Graduate Student Spotlight - Tulsi Patel

Kristin Wyninegar, NASPA IV-W Graduate Student Representative

October 31, 2017

Hometown: Morrilton, AR

Graduate Institution: Arkansas Tech University

Degree yo:u are working towards: College Student Personnel, Master of Science, Additional: Certificate in advising

Undergraduate Institution: Arkansas Tech University

Previous Institutions: University of Arkansas Community College of Morrilton

Why you chose your graduate institution: I chose Arkansas Tech University (ATU) as my graduate institution for College Student Personnel (CSP) because I had created a close bond with the institution while earning my bachelor’s degree in graphic design. I enjoyed the connection I had with the faculty members in my department. They made me feel important and like I was a part of a family, but importantly, I was able to succeed at everything that was thrown my way. My professors encouraged me and helped me become stronger as an individual and as an artist. The environment created in the Norman Arts building opened up many opportunities to meet new people and get to know fellow artists in different mediums. Once I felt at home there, I decided to branch out and become involved with organizations that served students such as the student activities board and orientation leader. Throughout these memories, I realized that this university I was going to was the one I wanted to call my alma mater, even after graduate school. Since I had learned from so many professors and staff members, I knew that I needed to go to an institution that truly cared about their students and their success. As an added bonus, I came to find out that the CSP department had professors who were, at one point in their lives, student affairs practitioners. I heard numerous positive comments about the program previously; I learn best through real life experiences. This opportunity was one that I had to take and that is exactly why I chose Arkansas Tech University.

Why you wanted to go to graduate school: I knew I wanted to further my education by earning a degree in something other than graphic design because it is a competitive field and it is not in high demand currently. I did not realize student affairs was something I could further my education in. During my senior year, I had a friend who had plans of pursuing this degree. After hearing about this, I realized I wanted to help serve students and better the student affairs environment by having another person who was passionate to change students’ lives for the better. When I was on the student activities board that final year, I realized how important it is to understand your students and what their needs are. I would constantly think of ways to improve events. I knew I had potential in this field to help myself grow and help the students who might need that extra push to grow as well. Just like Arkansas Tech was for me, I want to make the institution that I am employed at one day like that for my students. I will always put the student first by continuously reminding myself of where I started out and what it was to be like as an 18-year-old entering college. Knowing that there was a degree option for something like this cemented my will to pursue graduate school.

What area(s) of Student Affairs interest you most and why: Throughout my involvement during my undergraduate and currently during my assistantship, I found that I have a few interest in higher education. I’m passionate about Student Activities and International Multicultural Student Services Office (IMSSO). Student Activities interest me because creating events is something I am very passionate about. This gives students the ability to explore opportunities through various activities and helps mold lifelong friendships through socialized events. As for IMMSO, I have thoroughly enjoyed this first semester in my graduate assistant position working for them. This is the first office that I have ever worked in where it feels like a close-knit family. Everyone is so helpful, compassionate, and always cheerful. You never feel alone in this office. This reflects onto our students as we have many come in each day just to say hello or ask how our day is going. Since international students are living in a foreign country, it is our jobs to assist them in any way possible and make them feel at home. Each of the staff in the office will never say that they are too busy for a student. It is this kind of student-oriented work as well as the family atmosphere that has created not just an interest, but a passion in my heart for the international office.

A memorable moment working with your students at your assistantship: The most memorable moment I have had so far was during a Chinese summer camp event when teenage students from China came to stay at Arkansas Tech for a couple of weeks to get just a little taste of America and Arkansas Tech. During this camp, we did many activities, took them shopping, to museums, and even had a huge cookout/pool party at a local place on Mt. Nebo. At the end of the day at sunset, we took them to sunset point, a vantage point where the river valley is spread out as far as the eye can see. All of the students gathered at the edge, conversing, taking selfies, laughing, and even asking to take some pictures with us. At one point during that time, I took a deep breath and exhaled, all while looking out at those students enjoying their youth and having what seemed to be one of the happiest moments of their lives. It was in this very moment that I realized to the fullest extent why we, as student affairs professionals, do what we do. Seeing each one of those happy faces gave me warmth knowing that I was changing lives. We are constantly changing lives by educating, enriching, and diversifying our students. The best part? This is only the beginning of my journey.

What are your hobbies: I enjoy the outdoors whether it be hiking, running, or playing with my dog Izzy.

If you could take a year off from work/school what would you do: I think the real question is what I would not do! Traveling the world and stopping at poverty stricken areas to lend a helping hand while documenting it via video or photograph sounds like a nice start.

What is your dream job: Any job that I can go into and say to myself “This doesn’t even feel like work. This feels like home.”

What you would like to be remembered for: I have a drive and passion about things such as student affairs and graphic design. I am a kind-hearted person who puts people first before and I am always willing to help someone in need. I have helped friends who are in financial barriers. One of my friends lives with me so they are able to continue their education and pay for other necessities, such as food and classes. No matter where I go, no matter what path I choose in life, I always want to be remembered as the caring and loving person that I am.

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