Geeky Office Décor Series: Mauricio Gómez Montoya

This week we're featuring the awesome office of Mauricio Gómez Montoya, Retention Specialist with the Office of Multicultural Affairs at the University of Kansas.

Here's what Mauricio had to say about his space:

"I love my job. It’s challenging, rewarding and ultimately really fun. However, if I’m going to spend over 40 hours per week at work, I’m gonna make this place look and feel like home. I’m a huge Marvel & Star Wars fan, I also love sports and cultural artifacts. I’ve tried to blend these interests into the look of my office. Initially, I did this because of what I thought these items said about me. It made me feel “cool” and express my interests. I’ve noticed that the decoration of my office has inspired my students to trust me more if I put myself out there. I they feel like they really know me.

Over the last year, I’ve asked students if I should “rebrand”. I’m progressing in my career and it has made me questioning if there is room for a Tie Fighter or a Spider-Man poster in the office of a Senior Student Affairs Administrator. After many conversations with my students, I realize that there is. My students (and some colleagues) made me promise to not get rid of my “nerdy stuff” when I advance. They gave me a different perspective on the issue. It’s not what my office says about me, it’s about how students feel when they’re in it. One of my students said: "I feel intimidated when all I see are degrees and encyclopedias in my faculty’s office. But Spider-Man? I can talk about Spider-Man.”

Good practices in Student Affairs rely on relationships across campus. Relationships are based in trust. If your students (and colleagues) know you, they will trust you and if they trust you, they’ll listen to you. I’ve bonded on several occasions with students because of the conversation starters in my office. Whether it is the giant Spidey poster on the wall, the Gumball dispensing Yoda on my desk or the Jimi Hendrix portrait, students feel like they can relate and ultimately, feel more comfortable.

These conversations have lead me to think it’s time to redefine the idea of professionalism in student affairs."

What I really like about Mauricio's office is that it features Spider-Man (a personal favorite of mine), as well as the other diverse interests that he showcases in his space. I also appreciate how Mauricio shared the doubt he experienced as he thought about moving up professionally. I think we can all be our genuine selves no matter what we want to do professionally. Especially in our field, we should be encouraging professionals to be themselves so that we showcase a positive example for our students. I know it was transformative for me to accept that I can be myself and also be an effective leader and professional. It's awesomely poignant that Mauricio's students helped him realize that he should keep his geeky decorations up in his office.

Many thanks to Mauricio for sharing his space with us.

Stay tuned for more awesome offices in the coming weeks!

Thanks for stopping by!

Reflecting On All the Things I've Done

Clist2 I have felt at some points in my life that I have had a tragically mundane, ordinary life that hasn't had much good or bad happen in it. It was a depressing thought to consider, especially in my darker moments, but recently, I've taken time to sit down and put my mental energy to work writing down all my "greatest hits" (just like with Charlie Pace in one my favorite television shows of all time, Lost). Moments in my life, big or small, that I'm proud of. They include the places I've traveled, the accomplishments I've achieved, and the small things we should all think of more. Here are some specific examples of what I'm talking about:

  • Smiled so much my face hurt
  • Presented at a national conference
  • Visited Las Vegas, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, DC
  • Gone to a comedy club
  • Gave good lives to my pets

Some of these things are concrete experiences in my life that I am happy to have done. Even if they aren't that special to others, they're special to me. Others are things I look back and affirm for myself. People can have regrets, doubts, and think negatively about the experiences in their life, but I challenge myself to think positively. I can never know for certain if I gave a good life for my pets, they can't tell me, but I choose to believe that I did based on the memories I have and the things I did for my two wonderful dogs I had growing up.

I'm keeping a list of experiences I want to partake in before I turn 30 in a few years. I'm making intentional efforts to accomplish them and keep updating my list of "greatest hits". It will help me in my darker moments realize that I have lived a full life and have the ability to take actions to make change my life.

I encourage folks to do something similar to this to keep the positivity flowing in their lives. Things like this or a happiness journal can let us be more mindful of what happens around us each day, and what brings us joy.

Thanks for stopping by!

Book Review: Start Something That Matters


"A leader can create a company, but a community creates a movement."

My latest review is for the 2012 book by Blake Mycoskie, Start Something That Matters, which chronicles the beginnings of his company, TOMS, and the lessons he has learned from the journey.

I really enjoyed this book. It was an easy read with some great takeaways, good stories, and a positive message. It's a message I can certainly get behind and have believed in for a while now. I always try to vote with my dollars and make globally conscious purchases. Every company should incorporate such tenets into their organization, seeking to make the greatest positive social impact they can with their efforts, whatever it is. They can donate money, time, or resources to help others, and we'll all benefit in the end. It just seems that it is far easier for a lot of people and groups to be selfish and not empathize with the struggles of others (especially if they cannot relate, and never went through such struggles). The good part about all this is that it is never too late to start making a difference in people's lives.

Some of the other quotes I took away from this book were:

"...To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. [Often attributed to Elisabeth-Anne Anderson Stanley]"

"In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity. —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow"

"Today’s successful leaders are those willing to share credit as much as possible, who give away as much as they can, and who promote an environment of creative cooperation instead of rabid competition."

What I like about TOMS is that it is a for-profit, social good company. They can exist, and they can do just as much good in the world (if not more) by working to make a profit. Their shoes and other items are desirable and valuable, and by working to make money, they can use those profits to make a positive social impact. A lot of other companies have followed in the footsteps of TOMS in recent years, and I think that's a beautiful thing. I love my TOMS shoes and my Warby Parker glasses, and my Krochet Kids hat. They all have the added benefit of helping others in need around the whole world. What's not to love?

Check out Start Something That Matters at any of your favorite book retailers!

Thanks for stopping by!

Geeking Out: “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”

I have a problem. I’m borderline obsessed with the new Netflix series, “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” I am on my third round of watching the series and I am unapologetic. This has been incredibly easy to do since there are only 13, 30-minute episodes and the writing is so fast, and so funny, that it is easy to lose yourself in the series. Throw in the incredible Ellie Kemper in the lead role as Kimmy, amazing supporting characters, and the series being the brainchild of Tina Fey, and I was hooked. maxresdefault

There is so much to geek out about this little gem of a series. The pop culture references, the hilarious turn of Jon Hamm in the most unexpected of roles, Tina Fey doing a spot on impression of Marcia Clark (one of the lead attorneys from the OJ Simpson trial, for all of those people not of age in the 90s), plus Kimmy’s roommate Titus Andromedon being one of the most entertaining characters in recent history, the series makes for pure fun. The premise of the show puts Kimmy as one of four women who were locked in an underground bunker as part of a doomsday cult since 1990. We meet Kimmy and the other women as they are rescued from the bunker and attempt to start their lives after being without TV, internet, phone, magazines, or music from 1990-2015. As you can imagine, hilarity ensues with the “Indiana Mole Women.”

Kimmy moves to New York City to start her life again. She is 30 years old, has missed everything from the past 15 years, and has to unlearn so many things about how the world works, but her positivity never wanes. Kimmy has a lot to be angry, resentful, and depressed about after being locked away for 15 years. She missed the Clinton era, Hurricane Katrina, *NSYNC, purple ketchup, and more. She thinks her boss’ MacBook was a giant iPhone, calls hashtags “hashbrowns,” and is thrilled that her closet of a room has a window.

If you haven’t seen the series, all you may know about the show is the catchy as hell theme song that [fair warning!] will be stuck in your head for weeks. While the jokes are funny and storylines are ridiculous, the best part of the series for me is Kimmy’s unbreakable spirit. She is positive, in the face of horrific circumstances, and that is what makes her simultaneously relatable and aspirational.

I have found my professional home in student affairs, particularly within residence life. There are lots of things that I love about my work, but there are so many things that are hard, jarring, depressing, and life-altering about the work of supporting students. On a typical day, we deal with physical altercations, or students who come to our campuses with severe psychological issues that only intensify once the added stress of classes and independent living descends. Students come to us experiencing gender-based violence, extreme financial stress, unrealistic family expectations, citizenship challenges, food and housing insecurity, and varying levels of parental involvement, ranging from suffocating to non-existent. And, on our worst days, we comfort families and friends in their shock and grief when members of our communities pass away.

Meeting students in some of their hardest moments takes a toll. It can be hard to find anything positive in a hard day, and yet, very much like Kimmy, student affairs has the opportunity to be unbreakable. It seems like every day there is another expose, talking head, or article pointing to the demise of higher education. Where the hell are we supposed to start? The ballooning student debt crisis? The rampant racism running throughout campuses? Gender-based violence finally seeing the light of day? Those in the academy who blame student affairs administration for the financial bloat which is contributing to these problems? It’s overwhelming.

And yet, I find myself enjoying my work. Having fun, laughing, taking moments to appreciate the moments of change and challenge. Does this make me a Pollyanna? An ostrich with her head in the sand? Hopelessly naive? Or does this make me like Kimmy, albeit it on a smaller scale? Could it actually be possible to hold both of those concepts simultaneously, that awful things happen on our campuses every single day, but we still have the choice, and perhaps the responsibility to approach our work with a positive attitude?

In one of my favorite episodes, Kimmy stands in her truth, fully aware of her traumatic history, in the middle of Times Square, and says to her roommate, “Life beats you up. You can either curl up in a ball and die or you can stand up and say, ‘We’re different and you can’t break us.’” Student affairs, take a lesson from this Indiana Mole Women: Let’s be unbreakable.


Marci Walton is a student affairs professional interested in residence life, social justice, service, and the intersectionality of identity. Passionately curious about social media, women’s leadership and finding the perfect spot to admire the Pacific. Current Californian, but a Buckeye through and through. Connect with her on Twitter and at her blog.

Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up


"...when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t, and what you should and shouldn’t do."

This recent book from Marie Kondo looks at how we can get our entire lives in order by "tidying up". By this, Kondo means going through all of your belongings and critically interrogating if you need them and if they bring you joy. Items that you don't need or items that don't bring you joy must be sold, donated, recycled, or just thrown out. The author outlines a detailed order of how to go about this process and guarantees success and commitment to the tidying you do. She has helped thousands of people get their lives tidied and this has enabled them to become happier and healthier people in several different ways.

What I plugged to in about this book was its undercurrent emphasis on minimalism. It was recommended to me after a conversation on the matter, and I was able to breeze through the book to gain the main points. I don't need to advice personally as I feel as though I already bought into the philosophy behind it. It does give a very thorough outline for others to follow though, which is something I like about it. The book has a simple point to make and if that is all it was, it could just be condensed to a blog post, but it gives you an actionable framework to follow to make your life better right away.

A great quote I enjoy is concerning keeping old papers:

"My basic principle for sorting papers is to throw them all away. My clients are stunned when I say this, but there is nothing more annoying than papers. After all, they will never inspire joy, no matter how carefully you keep them. For this reason, I recommend you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely."

I don't like paper to begin with but a few things really do need to be printed and kept. Most of the paper we get and have does not, so we can recycle all that paper and remove the clutter and burden from our lives.

I recommend this book for anyone looking to clear the clutter of their lives. It could be too many clothes, too much paper, or just all the junk we all absentmindedly collect over time. A clear space is a clear mind in my perspective.

"To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose"

Thanks for stopping by!

What I'm Geeking Out About This Week - 01/09/15


Hey there! Here is what's going on in my world!

I've been using this new way to manage your Gmail for about a week now and I love it. It helps simplify my messages and get my email out of my way. The ways it compiles common emails and messages of the same type as well as allows for easily snoozing, pinning, and archiving messages. You have to get invited (I can invite you!) or request access from Google (which takes some time) but it is definitely worth it. There is a free app for iPhone and Android, and you can also access it via the Chrome web browser. I definitely recommend you check it out if you love Gmail!

I just finished this mini-series on Amazon Prime, where it is available to stream alongside many other HBO series. The story surrounds Easy Company and their journey in Europe during World War II. It came out over a decade ago but still holds up well. The series spans over two years worth of time in the matter of ten episodes so the story does sacrifice character development and some nuance for this fast pace, but the emotion and action are still definitely there. This is a great series for any American history fans like myself, and you'll even see a lot of familiar faces before they became major celebrities, which is fun.

  • Perspective

"Follow the trend lines, not the headlines." I saw this quote recently in an article and it resonated with me. Too often we get caught up in the little things right in front of our face we forget to look at the big picture. The world is getting better and safer all the time, but people don't see or can't realize the incremental change and improvements that are happening. Change takes time and with marriage equality now available to the majority of Americans, I know this is true. I lived to see this happen over the course of my short lifetime, so I know we can make a difference if we all rally together. The aforementioned article does a great way of explaining this point of view, and it's a perspective like this that helps me stay positive and motivated to keep working hard.

Thanks for stopping by!