It can be frustrating…however, in the storm..REMEMBER YOUR PASSIONS!

At the beginning of this semester, my Director of Residential Education tasked all of the staff to find a passion project to will align with one of our strengths from StrenghtsFinder 2.0. This idea came from a “Ted-Talk” presentation that discussed the fact that when we work on topics that provide us with align with our passions or strengths that we will begin to feel more invested and have a sense of accomplishment with our daily work. Looking at my strengths, the one that really stood out to me was empathy. I have always found that I have the ability to listen to others and to try and develop a way to assist them with situation in which they are involved or providing with advice for how to address their various scenarios. Unfortunately, I still felt left in a void, as I did not know how to tie a passion project into showing empathy for others. It wasn’t until a student asked me about how I got involved in Student Affairs that it all came together.
I often joke that I was “tricked” into entering this field by my Dean of Students at Otterbein College, Dean Robert Gatti; and the former Director of Ethnic Diversity, Angela Harris. I was the type of student who came to college, willing and ready to soak up everything. I was always told to get involved, and that I did. I began serving on a the Professional Leadership Diversity committee as a student representative where I sat with department heads and Deans of Colleges looking at various ways that we could promote diversity and inclusion; and soon with a student group D.E.S.I.R.E which stood for Diversity Education Scholars Involved in Reaching and Educating; where we were charged with promoting diversity initiatives within the residence halls and student organizations. All of this while working in the Student Affairs office for Angela, and assisting with our campus inclusion programs. Needless to say, they saw something in me, that at that time I did not understand and they encouraged me to look into this field.
Over the time of being involved in various leadership trainings and through my graduate assistantships, I had the opportunity to work on diversity and inclusion; however, it seemed that once I became a professional within Residential Education, my life had been more consumed with crisis protocols, judicial, and ensuring the wellness of my residents…and less about the passion that drove me into this field.
Therefore, once I sat and thought about my passion, and my strengths…I found that this was a great opportunity for me to sit and really start finding my passion again, and to work on tuning my “expertise” area. Over the course of this semester, I have worked on re-reading old training sessions which I had the pleasure of participating in, as well as re-reading old presentations I created and books from my graduate studies. I find that Thursday, the day I devote to my diversity passion; has become one of my favorite days, because it allows me the opportunity to engulf my time and energy into something that I still believe whole-heartedly, and furthermore allows me to develop new ways in which I can incorporate these passions into my daily work as a Residence Director…and ultimately providing me opportunities to gain experiences that will assist me with taking my next step as a professional.
In this field, we have a tendency to become “work horses” and go through our daily operations completing our tasks and working with our students figure out their paths and passions; however, how many times to we actually get the opportunity to sit and work on ourselves? I encourage everyone to sit and reflect on the following questions:
– Why did I become a student affairs practitioner?
– Are the reasons that I am still in student affairs, the same passion that attracted me to the position?
– Is there a way that I can infuse my passions into my daily work? If so, how… If not, what other outlets do you have to demonstrate your passion?
By completing the task given to me by my Director of Residential Education, I have found that I am much more focused and in some ways feel as I am adding value to the Department as the “resident expert” in the area. I hope that this exercise will provide you with the same feeling! Good Luck!

Kyle R. Williams, MSEd
Residence Director, The College of New Jersey
Treasurer, The Jersey Alliance

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