The Power of Student Government in Shaping the Campus Community

* This post was originally featured on The Student Affairs Hub.

College students have long used the campus environment to work towards positive social change. The very nature of a university encourages this sort of intellectual discourse, and a common way for students to get involved in making a difference on campus is through student government. It allows for students to debate important campus topics, and provides a platform for the institution to directly hear the needs of the student body.

The beauty of student government is that it is typically accessible to all students. New incoming students can be encouraged to find a voice within this organization, meet fellow students, and start making their legacy known at their institution (Trust me, they'll thank you for the legacy stuff come graduation time).

I found out about the power of student government far too late into my undergraduate career. In my final year, I was passionate about getting hydration stations installed on campus, to provide cold, clean and filtered water in a sustainable way that would reduce the use of plastic water bottles while encouraging healthier habits in students. I realized a way to start to make this change possible was to lobby the student government to accept a stance of advocating for these to become a part of the community. Once they accepted, within months there were a few of these stations popping up around campus. This felt so inspiring to accomplish in such a short amount of time!

Perhaps they were already planning on doing this, but at the very least, through my efforts, the student body representatives let their voice be heard and for the future, the administration would know that students wanted to have the hydration stations and would feel more accountable to do so.

Especially for new, incoming students, building confidence, connections, and communication skills are all pretty valuable goals for student affairs professionals. So I encourage you to empower your students to get involved in student government. Even more importantly, I encourage you to bring students to the table and let them be heard when it comes to decision making. They'll have some important insights and they are the ones who it will affect, so I think it is only fair to hear them out. At the very least, they'll benefit from the experience.

The Secret to Helping Your Students Find Themselves


* This post was edited from one originally posted on The Student Affairs Hub.

I wasn't the most adventurous person when I was growing up. I only ever really went to the places I knew and ate the foods I knew I liked. While this tendency will always be a part of who I am, I've started to make intentional attempts to travel more, try more, and just get out of my comfort zone more.

You know that line about where the magic happens? Yeah, that's what I'm talking about here.

I have gone to more cities in our great country, started blogging, and have put myself out into the professional world meeting colleagues and forming connections, which as a proud introvert, is hard for me at times. I might mumble and grumble going against my nature, but afterwards, I'm always glad I made the effort to get out of my shell. I'm even planning my first trip outside of the country with my partner! I never would have thought I'd want to do a lot of these things or even have the opportunity to do them. I'm grateful for the growth these different opportunities in my life have given me and I know that students have the potential to experience the same learning.

As a student at college (or someone who works with them), there are ample opportunities to find ways to get out and experience more new things. That could be because someone is just in a new area while you're at college, it could be joining a new club or organization, applying for a job (on-campus or off), it could mean going on an alternative break trip to do service, or going away to study for a semester abroad. All of these hold value for engaging in an experience that, even if it is not exactly what was hoped for, students will get out of their comfort zone and learning new things about themselves, and the world around them.

So, making someone take risks, face fears, and embrace discomfort is easier said than done but the importance and value of the experience far outweigh whatever reticence a student might have. What we have to do as student affairs professionals is nudge our students to the zone of proximal development as it applies here, or in other words, where challenge and support are primed for growth and learning for students. They don't feel too safe or too challenged, but the discomfort is enough to allow for them to learn something new. For example, a student could learn a lot by traveling to a new city in the US with a group of fellow students, but it could be too much for them at once to perhaps travel alone to a new country.

Students will also simply listen to their trusted mentors on taking risks and finding their identity outside of their comfort zones. Our faith in them and our knowledge of the benefits of the aforementioned experiences help urge a student to go for it. I know when I was an undergraduate student, I never would have thought to apply to be an RA (which was far out of my comfort zone) but a few recommendations to do so from professional staff members helped send me other the edge and give it a shot. Five years later, here I am having found a career I love and I owe it all to the encouragement of others.

I urge you to urge your students to get out and experience new things. I'm sure they'll thank you for it.

Thanks for stopping by!

On One Year of Podcasting

SAC Podcast Today marks one year ago exactly to when the first episode of The Student Affairs Spectacular Podcast (let's call it SA Podcast for short) premiered. Since then, we've had almost 50 awesome episodes with student affairs professionals all over the country (and even abroad in Canada). I've learned a lot from these great people about our work with college students, and have also learned a lot about myself. I wanted to share with you all some of my reflections and lessons learned from this first year.


A big lesson I've learned after a year of producing, hosting, and editing this podcast has been the value of preparation. When we started this endeavor, we had just began sourcing guests and kept pace well with our weekly episodes. However, there were certain times last year (especially when I was in full fledged job search mode or our team was away at conferences) that we had to scramble to get episodes. We also had some technical issues get in the way of keeping up with our weekly schedule. It was nice to take a break for the winter holidays as it allowed me to reset and get ahead of the schedule to where now I have episodes lined up for weeks in advance already recorded. The whole process has been far more enjoyable and less stressful this year due to my intentional effort put in to preparing ahead of time.


The whole premise of the SA Podcast is fun, engaging, and relevant conversations with and for student affairs folks. I would not have ever considered myself a conversationalist but this show has made me into one more and more with each week. The quality of the show hinges on my asking of good questions, validating answers, and keeping a good flow going with each dialogue. I like to think I've done an alright job with this, and nevertheless, I've seen the benefits start to spill over into my non-podcasting life. I talk to students and colleagues all the time in my day job as well as my partner at home and I know the universal skills I mentioned before have come in handy. I listened more intently and I ask questions more purposefully. While I still have a lot of room for growth, I've seen a positive impact already in terms of how I talk to people, am I'm very grateful for that.


The SA Podcast couldn't happen without the help of my fellow team members. Tom and I have hosted together as well as hosted our own episodes of the show, and I've interviewed some amazing people in our field that I look up to solely based on connections through Tom or the confidence I've built to reach out to people on my own. Sabina also is the community manager extraordinaire who helps get the episodes out every week and promoted to our audience. I'm very grateful to have their support and assistance as well as the opportunity the do this. It is a dream come true and I'm excited to do every episode. I couldn't do it alone so both Tom and Sabina deserve a big shout out.

I hope to keep providing engaging content and to keep learning about myself from the SA Podcast for years to come. Thanks to all those that listen and if you haven't checked it out yet, go do it now!

Thanks for stopping by!

What I'm Geeking Out About This Week - 08/22/14


Welcome to another week of my perpetual geek outs!

Since I didn't want to not post this week and having been busy recently with my job, I'm going to do something a little different this time around. This is a forward looking edition of what I'm geeking out about. I'm going to share some books I looking forward to geeking out about so hopefully we can read along together in the coming months. Enjoy!

I want to tackle these three distinct books for a variety of personal interests so I hope you can check out one or all of them!

Thanks for stopping by!

In Defense of Couples Who Profess Their Love on Social Media


"’s not the responsibility of the people in your Facebook feed to stop’s on us as individuals to figure out how to be happy for other people’s happiness and not translate someone else’s success into our own personal’s not the responsibility of our Facebook friends to live smaller lives. It’s our responsibility to be bigger people."

I read this post a while ago from Hello Giggles about a recent study on how people react to those people we all know who overshare about how much they love their partners. It came to the obvious conclusion that people were adverse to those couples that gush about one another endlessly on social media. The answer there is simple; moderation.

What I really connected with in this article though was about how a lot of people are mad, sad, or upset when other people in their feeds are happy or doing well. It taps into this energy within us that embodies our jealousies, our doubts, our anxieties, and we focus on someone else's chosen way to express their happiness and we get angry that one of our friends is celebrating a success in their life. Shouldn't we be happy for our friends' happiness?

I certainly admit I struggle with this very thing so when I read this article, it definitely hit very close to home for me. In my ongoing quest for ultimate "zen status" where I am at peace with the world and everyone in it, I take this on as my next challenge. I'm going to not get jealous or envious when someone I care about is doing well. I am going to be glad and celebrate the joys of my friends and family, because there is no harm to me if those around me do well. We're all on the same team and we all just want to be loved, to be secure, and to be able to enjoy ourselves while we're on this massive spinning rock called Earth. Lets all make it a more positive, supportive place for us all to be happy and for us all to celebrate that happiness however we see fit.

I hope you are inspired by this simple idea like I was.

Thanks for stopping by.

Updates from the New Job!

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Hey there friends,

I just wrote a post for The Student Affairs Collective about my first few weeks at my new job. Check it out for some formal thoughts and learning that has gone on since I got here.

Thanks for stopping by and have an awesome day!

What I Learned From A Night Out & A List Of Great Questions


I had an awesome night out recently...

I went out with a group of my coworkers who I knew to varying extents in my as of that moment, short stint working with them at my new job. Our plans for the night had hit a wall so we all decided to just hang out at a local draft house to chat and relax after a long week. When there was a natural lull in the conversation, I noted how I love great questions and have collected a list over time. This peaked my colleagues' interest and I started rattling off some of the questions to the group. After a few questions (and maybe a few drinks) we were sharing stories and experiences from our lives and bonding over the deep dialogue we were having.

I learned some profound things from evening that I feel like can be helpful to others, especially my colleagues out in the wide world of student affairs. I learned the importance of people feeling safe, the value in self-disclosure, and the power of great questions.

Throughout the course of the evening, I made sure to really listen to the people in my group. They were sharing very personal anecdotes at times so I wanted to really hear them and appreciate their bravery being vulnerable with the group. We all got meta at times where we felt like I was being a group therapist but many of the skills I learned in my counseling courses during graduate school are just great tips for life when listening to people and encourage genuine emotional connections. No one would have been into my gauntlet of questions for us all to get know each other better if they hadn't felt safe in the group. Everyone bought in and helped create a safe environment, even in a public place like a bar, which was an important foundation to build off of for the entirety of the discussion.

Being an unofficial leader of the discussion as the keeper of the questions, I had an important role in the discourse. While people felt safe through my active listening and appreciation of their vulnerability, taking it all one step further was my own self-disclosure. I didn't fancy myself better than anyone else there and would often give my own answers first, if not second. I have a strong feeling the steam of the conversation would run out pretty quick if I was never sharing anything about myself

Lastly, the engine of this fascinating chat I had was my questions. I felt out the vibes of the group and kept my questions to more positive ones that asked about interesting concepts like what would be your desired superpower, your personal motto, the best vacation you ever had, and what profession you'd like to attempt other than your own. People shared as much or as little as they wanted and weren't made to share anything too vitriolic. The questions were some of my own creation, submissions from others, and some from the famous list used on Inside the Actor's Studio. Great questions get people thinking and sharing beyond topics relegated for "small talk". My all-time favorite question was the inspiration for one of my favorite blog posts, and simply asks "what do you geek out about?". I've gotten a wide array of answers to this question and it never fails to get a great conversation going since people are talking about what they love.

I always like to gleam grandiose life lessons from even the most mundane things. This night is a simple example of how personal conversations can create deep connections and allow for great positive change. People learned new things about people they thought they knew and appreciated each other not only for sharing, but for the new things they learned about one another. I hope for more fun nights like this in the future and I hope you can have some of your own too.

If you have any awesome questions you'd like to submit, leave a comment or tweet at me.

Thanks for stopping by!