“Service is the rent we pay for living on this earth”


Service is the rent we pay for living on this earth, for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.

Shirley Chisholm and Marian Wright Edelman

I first heard this quote from current NASPA Board Chair, Dr. Lori White, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at Washington University in St. Louis. In her speech at the NASPA Annual Conference Business Meeting, Dr. White outlined why she gives back to NASPA. She states:

One day you’re volunteering at the registration desk because your mentor told you that getting involved in this organization would be good for your professional development….And then one day you realize that everyone who used to sit at the front of the church has given their service and earned their rest. And you have moved from sitting on the back bench to the front pew.

And since April is National Volunteer Month, I want to take this opportunity to highlight two ways for you to find your seat in your row.

Professional Development for Emerging Leaders in Student Affairs: Becoming a Volunteer

I’ve been involved with NASPA for over 12 years, starting as a naïve undergraduate participant at the 2004 Region I SALT Conference, transitioning to a volunteer overseeing the marketing of evolution of the Minority Undergraduate Fellows Program to the NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program, and finally turning a failed summer internship application into a full-time position. Throughout these 12 years, I’ve seen how NASPA has evolved from a place that focused mostly on the upper-echelons of the student affairs experience to an organization that truly values the 40% of its members that are students or new professionals, creating pipelines for opportunity throughout the member experience. One of the ways we have achieved this is through Volunteer Central.

Volunteer Central: Engagement Opportunities for Future Change Leaders

Volunteer Central is a one-stop shop for all engagement opportunities within the organization regardless of professional level. Located within the NASPA Engagement Portal (NASPA member login required), Volunteer Central is going through some new and exciting updates, and it will house all engagement activities of NASPA, from one-time micro-volunteer opportunities to established leadership positions. I encourage you to update your NASPA Profile today and check out Volunteer Central for ways to get engaged.

NASPA SERVE Academy: Supporting, Expanding, and Recruiting Excellence

In addition to Volunteer Central, I’m also excited to follow-up on the NASPA Volunteer Leaders Academy Dr. White outlines in her speech. (Did you watch it yet? Because if you haven’t, you really should right now.)

This academy, known as the NASPA Supporting, Expanding, and Recruiting Volunteer Excellence Academy, or NASPA SERVE Academy for short, identifies current NASPA leaders who are looking to take the next step volunteer-wise within the organization. In this year and a half long program, 10-15 mid-to-senior level student affairs professionals will be given the opportunity to further their impact as NASPA members, realize their leadership potential, network, inspire others, and identify plans for future volunteer and leadership goals. Applications are due on August 1, 2016, and the application for this program can be found here.

Why I Love What I Do: Inspiring Social Change and a Positive Student Community

I love the work that I do because I am able to initiate change on a systemic-level by making more inclusive policies and practices. In addition, I have found an organization where my personal and professional values align completely, and I find that this synergy more easily occurs at non-profit associations. Just as you on college and university campuses distill the potential and ignite the passion of their students, non-profits do the same for its members and constituents. This reason is why I volunteer with ASAE :The Center for Association Leadership, as well as why I plan to commit my future to non-profit work. I know this service through empowerment and enrichment will continue to reward me for the rest of my career, and I hope you can find the same fulfillment through NASPA or any other association you volunteer for.

The NASPA Supporting, Expanding, and Recruiting Volunteer Excellence (SERVE) Academy is a year and a half long program for 10-15 mid-to-senior level professionals who want to gain knowledge and techniques regarding fully experiencing their professional association. For the duration of the program, the selected participants, representing the diversity of the NASPA membership, will gain additional knowledge and skills centered on executive development, mentorship, association management, and volunteer service.

Applications for the 2017 - 2019 NASPA SERVE Academy are due by July 21, 2017.