Reflections on the a ‘wild and precious’ Year
This year was all about SUSDA-love and community. From the very beginning and even in the letter of intent process, I knew we needed to focus on how the SUSDA E-Team will serve our community. Not focus on external players, but focus internally. Our community is in need of some tender-lovin’ care. This was a year of building our association and strengthening our foundation in the 20th year of our program. I think we did this building our association in critical areas and there are clear voids I hope the incoming E-Team will address.
From the beginning, I knew we had a solid team to guide our community in growth and shared experience. Working as a leader of a graduate student organization was starkly different then leading in my job or as an undergraduate student leader. While this seams like a ‘duh’ revelation, it was a challenge I worked through initially.
Another moment of realization is how there is a necessity to support individual, spontaneous endeavors by community members. While it may not require much time or work on the part of SUSDA supporting community gatherings (baby showers or special topic gatherings by non-trads and international student advisors) it is so important. Mobilize resources for room reservations, rentals, etc. to create space for these important celebrations and developmental opportunities. It is key to empowering educators within our community.
Lastly, there is a need to grow in our community’s ability to channel and amplify feedback of the association, program, and larger communities. It is hard for such a asynchronous community to gather to articulate feedback, and limited time to name and express it. In order to grow our community more, we need to hear and adjust to this feedback.
I don’t know if our SDA community realizes the amount of time, dedication, love, and passion this group of peers poured into our community. They really helped facilitate something special. Later, I will outline our strengths and areas of growth; however, a moment to praise people.
Stephanie – What a gift you are to this community and our world. We have been through a great deal together these two years. Working with you on SUSDA has been another experience I will never forget. You have a talent for leadership development and retreat planning. Intentionality is a specialty of yours. Your professionalism and detail-orientedness was so helpful in making a solid All-SUSDA retreat. You are a navigator in so many ways. You really have helped me understand the political channels, difficult times, and provided wonderful guidance. You put up with me. I will always be appreciative.
Sarah – What ignites you? You ignite me. Sarah what a gift of energy and groundedness you provided our E-Team and community. I am constantly amazed by thoughtful questions, inner wisdom, and ability for play in the work you do. Definitely a role model for me, and I am looking forward to what you will be able to accomplish in your next role. Jesuit education is in you. Such a beautiful partnership.
Nathan – Sir, you have always been grounded and a steadfast presence. I am honored to have learned more of your story at our E-Team retreat. Your humor, support, and patience with the extravertedness of the group was greatly appreciated. Thank-you for being you and your servant leadership I was able to eperience from you.
Laura Lynn – I know at times the First Year Liaison you feel like the odd duckling. Thanks for your patience and persistence with me in particular. LL, you have so many gifts to offer because you are talented in so many ways. You were a wonderful first year representative and continue to be a leader of your cohort. You are dedicated and ready to serve. I am looking forward to hearing of your successes and contributions to our community and beyond. Good luck in Footloose!
Ester – My love. I feel as if we have been a steadying keel for one another since the beginning of this program. You are so committed to social justice and multiculturalism. You always express your voice and bring up important topics for the group to consider. I know your involvement in SUSDA was unexpected, but your presence was appreciated in multifaceted ways. Thanks for your leadership of our journal. You also remind me of the importance of purposeful play; which I will carry with me into the future. Thank-you, friend.
Kelly – K-Russ. Where to begin. You and I have grown in friendship throughout our experience in the program. I have always appreciated your humor and appreciation of the beauty which surrounds you and is in you. My gratitude is with you for all the behind the scenes work to make MAGIS a success and launching it in time for NASPA. You and Ester set a high bar and designed a collaborative, community process for editing. That will be your legacy for sure.
Brandon – You have a very visual and beautiful legacy you will leave our program. Do you realize this? Your humor, writing, and technology expertise was perfectly utilized in this position. These things however do not define you. You shared yourself with the team and took risks that I believe I witnessed you grow from. Your service and commitment to SUSDA will last for years to come. Brandon, thanks for being you and serving our community behind the scenes to build a beautiful digital infrastructure.
Courtney – Friend, from the beginning you have been a source of friendship and mentorship for me. We bounced some difficult things off of each other as a sounding board. I was never steered wrong. You are a trusted friend and colleague. Your professionalism is unparalleled. Your leadership of the largest SUSDA committee was wonderfully organized and productive. I look forward to your successes in your bright future. Please lets continue our friendship and connection regardless of our geography
- Updating the SUSDA constitution took time and energy. It now better reflects the rhetoric and purpose of our association.
- Strong E-Team core. Lead to independent progress in areas of control.
- Our new vision statement of “empowering educators within an inclusive caring community.” This is our purpose. It considers the influence and scopes of the division, program, and GSC. We have a unique purpose and focus independent of
- Beginning discussion on a sustained source of funding for the association.
- MAGIS Editors-in-Chief joining the E-Team formally. Allowed more collaboration and support. Helped with communication, marketing, and an early launch in time for the NASPA Reception.
- Strengthening foundational programs including the All-SUSDA retreat and professional development programs.
- Meaningful SUSDA Community Meetings. We held a record number of community meetings with a sizable attendance. Continue to use these meetings for community development and purposeful/meaningful work.
- Stronger connection with our NASPA professional organization through the Professional Development chair.
- A solid digital presence on Facebook, Blog, Twitter, etc.
- Creating recognition for SUSDA through the inaugural addition of the Erin Swezey Commitment to Community Award.
- Addition an intentional structure to E-Team Summer Retreat, monthly meetings, and goal-setting extended quarterly retreats. This constant contact allowed the E-Team to form a solid, working team and community of care. We had a great deal of productive, meaningful fun.
- Pulled in Preview Day Coordinators to collaborate and support efforts. To provide ideas, feedback, suggestions, and volunteer.
- Transition process was transparent. Additionally, we provided structure to the transition.
What strengths did you see?
Areas of Growth
- Identify and offer targeted support or resources to underserved populations in the SDA community (i.e. Students of Color, Non-Trads, etc.)
- More Multicultural Competence and/or Social Justice programming/events. This anecdotally seems an area the community would like development in.
- Partnerships with other graduate student organizations and the GSC. I would collaborate first with other graduate student organizations. Cross support each other’s programs. We did not do this enough.
- More collaboration among E-Team on events. Pose more questions on how to support each other. Rather then siloed work.
What area of growths did you observe?
Successes, Accomplishments, and Changes
The lists of programs and events offers you a glimpse in to our accomplishments and connections we were able to aid this academic year. I offer up some more behind-the-scenes events.
– SUSDA E-Team Spring Happy Hours
– SUSDA E-Team Summer Retreat (Theme: Season of Growth and Change)
– SUSDA E-Team Pre-Fall Extended Meeting
– SUSDA E-Team Winter Quarter Extended Meeting in Tacoma
– Monthly-ish E-Team Meetings
Hopes and Expectations
My expectations are not meant to influence the direction, goals, and work of next year’s leadership. They are merely points for consideration.
- Identify and implement a process for a sustained funding source(s) for the association.
- Develop a position or responsibilities for all chairs to facilitate multicultural competence and social justice work for the community.
- Consider transitioning SUSDA to a calendar year term. This will help with transition and graduating continuing students during the job search period. Also, it will give first-years formalized leadership roles in their first year.
- Work to engage alumni more regularly. Suggestions of regular newsletters or email blasts as a start. This will be something different then just job postings over our list.
In closing, I want to hear from you; current students, incoming students, perspective students: What have you seen? Heard? Experienced? I hope whatever you respond with it ignites in you a flame to fuel new energies and innovation into our community. We all will benefit from your presence and participation.
Thank-you for a wonderful year SUSDA; more please.