Molly C.S. Pierson, Membership Coordinator Missouri
May 10, 2019
The Both/And: Semester Endings
As semesters end and students graduate and move on, you know it has a been a good and fulfilling one when you both feel sad to see students go and happy and relieved at the same time. Growing with and supporting students is hard work. Hard in the sense that if you invest your emotional self you are sure to feel the impact both positively and negatively.
Each semester end comes with both celebrations and hard moments. Students who have done well are able to reflect back and be proud of what they accomplished. Students who have not performed liked they wanted to, had challenges, struggled, may need a nudge to not get stuck in what they see as a failure and be encouraged to be resilient and prepare for a better next time.
This is a great time for student affairs professionals to reflect on all that has happened and make more sense of it. Using the well-known but less practiced philosophy both/and can help. For example, we have had tough moments on campus this year, like many other campuses, especially as it relates to student mental health, Title IX, and diversity and inclusion. Those moments of struggle both demonstrate where we can be and do better and what our community is capable of when we come together.
Our journey to be better for our students and our community is never done. Reflecting back on the semester, there are both times I have showed up for our students and times where I needed to do more. There are always multiple sides to the story. There is inevitable impact despite our best intentions. It is important to be honest with ourselves about what went well and what did not and make time to evolve and change.
Lastly, it is okay to have sigh of relief as the semester ends and students leave. It means that both we care deeply and we are human and need some time to reflect, reconnect with ourselves, and refresh. It is important to remember that we do not all get what I experience to be a well-timed and needed semester break. To our students affairs colleagues on the quarter system or who do not experience semester breaks, I am sending you energetic vibes and hope you are still able to find some time to reenergize soon.
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