January, 2012. It is the start of a new year, and for all of us in Higher Education, it’s the start of a new semester. What may be less obvious is the fact that this is also a time of new beginnings in the Chinese Zodiac calendar. In preparation for celebrating Chinese New Year with my students, I have learned that 2012 will be the year of the Dragon. Now, this might sound crazy, but I have come to the conclusion that many of us who read this blog probably share some commonalities with the Chinese Zodiac Dragon. (Stay with me on this one. There is actually some logic to it!)
Do any of the following characteristics remind you of yourself, or of any of your Student Affairs colleagues? According to chinesezodiac.com, the Dragon is ambitious, driven, and willing to take risks. Dragon people are passionate about their work. They frequently help others, but are often reluctant to ask for help. (Sound familiar?) Moreover, Dragons are described as having “colorful personalities,” and a “hard-working nature.” (Remind you of any Higher Ed professionals who thrive in the spotlight, or who diligently work all those extra hours in preparation for Orientation?) Finally, people born under the sign of the Dragon are described as preferring to lead, rather than being led, and they gravitate toward careers that allow them to express their creativity.
As I read the Dragon’s description, I couldn’t help but make the connection to many of us who work in Student Affairs! The adjectives are right on target with many descriptors I would use for myself, for many of my coworkers, and for some of my former classmates from graduate school. For me, the timing of having researched the Dragon sign was coincidental with The Jersey Alliance’s preparations for the Big Ideas Conference. Getting ready for this conference has required us to take on new challenges. While attempting to erase our preconceptions of traditional conferences, we are constantly digging deeper, looking for ways to be innovative. This is a project that certainly offers opportunities for innovation, for leadership, and for “colorful personalities” to shine.
It is fitting that the Big Ideas Conference is making its debut during a Dragon year. The Chinese Zodiac predicts this year to be an energetic year of optimism; and I simply find some entertainment, plus a little bit of inspiration, in the timing. For anyone reading this blog, regardless of your role or interest in the conference, I hope 2012 is a happy and successful year for you, both personally and professionally. May this be a year that we each channel our inner Dragon in our willingness to take risks, our inclination toward leadership, and our passion for working with students in Higher Education. Make it a great year!
Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs, College of Saint Elizabeth
Member at Large, The Jersey Alliance