student success and gain certain energy from being on a campus environment where an exchange of ideas, conversations, and passions take place. I have gained a greater understanding of higher education and student affairs. From core competencies and the discussions held in class, to one-on-one conversations held outside the classroom and the experience of living graduate school, my personal philosophy continues to be enhanced and further defined.
First, I believe it is important to understand how one shows up in different environments and spaces they occupy. The FISH! philosophy has been instrumental in my own understanding. This is all about choosing your attitude, playing, being present, and making another person’s day. The way I carry myself on a day-to-day basis is based on the FISH! philosophy. I am a firm believer of servant leadership and being present to meet a student’s needs. This means that I must not always be talking, rather I should focus on the individual and actively listen to what they are saying. As a professional, my job is to be present and listen to a student or peer rather than ignore what they have to say. I have to actively listen, reflect an individual’s message back, understand their thought process, provide guidance, and leave room so there is an opportunity for growth. Each student will come from a diverse background, have unique life experiences, and will need you to be a different advisor, mentor, or supervisor to them. Student affairs is about catering to the needs of the students and facilitating their growth – personally and professionally. I value empowering others to make the best decision for them.
Second, I value and focus on social justice and inclusion immensely due to the ever-changing demographic of today’s college student. We have learned that the average college student today is more diverse, older, non-traditional, and increasingly non-white. My experience with social justice training and awareness of privilege, power, and difference has enabled me to better understand myself and others. As a student affairs professional, it is critical to recognize and be aware of who your students and colleagues are and where they come from. In order to be able to guide and support students, one must be inclusive, create a brave space for conversations to occur, and ensure mutual learning can happen. I hope to create an inclusive environment for all my students and colleagues so that they are able to develop and grow as much as possible. I believe in empowering differences and highlighting an individual for their background. Each student has a story to share, I want to be able to listen and appreciate it. My role, as I transcend from a graduate student into a professional, is to not falter to the dangers of a single story. The work is is never over. The learning never ends.
Third, I believe my role as a student affairs professional is not only to administrate, but also ensure students are developed holistically during and beyond college. As a whole, my goal is to be able to provide ample resources and support to facilitate personal and professional growth for a student. In practice, it is our job to assist students to meet their needs and see the learning and development that transpires throughout their time at the institution. It would also be important to use myself as an example by sharing my personal story. I believe this will add a level of humanism and increase the connection with the student. Furthermore, I believe learning outcomes should be clearly stated and serve as a framework for attaining student success. These intentional goals can provide a nice roadmap for where the student wants to be and enable them to understand what they are getting out of a specific task, meeting, event, or class. Overall, my goal is to develop the whole of the student by challenging and supporting.
Fourth, I value authentic leadership and vulnerability. In a profession where there are so many helpers and people willing to support their students, peers, and institution, there is power in being true to the self and understanding your own story. I must be well-intentioned and lead with authenticity. If I cannot be true to myself, how can I expect to be true to my students or anyone with whom I interact? I find it critical to be myself and allow myself the opportunity to grow and develop through the connections I create with students, mentors, peers, and other individuals. Vulnerability is also important because it will further help me make that connection with my students and show that I am not perfect. I find this to be critical because it allows students to feel empowered and not see a specific person or position as unattainable. Sharing my story may be able to unlock potential a student may not realize they have in themselves.
Lastly, I wish to make an effective impact and create positive change in all facets of my life and the lives of people with whom I interact. Life is far too short to think about everything that has not gone your way and to analyze your struggles on a daily basis. Instead, take your past, learn from it, and allow it to inspire you to strive for greatness. The potential each individual has is sky-high. I challenge myself to constantly improve and do good work. I value people and relationships immensely. I remind myself daily about the incredible support I received in college and how I was able to develop into a functioning member of society despite being a low-income, first-generation college student. Without the mentorship, support, and connection I made with student affairs professionals as an undergraduate and then as a master's student, I would not be here today. Therefore, I believe in this field, the work we do, and the importance of facilitating growth and unlocking potential in students.