ACUHO-I. NODA. NACA. Oh, My!

It’s about that time of the year. The best time of the year. Job search season is right around the corner and you can feel it in the air. There is a heightened sense of pressure, intensity, and stress all around. Conversations are being overtaken by topics of resumes and cover letters. LinkedIn profiles are being updated and social media profiles are going through major changes. It’s a thrill. Everyone is on edge and there is a nervous excitement that seems to envelope everything.

If you are a soon-to-be graduate, you know exactly what I am talking about. Finding a job after high school/college/etc. is terrifying. If you are a first year #SAGrad, you probably are looking for an internship right now. You too know this feeling being described. I know. Because just a year ago I was in your shoes. And, a year before that I was going through this process for my first time.

Whether you’re on the search for the perfect grad school/program, job, or internship you’re feeling the same way as many many people out there right now. Look around, I am sure you see it too!

This process is exciting and scary at the same time. Your body almost can’t handle the emotions and stress that you’re putting it through. But, I promise you will be just fine!


I’m going to give you some advice – now I can’t really talk about the job search – because I’ve never really been on one. But I can tell you the grad school/program search is a wild ride. But, you will end up where you’re supposed to be. Just be patient. Have a little faith. And, don’t be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone! I can also tell you the internship search process is perhaps even better. I LOVED my experience!

I wanted to share a little about my experience and talk to you about the internship process, as I think it can be a little tough to navigate.


So, if you’re a #SAGrad and are freaking out about your internship search right now, here are a few things that I think you should keep in mind.

Location: Are you geographically bound? Are you willing to spend three months anywhere? Or do you have a specific destination in mind. Consider this when applying and making final decisions.

Institution type: This is important. Are you interested in working at a public institution? Or do you want an experience at a private institution? Some institutions are religiously affiliated. Do you want to work at a predominantly white institution? Or are you looking for a historically black college or other minority serving institution? Do you want to work at a community college? Trades school? Or four year university?

Keep this in mind. Are you willing to work for an institution that doesn’t align with your values? I’m not. This is perhaps the most important characteristic for me. I WILL NOT work somewhere that doesn’t align with my values or provide me the support that I seek in a professional setting. So, know if the institution that you’re applying to work for is religiously affiliated or has different values than you. Read mission and vision statements for the university and the department you’d be working for. Ask these questions in interviews.

Size: Large institutions. Small institutions. Mid-sized universities. There are so many options. For me, I needed a new and different experience. I attended Northern Michigan University for my undergraduate studies and the University of South Dakota for grad school. Both had student populations right around 10,000. I needed something smaller or larger…but knew that I didn’t want an internship experience at another mid-sized university.

Experience: Go into your internship search knowing what kind of experience you want. Do you want to work in Housing & Residence Life? Orientation and New Student Programs? Conferences? Student Activities? Do you want to work at a national organization’s headquarters? Or do you want an on-campus experience? What do you want to learn from your internship? What skills/strengths can you bring to your internship experience that will set you apart from other applicants?

Be mindful and intentional when applying for internships so you wind up finding something that you really want to do, and something that you’ll gain a lot from.

For me this was simple. I wanted out of the Midwest. I wanted to work at a really small or really large institution. I wanted to do something with Residence Life. I needed to be supervising student employees. I wanted to find something in a city that I would enjoy. I needed both opportunities for adventure and exploration as well as socializing and networking.

I highly recommend researching not only the campus and institution community, but also the city you’ll be working in. What is the population? What are the demographics? Does the city have a nightlife? Young professionals network? Is there public transportation? Is it biker/walker friendly? What are the food options? Is there a coffee shop or a brewery? What is the shopping like? Where is the nearest mall? I live in a pretty remote area and that was perfect for me, but I know some people can’t survive without a mall, a Chick-fil-A, and a couple bars.

Use your interests and needs to help you narrow your search, but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.


What is it that you’re looking for in an internship? Not sure? Give it some thought. Ask your supervisor, staff members, and peers what they think your strengths are and what you’d benefit from experiencing. Use your head and your heart when making a decision. Don’t accept something that you know you won’t enjoy.

Sometimes internships lead to full-time jobs (mine did!) so do something you’ll enjoy and go somewhere you will want to be. Put your all into this process and have fun!

If you have questions or concerns, feel free to hit me up. I would love to share my input and experiences with others.

Good luck!

-Joel

 

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A few Thoughts on Social Media.

Yesterday I received the sweetest text message from one of my (writing this made me realize for the first time how possessive this sounds. Ugh. They are not my RAs but are each amazing individuals. I don’t own them. Oh my gosh!) the RAs on my staff saying that she needed to block me on Twitter. She went on to explain to me that it was nothing against me or the way I used Twitter, but rather that she uses Twitter as a personal space and that she didn’t want to mix work and personal life on this platform – especially given that she was connected with her boss.

This exchange led to the realization that social media is deeply personal and that everyone uses social differently. While, I think that I’ve known this all along, it took this conversation with a staff member to really put things into perspective for me.

Here’s what I’m thinking.


We live in a world that is constantly connected. Pretty much everyone has some sort of internet/social media presence – In my personal opinion everyone should. The way of the world is changing and if you don’t have a digital presence you’re going to be left behind. You don’t have to be posting and sharing constantly, but rather simply have an understanding of the popular technology and platforms being used and the benefits and costs associated with them.

Social media serves the purpose of connecting one another. It was created so that communities could be built. Given that it was meant for relationship building and connections, it makes sense that social media is deeply personal. Why wouldn’t it be?

I believe that social should be deeply personal. I think that for social media to serve its purpose, you must use it authentically. This requires personalization, intimacy, and shared trust in other users.

Everyone uses social media differently. Some people only use one platform. Some people use all the platforms. Some people lie somewhere in the middle of that spectrum – like me! Some people use different accounts in different ways. I’ll use myself as an example.


I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and obviously, WordPress. I use each of these platforms very intentionally – and I created each account with the purpose of using them intentionally and positively. I will never post/share/say something on social that I wouldn’t do or say in person, or wouldn’t be willing to back up/support if questioned by someone who saw it online.

I use Facebook very irregularly. I check it once a day – if that. I’ve had a very on-and-off relationship with Facebook since I created it when I was a freshman in high school and was hiding my profile from my parents. I didn’t really use Facebook because I didn’t have a smartphone or WiFi at the time…but I felt I had to have one to fit in at school…what a joke. I started being pretty active on Facebook in college – sharing photos, posting status updates, sharing things my friends had posted, joining groups, etc. This continued until my junior and senior year. I deleted Facebook for over a year because I just needed to take a break from the negativity, focus on school, and disconnect for a while. Since reactivating my account after college graduation, I now use Facebook just to share these blog posts and the occasional news article or happening from an organization that I follow. I pretty much just have Facebook to ensure my family members that I’m still alive.

I use Twitter very professionally. I created my Twitter account my senior year of college because I was in a social media communications class and at the time only had an Instagram account. We focused on digital and media literacy in this course and what it means to be a user of new media. When I created this account, I told myself I would only use it to connect with others positively and professionally. I have stuck to that. I share glimpses of myself, my personality, but also use this platform to connect with Higher Education, Communication and Public Relations professionals, musicians, and companies and organizations that I love. I participate in Twitter Chats regularly and follow news and current trends on this platform.

Instagram is the most personal of my profiles. I think photo sharing is a great way to be deeply personal and authentic – perfect for my intentional use of social. I use this platform to share my adventures with you all and to be more fun, lighthearted, and carefree than on my other profiles. You will see my personality shine through photos of my educational/professional endeavors, coffee dates, random runs around lakes or fields, hikes through the wilderness, and other completely random musings.

Lastly, LinkedIn is a very business professional profile. I created this account my senior year while I was on the job/grad school search. I now try to keep this profile updated as an online resume of sorts, but don’t do much sharing or posting on here. I connect with people I meet on Twitter, at conferences, through work, and socially, but I connect with people on this account more to keep a constant flow of circles and networks growing than anything else.

Obviously, y’all know how I use my blog. It’s basically just a space to share my ever constant flow of thoughts and ramblings…but also because I really love writing and I hope to share snippets of my life with others so that it may make waves in their life in some way. Hopefully that’s happening to some of you.


That’s my social media presence in a nutshell. Was it personal enough for you? Do you think that my profiles capture what I just shared with you? I hope so, because that is my intent. I really want to use my accounts to be personal and share my life experiences with others so that you get to know me in a deeper, more meaningful way. That being said, I also acknowledge the fact that others use social in far different ways and that is perfectly fine. Who am I to judge what someone else posts on social? Because I don’t have a clue what their life is like and what they’re experiencing. Why would I judge a stupid fricken social media post? After all, if they’re being personal, authentic, and can back up something that they post, I think they’re doing social media right.

All of my social media accounts are unprotected, meaning anyone can follow me at any time. I do this purposefully. I want people to connect with me. I want people to feel comfortable connecting with me. I want people – like future employers and students both – to see that I don’t have anything to hide or be ashamed of posting and if they have questions about something that I have posted on social that they believe is questionable, it is my hopes that they challenge me on it and bring it up in conversation.


Another thing that I want to point out about this awesome text message is that it made me realize that I am very transparent with my (ugh I did it again…) staff and students about social media use – especially when it comes to following me and other professionals.

I tell students that they can follow me on social, but that I am hesitant to follow back. I also tell them, that if I do happen to follow them back or their account is open and I see something that is questionable or concerning that I will have a conversation with them about it. I challenge any student or staff member that follows me to be conscious of the fact that I may or may not follow them back and that they need to be aware of the things that they post because of this. I encourage students to think about what they’re posting/sharing/creating and how it may impact the people who may see it. I remind students that perception is far greater than reality when it comes to social media and that social only shows certain viewpoints of life and we can’t get so caught up in that.

I realized from this text message that I am having these conversations about social all the time, but it took a simple text message from someone on my staff to make me think about the importance and relevance of self-care and self-preservation in this connected world.


Social media is crazy and can be destructive if not used properly. That’s why I think it is so important that we are thinking critically about social and how we use it. It’s also why I am so impressed by this RA and her willingness to confront me and express her concern for our connection on Twitter.

Someone that I care deeply and genuinely about and work with every day isn’t comfortable connecting with me on a certain platform because she knows herself well enough to know that the way she uses this channel is not an appropriate way of connecting with me. That is so cool! I’m really proud of her for that. I think we all should be thinking about this when connecting with others on social. We must be thinking about the messages that we are conveying to the world online.

Think about it y’all. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts and perspectives on this. Feel free to reach out!

-Joel

My #CSAM17 Story.

October is Careers in Student Affairs Month which means its the time of the year to focus on and celebrate all of the weirdos (like me) in the world who chose to pursue a career in Higher Education (more specifically, Student Affairs).

Like most people who wind up in this field, I stumbled into it unexpectedly while in college. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my future, but I loved every moment of college. I thrived in college!


I quickly became involved on campus my freshman year at Northern Michigan University, serving as the Vice President for my Residence Hall Council, joining different clubs and organizations on campus, and attending every event I possibly could.

After my great experiences in Hall Council, I knew I wanted to apply to be a Resident Adviser. The selection process was pretty intense and competitive, but I managed to survive…and was hired for a position my sophomore year. I worked as a RA in Meyland Hall for two years and had the best supervisor in the world – we’re still best friends today!

The summer before Junior year I was hired to be a New Student Orientation Staff Assistant and I spent that summer falling even more in love with Northern Michigan University.

Junior year I was a RA again and got super involved with the organization Marquette Ending Hunger! This group would soon become my Marquette Family and the “friends you meet in college that you will have forever”.

The summer before my Senior year was my second summer working with New Student Orientation and would be an even better summer than the first because it was my last summer in college and I lived up every moment!

Senior year I worked in the Center for Student Enrichment as a Coordinator for the Volunteer Center and the Superior Edge leadership program.


After four years of campus involvement and a growing passion for this work – and no clue what to do with my communications degree – I knew I had to go into Student Affairs.

I applied for graduate school, GA positions, and entry level full-time positions at universities across the nation. It was intense and scary, but I knew I was making the right decision.

I attended the Oshkosh Placement Exchange and interviewed with many institutions. I loved OPE – and found a GA position because of this great experience!

I was accepted into the Adult & Higher Education program at the University of South Dakota and was offered a graduate assistant position with Sorority & Fraternity Life.

While at USD, I was provided the opportunity to attend the NASPA regional conference in St. Louis and it was here that I became obsessed with professional conferences, networking with other Student Affairs professionals and deepened my love for this work.

Seeking even more work in this field, some time away from the Midwest and professional development opportunities, I applied for summer internships at other institutions through ACUHO-I. This search led me back to my housing roots when I was hired for a position with Residence Life and Conference Services at Western State Colorado University.

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In one month’s time, I gained more experience in this internship than I had the entire first year of grad school and when a position opened up in this department, I jumped at the chance to apply and stay in Colorado.


This all leads me to today. It is mid-October. I am laying in my hotel bed after just completing the ACPA Residential Curriculum Institute. I landed that open position that I applied for during my summer at Western and am still happy to be in Colorado! I am finishing my masters degree online through USD while working full-time!! It is a challenge, but is so worth it.


This is my story so far.

Here’s to writing more of it as I continue my way toward graduation and a bright future in this awesome field – with an even more awesome team!

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Residence Life staff
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My RAs and I
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Residence Life Professional Staff (minus Paul)
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Resident Directors

-Joel

*All photo credits: Western State Colorado University Social & Digital Media Coordinator, Taylor Cull.

*If you’re interested, I wrote a post last year for this same topic.

Making Waves.

My life mantra is “make waves” because I seek to live every day as the water does, ebbing and flowing, trying new things, being changed by the environment and giving back to the community around me.

In the last year, this mantra has become so important to me. I remind myself to live intentionally every day and to make waves in the lives around me, but also to allow my surroundings to make waves in my life as well. Living this way allows for growth, opportunity, spontaneity, and a lot of fun; it’s how I have found myself in so many new and exciting situations and places in the last year. I have made so many new friends, and gone to so many cool places and I hope to continue to do so…

Which brings me to this: I will be moving to Colorado!!!

I have spent the last two months in Gunnison, Colorado and have been serving as an intern at Western State Colorado University. This position has provided me so much experience as a professional. I have moved to a new location. I am working on a new campus. I am adapting to a new culture and community. I am supervising student employees. I am having a blast.

Working in this position has also provided me the opportunity to land a full-time professional position in the same department. That’s right, you heard me, I have landed my first #SAPro position as a Resident Director. I will be managing two buildings during the school year and will be coordinating housing arrangements for camps and conferences during the summer months. What a great opportunity!?

By jumping out of my comfort zone and trying new things, allowing my world to be changed by my environment, and focusing on building relationships and community in all that I do I have made waves here in this small community and it has made waves in my life in turn. I have stirred things up, brought something new, learned so much and am excited to keep doing this work.

I guess it pays to work hard and push through the seasons of life. Sometimes life comes crashing down and sometimes it’s a smooth sea, but if you don’t make a little waves in that smooth sea, nothing changes, and what is the fun in that?

I have only been in Sunny Gunni for two short months, but it has been two of the greatest months of my life. I truly believe this is a “right place at the right time” situation. I was meant to be here for my internship. I was meant to come to this campus. Western is a great fit for me and I am thrilled that my first professional position will be here in the Rocky Mountains where I will be working alongside an amazing team of professionals who will challenge and support me every day.

I’ll post updates as I know more information about my move and what this new role will be like. Stay tuned.

-Joel

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13 Reasons Why You Need To Watch This Netflix Series

I’m sure everyone reading this already knows, but Netflix recently released an original series called 13 Reasons Why, based on the novel written by Jay Asher. Both the novel and the series are incredible. If you haven’t read the book or watched the series, I suggest you do both.

Before you start, just know…it’s real. raw. explicit.

This story captures the issues that every day real people face. It tells the stories of adolescents, young adults, and students from middle school to college. It shares the emotions felt by parents, families, and friends. It captures love, hate, fear, heartbreak, loneliness, grief, and so many other feelings that can’t even be described and that you didn’t know you could feel.

I read the book a long time ago. I would guess like 10 years ago when the novel was originally released. I would have been 13. I was in middle school. Maybe I was a freshman in high school. I don’t remember for sure, but I definitely read it when I was very young.

I don’t think that I truly grasped the concepts that were explored in this story back then, but that seems like a lifetime ago, so I don’t know for sure. It also seems like the world was a lot nicer back then. A lot simpler. A lot easier to navigate. I love how Netflix modernized the series to make things a little more relevant to issues faced today.

Anywho…without spoiling too much of the plot, I would like to share why everyone – especially if you’re an educator, work with students, or are a parent – should watch this show or read this novel or maybe even both, like I did.


  1. Drug & alcohol use is everywhere: this show depicts drug and alcohol use among teens. Many of the high school students that are in this show experiment with drug and alcohol use – as do most high school students around the world…so seeing this in mainstream media is important for visibility – and partying. In addiction to shedding light on minors consuming drugs and alcohol, this show depicts broken homes and families because of drug use. I love that this show really emphasizes the fact that you don’t know what is happening in someone else’s life and what it may be like for someone behind closed doors.
  2. Bullying and cyber-bullying happens all the time: I feel like bullying is on the rise in today’s day and age of increasing social media and technology. Bullying has always been depicted in the media for as long as I can remember – cue the cartoon character being shaken from his feet for his lunch money – and it is still an issue today. I cannot believe that the world that we live in is just now starting to engage in conversations about bullying. But this show speaks to the nature of bullying, cyber-bullying, and the way in which people’s stories get twisted as they get shared across media platforms, texted, tweeted, and snapped to the world. It’s messed up. This amazing show finally sparked some chatter about this important issue. Get out there and engage in these conversations.
  3. It’s OK to not be OK: In the field of work that I am in, we CONSTANTLY talk about the importance of mental health, raising awareness and advocating for it to be OK to not be OK. People struggle. People go through crazy traumatic experiences. People deal with emotional issues. Depression and anxiety are real. And they are no joke. This story is about a web of young people who deal with anxiety, depression, and emotional trauma. The way in which all of this is portrayed is so authentic and genuine. But it is so important. I love the fact that this show did not shy away from these big topics and that they are making these issues visible to the world of Netflix.
  4. It’s time to start talking about suicide: Alright y’all, we talk about mental health stigmas and the importance of raising awareness and getting help for the ones we love. But even with the increase of these conversations, the stigma surrounding suicide is still prevalent today. WHY? Of course suicide is a tough topic to talk about, but if we aren’t having these conversations, no one is, and those suffering from mental health issues and self harm/hate don’t have anyone to turn to if there is no one who is comfortable with and open to talking about this. Show some empathy, look for signs, and reach out to those you love, even if you don’t think anything may be wrong, you never know who needs a smile and a hug today. If some of the characters in this story – and more people in real life – had spread love instead of hate, lives could have been saved. I don’t know about all of you reading, but I have seen too many young and beautiful lives lost too soon. This has to stop. Spread love, people!
  5. Because no one seems to know what consent is: You see this in the media ALL THE TIME. It is the reason that Vice President Joe Biden worked with Its On Us to create initiatives on college campuses to combat sexual assault and relationship violence. The message given to young people today is that it is awkward to ask for consent when instead the message should be that it’s sexy to ask your partner if what you’re doing is OK. The “hook up” culture that has somehow become the norm today, has taken consent completely out of the picture. And because there is so much gray area, there is an ungodly number of sexual assaults occurring. And what is worse is that no one even knows that they’re committing this horrendous act because all the lines are blurred and no one knows what’s right anymore. It’s disgusting. It’s on us to stop sexual violence! 13 Reasons Why brings light and visibility to this important and heavy issue. It may be one of the first media showings of something of this kind and it adds so so so much to this incredible story.
  6. Love is love and should be shared: It’s 2017 and the fight for love has been long fought and unfortunately continues to be fought today. The media is bringing couples of all different variations to pages, screens, and earbuds everywhere. No longer are the days of the traditional family. In 13 Reasons Why if people were more willing to be vulnerable and express love to one another, it would have made things a lot better – same is true in real life. What is a story about high school students if there isn’t relationship drama or some sort of love twist? Nothing. But in today’s world dating and love as a high school student is complicated and confusing. This story portrays the confusion of many characters in their pursuit for love. 13 Reasons Why brings visibility to almost every possible romantic couple that you can think of, and in today’s world it is so important to be visible for others of whatever community you belong to. It’s tough to navigate this world of love, but the underlying concept is that everyone is looking for it. Who cares? Just love and never stop.
  7. Shaming (body, slut, victim, etc.) of any sort is so not cool: Yes, everyone judges. We all have our inherent biases and prejudices that we can’t control – but we can work to overcome and grow out of them. The fact that it is so easy, so common, so accepted to shame someone based upon the way they look, the people they sleep with and the acts they engage in, or for being beaten or raped is screwed up. This story shows examples of shaming and it’s honestly repulsive. But we have to see this stuff in media to see how gross it is in real life. It has to stop. Things have to change. And this is the message told in this wonderful story.
  8. Self-love is key: It is so important to love yourself and to be proud of who you are, no matter what anyone else thinks about you. You are valuable, you are beautiful, you are original and one of a kind. Love yourself for that. Love yourself for who you are. Continue to love yourself and never let anything or anyone take your love away. If Hannah, or any of the other characters in 13 Reasons Why had given themselves a little more love, other people would have given it to them too. People feed into confidence and self-worth, and it is crucial for young people to be surrounded by others who are both self loving and givers of love. Keep this in mind as you work with young people – and everyone else for that matter.
  9. It takes a Community to raise a child: It seems like everyone in this story is somehow connected. Oh wait, they are. That’s because in a community, everything and everyone is effected by the actions of others. If we remember that we are always part of something so much bigger than ourselves, maybe even when the people right next to you aren’t treating you so well, you will realize that it gets better. There is a community for everyone and it takes a community to raise an individual. You simply have to find your community. So never give up, strive to find a community that you belong to and always strive to make it better.
  10. There are two sides to every story: 13 Reasons Why does a fantastic job with this one. You hear Hannah’s view of things from her tapes. You see Clay’s view of things as he is the character that is focused on most frequently. And then of course you see the view of every other character who is in the tapes as well. Some think Hannah is lying. Some don’t know the truth. Some change things around so that they look innocent or someone else looks guiltier than they are. But the underlying issue is that there is always two sides to every story and you don’t always know both sides. Tell your version, but hear out other people’s perspectives. Everyone’s lived experience is different so their perspective is going to be slightly altered from yours. Take this into consideration whenever you encounter a conflict.
  11. The role you play as an administrator is vital: Everyone viewing this show hates the counselor, am I right? He didn’t do his job, and he told Hannah to move on from something that she didn’t have the strength to move on from at the time. She reached out for help and he didn’t do his job. He shoved her off, made her a victim – yet again – and carried on with his busy day. I’m sorry, but if you’re in a role as an administrator of any kind you are viewed as a lifeline to many. Whether you’re a teacher, a counselor, a principal, a professor, or like me an adviser to students, your actions validate the thoughts of the young people around you. So if you don’t do your job right and you brush something off as unimportant, these young minds are going to tell themselves that you’re right and that they need to move on. But what if they can’t? Then it’s on you my friend. Listen. Listen. Listen. It is so important that you truly take the time to get to know your students and listen to what they’re going through. It’s so important that you act when someone comes to you for help. You’re an administrator for a reason. You’re a role model, a mentor, someone who has been there. So just listen. And act accordingly.
  12. Teenage thought process & experience is accurately portrayed: Being a teenager, an adolescent, and even a young adult is so hard. It’s awkward. It’s confusing. And yet it’s so simple. The thought processes expressed in this show are the same thought processes that you and I went through when we were growing up. If you’re a younger reader, you may relate to these characters on some level now. That is OK. We’ve all been there. This is a pretty accurate portrayal of what it’s like to be a young person. Never think that you’re the only one who is feeling like Hannah, or Clay, or Justin, or Jessica, or anyone else. There is always someone else out there feeling the same way that you do. So hang in there pals!
  13. 13 Reasons Why is really great storytelling: Because I refuse to end this list on a negative note and a call to do better, I thought I would end with something positive. If you watch this series for none of the reasons that I listed above, watch simply because it is really great storytelling. It is exceptionally cheesy – as are all high school dramas. There is intrigue, a bit of a mystery, a handful of crimes, love and emotion, and many elements that make great stories. Give it a shot. It you don’t like it that’s fine. It’s pretty controversial, so I get it. It’s real and raw and doesn’t shy away from pretty intense things. If you don’t think you can watch it. OK. It’s all good. Just know that the buzz about this show is for good reason. If you work with young people chat with them about this series and get some conversations started. You never know where good storytelling like this can take you.

Side note: even though I loved this show and I thought that it did a very good job bringing up hot button items and issues, I do have to make note that I don’t agree with how glamorous Netflix made the act of suicide. This show presents suicide in a kind of intriguing way. Suicide should never be an act of revenge or spite like it was in this series. This series makes it seem like the message is “if you’re going to commit suicide, then go out with a bang and make it flashy” but that shouldn’t be the message that viewers receive. So if you’re watching this and that is the perception that you have…I feel you. I agree with you.


Sorry that this post was a little more intense than what they usually are. Thank you for sticking it out and reading the whole thing! I appreciate it. I just feel passionately about these issues because they are things that I see my students facing everyday. They’re topics that I talk about and read about for class. They’re headlines in college newspapers across the country. This show hits close to home for me and a lot of people in this world so keep that in mind next time you find yourself judging someone, using a derogatory phrase, sharing something on social media, or you’re out at a party.

Sending all of my love to everyone effected by any of the issues mentioned above. I am always here for you. You are not alone.

-Joel

Philanthropy.

I’ve discovered that one of my favorite things about working for Sorority and Fraternity Life is the endless opportunities provided to support my students in pursuing their passions. Perhaps the best way that I can do this is by attending philanthropy events hosted by each chapter or auxiliary group. I am able to combine my own interests in community service/giving back and student development in one great event. Boom! Double Whammy!

Whether I am running a 5k, or filling my face at a pasta, burrito, or chili feed, I am always willing to pay a small price and to give back to something great all while seeing my students work towards something they love.

Because each national fraternity and sorority chapter is affiliated with a national philanthropy organization and USD has 12 national chapters on campus, there is an abundance of opportunity for me to support my students and support something larger than myself.

This weekend, one of our sorority chapters (Alpha Xi Delta) held a 5k run in support of their national philanthropy organization, Autism Speaks. My immediate thought was what a great event! I get to combine my passion for running with my passion for supporting my students and this amazing organization. Of course I am going to be there. This run, unfortunately, was held the day after St. Patrick’s Day-If you work on a college campus, have ever been to college, or have seen any Hollywood movie, you know that college kids celebrate every single holiday in proper alcoholic fashion-and I did not foresee it having a large attendance, which made me want to go even more.

I showed up early the morning of the event with my good friend, Lucy, paid our student fee-$15 all going to Autism Speaks. Very reasonable, even on a grad student budget-and waited for more people to show. To my surprise, at the start of the run, there were quite a few participants lined up and ready to go. I was loving this.

The race came and went…and dragged on for some (hungover) participants…but everyone was very positive about it. I mean how can you not be positive about philanthropy? Joining together to support an amazing cause-whether over a run or food or something else entirely-is magical, and we as a Greek community do it ALL THE TIME.

I have been attending chapter philanthropy events all year long, and it took this one event to make me realize the importance of fraternal organizations and their partnerships with national philanthropies. Service and brotherhood/sisterhood are just two of the values that many Greek organizations are founded on, and at every single philanthropy event hosted each academic year these values are displayed. How freaking cool is that?

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me (the 5k winner) and the lovely ladies of Alpha Xi Delta at the finish line

It is my hope that each student sees the importance of their role in philanthropy and that they’re not just doing it because it’s another event hosted by their fraternity or sorority chapter. It may not be today, or tomorrow, but I hope that each and every chapter member is impacted by their experience with service, and that they carry it with them forever-and perhaps even more importantly, share it with others.

I am excited to finish out the year and to continue supporting each chapter and their mission to give back to the community and to their national philanthropies. I’m ending the year with high hopes for the things to come.

In love and service,

-Joel

Friendship.

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My best friend, Monica and I at Badlands National Park

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. And I will continue to say it. I’m a woo. I love the challenge of meeting new people, making friends, and winning others over. For me, meeting people and making friends is thrilling. It’s an adventure. A high.

It’s always been easy for me to make friends and it’s something I am proud of. My ability to win others over and build friendships is part of who I am. You don’t typically see me without someone by my side.

I like to think that my personality attracts others and that is why I have a tendency to make many friends and why I can jump from group to group. But I have never thought about what actually goes into making friends. Until recently.

As I continue to assess my values and the things that make me tick, I realize that the things that I value are things that I see in others-especially those closest to me. The most important aspects of my life are shared with the most important people in my life. I see my values embodied in the character traits of my friends.


I am not trying to brag or to scream about the multitude of friends that I have. The intention of this post is not that at all. I just want to explore the inner workings of friendships and how friendships evolve over time as we as individuals evolve and transform as we experience the world around us.

I believe friendship is fluid. It is something that takes work and constantly changes. We have the ability to put thought and effort into friendships and to change our minds about friends at any time. I believe that the roles that our friends play in our lives are fluid as well. People enter and exit our lives at different points for a reason. The role that they played years ago may be different from the role they currently play in your life.


I have best friends, ride or dies, close friends, acquaintances and friends-of-friends, convenient friends, and even online friends.

I have childhood friends, high school classmates, college roommates, and colleagues that I consider friends. Each one serves a different purpose in my life. Each one is wildly different from the next and is valuable to me in a vastly different way.

I believe we have relationships with different people for different reasons. Friends come and go at different times of your life. And sometimes this is hard to grasp. In fact, I really struggle with this concept. As a woo, I fight so hard to build a relationship and cultivate it so that it grows, and sometimes I feel like I put far more investment into my relationships than others. That’s fine, but it can be exhausting too.


When I moved to South Dakota, I knew no one. This was exciting. It meant there was a new challenge. A time to build new relationships and make new friends. That’s exactly how I approached this move. And I have made some amazing new friends in the short time that I have lived in Vermillion.

In reverse of this, moving far away meant long-distance relationships with all of my friends from Michigan. I didn’t think anything of this at the time. I was so excited to try something new and I felt so strongly about the relationships that I had with my friends that I didn’t think that the distance would be a big deal or that maintaining our relationships would be difficult. I was wrong.

It takes a lot of work to maintain long-distance relationships. I see why long-distance romantic relationships don’t always work out. I totally get it now.


I guess these thoughts have crossed my mind because I just spent the majority of my spring break by myself and while it was refreshing, it was also lonely. Suddenly it felt like all of my friends were gone. I realized this week how convenient college is and how you become friends with people because they literally live with you and you see them every day. This is not what it is like in the real world and I am not sure that I am emotionally ready for this absence of friends. I realized how much work I put into the relationships with those around me as well as the relationships with my friends from home.

I was reminded of this post I saw a while ago. I have followed Jedidiah Jenkins on Instagram for some time now, and I am often inspired by his words. It is people like him who reiterate my love for language, words, and the power of voice. In this post he writes about friends, and this concept of “friendlies”. I saved this post as a reminder for moments like this-when I am feeling the inconveniences of long-distance relationships and maintaining friendships as an adult.


I guess what I am trying to say in this post is that if you’re reading this, you probably know me pretty well. We have a friendship, a relationship that is special. One that is far different from any friendship that I have with anyone else. Know that I value you. I love you. And even if I don’t call, text, or write you every day-or even every month-I still consider you a friend. I know that you are here to serve a purpose and bring something of value to my life-and I yours. It may be guidance, a listening ear, laughter, advice for the future, a refined sense of adventure, or a new music selection. Whatever your role in this friendship, I appreciate it. Thank you!

Huge shout out to my supervisor, Sarah, for shedding some light on adulting and maintaining friendships. I appreciate you listening and pulling me out of my spring break funk.


Remember…find your tribe and stick with them.

Big love,

-Joel