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Posts Tagged ‘student leadership’

kelly kay SACAs a second-year graduate student pursuing student affairs, I have had the ride of my life learning how to balance school, work, and relationships. While trying to maintain this balance, my values have solidified, and my relationships have become more meaningful and fulfilling. Mentors in my life have helped to guide me through these changes while keeping me grounded.

Having a mentor has been very important in my relatively short career in student affairs. I have found people outside of my department to talk to about my career goals, and these different perspectives have been really helpful. I turn to faculty members inside my department as well. Turns out, they have successfully balanced school, work, and personal relationships and lived to tell the tale — and offer some sage advice.

The most important thing mentors have taught me is to follow my own path. I usually go to them when I’m faced with a seemingly huge decision, and I leave feeling relieved. The key to a great mentoring relationship is knowing how I problem-solve. For me, that means knowing that I need to talk things out. When I talk to someone whom I view as an authority, I feel a greater sense of validation.

Mentors play a different role in my life than family and friends do. I can tell my Mom anything; I respect her opinion, and she will support me no matter what. But what I need in a mentor is someone to challenge me and offer a different perspective. And that perspective is inherent in the relationship: This person has not known me since I was a baby. This person doesn’t go window shopping with me on Saturdays. This person knows me purely as a professional or a student, and she or he can offer input in that part of my life.

It is an honor to be considered someone’s mentor, and I would feel accomplished if anyone referred to me as such. It is easy to miss opportunities to help someone else, but offering something as simple as another perspective can be the first step toward mentoring. I always hope to be a role model to the undergraduate staff whom I supervise, but I think for National Mentoring Month, I will charge myself to search earnestly for those mentoring relationships and positively impact those around me.

I want to offer a thank-you to all of the mentors who might not know they have had an impact on a student, a supervisee, or colleague. Maybe today you can take the time to thank your mentors and help brighten their day, as they have done for you.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Kelly Kay Clark.

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It’s mid-January, and the holiday season is over; children are readjusting to the new semester, and adults are back to work. The lights and trees have been taken down, and malls are back to their normal number of shoppers. As I reflect on this past holiday season, particularly the craze surrounding popular items that the children in our lives request, I am baffled.

Photo by David Shankbone, Flickr Creative CommonsEvery year the same issue arises during my holiday shopping: I stroll down the aisles in search of a doll I can purchase for my 9-year-old niece, and each year I am disappointed with the options. This year my question remained the same: Where is the diversity? To justify my feminist mentality and sometimes too-frequent overthinking of certain matters, I searched “Barbie” on Google. How surprised was I at the results? Not at all. Before my eyes was a page full of white dolls, the majority scantily clad with long legs, small waists, and perfect smiles.

I have always had these issues with doll companies that gross billions of dollars a year and stack toy store shelves for little girls across the globe. Maybe my aversion is a reaction to stories my grandmother has told me, reliving her childhood of sexism and racism. Maybe it’s because of the sense of pride I feel as I look in the mirror at my brown skin every morning. Maybe it’s because I refuse to allow my niece to be socialized to think that pretty girls are only those who are skinny with light skin; long, straight hair; and skimpy clothing — and that women are meant to be mothers and wives instead of engineers and politicians. Maybe it is because of the political, social, economic, and physical attacks that women all over the world survive every day. Maybe it’s because of the grotesque portrayal of women in movies, television, and the media as sexualized beings who deserve little to no respect. Or maybe it’s because the feminist in me would like, for once, to walk down the toy aisle and find a Mexican, Asian, or black baby doll with ease — or a doll whose abilities aren’t limited to being fashionable.

So as I stared at my niece’s Christmas list this year, I skipped over the request for a doll. I challenge all parents and gift-givers to be cautious and aware of what toys you purchase for your children. Are you encouraging your children to follow certain paths in their lives by buying the boys construction toys and the girls toys that reinforce their stereotypical roles as caregivers? Are little girls being socialized to strive for an unobtainable physical ideal represented through popular culture? The answer is yes! From television advertisements to technology to the toys children play with, ideals are being reinforced in our children’s minds. It is time to take a stance and teach children that diversity is beautiful. Each person is unique, and that is what’s normal.

This post was written by National Student Advisory Council member Benita Robinson.

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