It’s wonderful that some of us celebrate on a special day to think about all for which we can be thankful. Attending the NASPA Western Regional Conference November 7-10 is one of the many experiences for which I’m thankful. The conference planning committee led by Lea Jarnagin, dean of students at Cal State Fullerton, did a fine job. And if they didn’t, most of us would have thought it was a great conference because it was in Hawaii.
I’m thankful for more than the time in Hawaii, however. I’m thankful for the opportunity I had to co-present at the conference with Doris Ching, vice president emeritus from the University of Hawaii. Our presentation was something of a retrospective of student affairs and higher education, and we tracked the decades with our personal career journeys.
I’m also thankful for the opportunity to participate in a panel that Teri Bump, vice president for student affairs for American Campus Communities, organized. The panel’s session was titled Wisdom: Our Inspiration & Opportunities. Hearing these remarkable women share about their lives in very personal terms was awe-inspiring for me. When it was my turn to speak, I was so full of gratitude for what these women bring to all of us, that I could hardly find my voice.
During this season of giving thanks and sharing, let me share some of their comments with you.
Teri asked, “What do we know for sure?” She urged all of us to think about the gifts we bring and the choices we make. She shared that her gift is bringing good people together. I think that she is consistent in sharing this gift and it’s much appreciated.
Doris urged us as professionals to critically examine and adopt a personal education philosophy; to practice consistency and integrity; and to keep the ideals of the profession in our hearts, minds and spirit. She told all of us that we were already sharing our gifts in ways that strengthen the profession and that our gift in return is self-discovery and powerful leadership.
Carmen said that she was a first-generation miracle. She shared examples of faith, spirit, and intuition in her own life and concluded that sometimes we get what we need and not what we want. She stressed the importance of having a sense of presence and being in the here-and-now in order to absorb and manage chaos and give back calm. She believes that we are here for others and not just for self. In making decisions, she encouraged us to be open to possibilities and trust our inner voice.
Ann Marie began with “We are the women who came before us.” She gave a moving narrative about the characteristics of her great grandmother, her grandmother, and her mother that instilled her values and give her strength. These three incredible women are role models for her, and she is certain from where she received her intellect, heart and strength.
Luoluo announced at the beginning of her remarks that she was disruptive and discontent, and she is a social justice warrior who does not suffer from a lack of courage. She said that what she knows is that in her work and life, she draws from three pools of knowledge: scholarship, public health, and women’s studies and social justice. These areas help her understand the value of hard data and systems thinking, all the while not ignoring her heart.
I hope this thumbnail sketch of the stories and words of wisdom of these women will be food for thought for you during this Thanksgiving holiday season.