Wyoming Membership Coordinator

Sarah Vilardo: NASPA Region IV-West Wyoming Membership Coordinator

April 6, 2019

This time of year can feel overwhelming. Awards banquets and graduation are upon us, and then we will transition to summer and another new academic year. We’re focusing on finishing out the year strong, ensuring we’ve given this year’s students the best possible experience and chance for success. With all that we have to get done in the next few months, it’s easy to get lost in our day-to-day tasks and lose sight of our purpose, our mission, and what inspires us to do this work.

Have you stopped lately to remember your “why?” When was the moment that you realized that student affairs would be a great fit for you? Were you like many of us who stumbled into this field? What was it like when you realized you could work with incredible college students every day? Is there someone who took the time to believe in you and show you that you are worthy of success? Are you hoping to create an environment where the next generation of students will feel more included, validated, and empowered? Many of these ponderings remind me why I choose to carry out this work. I reflect back on the mentors I have had and the students I have been able to support, and I am inspired to keep going and keep contributing.

I have always been in awe of the transformative power of education. As an undergraduate, I loved watching the speeches at convocation. As the year began and our campus’ leaders opened us up to the possibilities of the coming months, I couldn’t help but wonder what was in store for me and what I would accomplish. I recently had this same feeling again as I watched one of the featured speakers at the NASPA 2019 conference. UC President Janet Napolitano talked about the resiliency of our students, and how despite what is often portrayed in the media, they are tough. Our students walk through struggles that can sometimes seem unimaginable and persevere in spite of them. I know that I have seen this in my own practice countless times, and it continues to motivate me. Right now on our campuses, there are students who need us to provide resources, support, or even just a kind word in the midst of their struggle. When we find ourselves in an overwhelming season, we need to remind ourselves that we have been tasked with the responsibility and privilege of impacting students on their journey—and helping them to be tough.

As we finish out this year, I encourage us all to reflect upon our work and our “why.” Take time to care for yourself in the same tireless way you care for your students. Think about the issues you want to champion. Dream up new and innovative ways to carry out your work. Believe in students in the way others believed in you. Focus on the impact you can make in the next few months and beyond. When it’s hard to stay inspired, remember—our students are tough, and so are we.

Sarah Vilardo: NASPA Region IV-West Wyoming Membership Coordinator

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