Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Yes, I belong in this work


My name is Jonathan Gowin and I am currently in my third semester of Bloomsburg University's Educational Leadership, College Student Affairs program. When I think back over these last three semesters, I can say that it has been wild ride!

I got my start in student affairs as an orientation leader at my undergraduate institution, Lycoming College. While there, I struggled a lot to find a major that I loved, so like any typical escapist, I ignored that problem and got involved on campus instead! After one year in Orientation, I really dove into all the co-curricular opportunities that Lycoming could give me. By the time I graduated, I had added residence life, academic and disability support services, student activities, and leadership to my student affairs repertoire. Despite some lingering doubts about my direction, I decided to immediately pursue graduate school at Bloomsburg. Within the first week, my doubts were pushed aside and I thought for the first time, “Yes, I belong in this work.”

That confirmation hasn’t wavered in the last 10 months. In the fall and spring, I held a graduate assistantship in the Center for Leadership and Engagement, where I helped run the Leadership Certification Program for undergraduate students, planned large scale campus events, and co-supervised 12 student staff members. It was really my first opportunity to think like a student affairs emerging professional and be in that kind of role. When I think about the experiences I had with my students, it was straight-up fun.

For this semester, I have taken up a GA working with Dr. Denise Davidson, who is the program coordinator for the summer term. This has given me the opportunity to see the operational, nuts-and-bolts side of running a graduate program and for someone like me, whose passion transcends student affairs and encompasses higher education broadly, this has been very exciting. In the fall, I will continue to explore new areas of student development when I move to University Tutorial Services, where I’ll be coordinating the Supplemental Learning Program.

For me, the CSA program has been so much more than just the sum of my GA and class work. My favorite part about this program is the wealth of the co-curricular opportunities that are available (spoken like a true student affairs person, am I right?). In March, I, and several colleagues attended the international convention of a leading professional association, College Student Educators-International.

I’m currently a member of two research teams; one with Dr. Mark Bauman studying college presidents and the other with Dr. Mindy Andino and two fellow CSA colleagues, studying Generation Alpha. Just last week, I presented my preliminary findings for the former at the Pennsylvania Student Affairs Conference at East Stroudsburg University. Last, and perhaps most excitingly, a colleague and I, with collaboration from faculty here and at other PASSHE institutions, are starting the Student Affairs Graduate Almanac (SAGA), a “by students, for students” academic journal. I’ll share more details about these projects in future blogs!

If I’ve learned anything from these semesters at Bloom, it’s that the sky is the limit. This is an environment of inspiring people that will encourage you to take your ideas and run with them and challenge and support you (@Sanford) in the process. Bring your wild ideas and enthusiasm to us, it has a home here!

— Jonathan Gowin, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

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