November 29, 2017
I recently returned from the NASPA IV-East conference in Detroit. Being in this space reminds me how important NASPA is to me for many reasons. The personal and professional relationships, as well as the power of mentoring, are central to the NASPA experience.
As a doctoral student, I had the opportunity to start a NUFP program at my institution. Over the period of five summers, I had the privilege of hosting six different NUFP interns: Laura, Stephanie, Whitney, Nontalie, Ivana, and Fred. During their stays on campus, I learned from each student about their life experiences, their identities as underrepresented students, and how the NUFP program provided them with support as they considered careers in Student Affairs. In turn, I shared about my own personal journey into the profession and reflected on the mentors in my life who helped pave the way for me.
Since my home was in a different city than the university, I would host the intern at my house for a long weekend or two. While the students enjoyed exploring a new city, spending the night in our family home, and breaking bread together, my young children, husband, and I had the joyous opportunity to spend time with and learn from these incredible young people!
Through social media, and through the annual NASPA conference, I look forward to staying connected and meeting up with the NUFP interns to learn about all the cool things each is engaged in from new jobs, doctoral programs, new relationships, and new pets. I’m grateful to have been a part of their lives on their individual journeys to becoming student affairs professionals. All have continued to work in higher education which illustrates the effectiveness of the NUFP program!
When the NASPA conference was held in Indianapolis in 2016, I had the additional joy of hosting Fred at my house when he participated in TPE and attended the conference. My children, who were 9, 6, and 3 when Fred stayed with us in 2010, loved reconnecting with him in person six years later. And Fred was quite surprised to see how much they had grown! Although some time had passed since our last in person meeting, we jumped right into conversations about his master’s program, professional interests, and job search process.
In Dr. Sara Ousby’s September 26th WISA blog post, “Mentors Beyond the Middle” she wrote that mentoring is all of our responsibilities. As noted, she encourages all to “find someone to mentor” and to “determined how mentoring can be mutually beneficial”. Through my experiences with the NUFP program, I know I benefited from these relationships, and consider my NUFP mentor experience a joyous gift.
In the words of Maya Angelou, “In order to be a mentor, and an effective one, one must care. You must care. You don’t have to know how many square miles are in Idaho, you don’t need to know what is the chemical makeup of chemistry, or of blood or water. Know what you know and care about the person, care about what you know and care about the person you’re sharing with.”
Anne Flaherty is the Dean of Students at Butler University.
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