I’m Coming Home - to my Alma Mater

naspa graduate associate program gap

Alyssa Laurenza, Endicott College

May 2, 2017

For many of us, our college experience is why we pursue a career in student affairs. I am no different from my cohort, my colleagues or anyone I have met in student affairs along the way. From the minute I drove away from campus after commencement, I knew my plan was to eventually fly back to the “nest” that is Endicott College. However, I didn’t expect to be back so soon. After a year and a half in graduate school, my dream position opened up at my alma mater and I did not hesitate to apply. My two year commitment to Salem State University was cut short and in January I started in my position at Endicott. Over the four months that I’ve been a #SApro at my undergraduate institution, I have gained insight and developed advice for anyone planning to return back to the campus they once called home.

  1. Try something new. I, like many other student affairs professionals, was heavily involved in undergrad. Therefore, when coming back, I challenged myself to get involved in something I hadn’t been involved in when I was an undergraduate student. For me, that was advising the EC Alliance, our LGBTQ group on campus, something I had very little experience with.
  2. Embrace and cherish your past experience, but remember this is a new experience. Sometimes I get so caught up in thinking about how the way things used to be or should be that I forget I’ve learned ways to make it better. My graduate fellowship opened my eyes to different ways of doing things, something that I have really tried to incorporate into my professional position.
  3. Be open with students. My students love hearing that I am an alum, so I really try to embrace that huge part of my identity. Don’t be afraid to share with the students what your favorite meal was at the dining hall or where your favorite place to study was.
  4. Understand that it will be different. As students we are oftentimes blind to the politics of the institution, so you might be caught off guard when you’re exposed to what the behind-the-scenes looks like. If you have the passion for your institution, you will adapt, although it does take some time.
  5. Enjoy it! The best part of starting in a position at your alma mater is missing out on the learning curve that you would have experienced learning an entirely new campus!

Best of luck! I am incredibly happy to be back at the institution that shaped me into the leader and professional that I am. Everyone’s experience in a new position is so different, but embrace that and make it your own.

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