I have now had the pleasure to attend two amazing SUSDA retreats. After returning home from this year’s retreat I felt renewed with energy for the SDA program and the student development field.  I also found myself thinking about how I have grown and changed over the past year. As Erica has instilled in me, I have categorized my growth into three themes (Can you tell I’ve been working on portfolio?).

Community: After one year in the SDA program, I now feel that I am truly part of the SUSDA community. As a student working part-time off of the Seattle U campus, I had a hard time connecting with my peers at the beginning of last year. In the first few weeks, I felt that all of the Graduate Assistants already knew each other and had developed friendships from GA training. I felt left out. Due to schedule conflicts, I was rarely able to make it to SUSDA community meetings, table talk events, and after work happy hours. I also struggled with fears of over commitment and was hesitant to volunteer for SUSDA committees. Now, I know that I am part of an awesome, inviting, and loving community! With a little extra effort, I have made some great friends and have made connections across the Seattle U campus. By signing up for a mentor through the SUSDA mentoring program, I was partnered with a continuing student who also worked off of the SU campus. My mentor really helped me to transition into graduate school and helped me to see that I was not along in my situation. If you work off campus and want to talk, let me know!

Professional Identity: I am now feeling the very confident in my professional identity. This time last year, I had no idea what functional area and institutional types I wanted to explore. I have now narrowed in on my functional area interests and am looking forward to networking throughout the coming year. My internships experiences have given me valuable experience that I would not have gained if I were not in the SDA program. This is such a critical part of the SDA program and it has truly shaped my identity as a student affairs professional. Even though I spend a chunk of my summer commuting between Seattle and Cascadia Community College in Bothell, the time spend sitting on the freeway was totally worth it to know for sure that I want to pursue academic advising as a career.

Leadership: I am very excited to be taking on several leadership roles in SUSDA this year. As I mentioned before, last year I was anxious about the transition into graduate school and wasn’t involved in too many SUSDA activities. This year I have the opportunity to be a mentor to a first-year student. I can’t wait to find out who my mentee will be, and I hope that I can be as helpful as my mentor was for me. Throughout the year, I also will be facilitating a small dialogue group focused on faith and spirituality. We hope to cover topics such as how faith and spirituality influence institutional choice for professionals, campus ministry as a functional area, and how faith and spirituality inform leadership.  I am looking forward to exploring a variety of topics with this group and building a strong community within SUSDA. Finally, I will be serving on the Professional Development Committee. I am excited about this leadership role and getting to put on some great programs for our community.

Thank you for reading!

- Evinn Hickey

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