Monday, August 1, 2016

Prepping for a Career in College Student Affairs

Hello everyone! In this blog, I’ll update you on where I am now… busy. Ha! But first, a quick overview of Lycoming College Prep, or LycoPrep.

LycomingPrep is a two-week learning opportunity for low-income, first-generation rising high school senior students. They attend Lycoming College to learn what a liberal arts college is like. During these two weeks, they live on campus with roommates, attend two non-credit courses Monday through Friday (Chemistry and Political Science), attend workshops led by faculty and staff, and participate in fun field trips to local hot spots. My role is to serve as a residential supervisor. I lead the three student leaders, Lycoming College Peer Facilitators (LCPF)who serve as mentors to the 20 LycoPrep students. I also drive the vans between campus and our field trip locations.

Last Wednesday, I moved onto the Lycoming College campus. I have not lived on a college campus in four years so I was nervous to live with students full-time. For the first three days, I participated in training along with my three LCPFs. Together, we focused on teamwork, personality traits, first-aid training, expectations, while we prepared door decorations (to welcome the students), bulletin boards, snacks, and games for the students to enjoy. The College Student Affairs graduate program at Bloomsburg has aided me with detailed leadership courses that provided me with a clear idea of how I can most effectively lead my team. Last semester, I completed “Introduction of Educational Leadership” which focused a lot on how to manage teams. This semester, I am enrolled in “Organizational Behavior” and spending a lot of time assessing my leadership qualities and weaknesses. BU has given a strong foundation to grow; every day I am practicing my leadership knowledge and skills.

Last Saturday, 20 first-generation high school rising seniors arrived on campus. These 20 students come from seven different states including California, Texas, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. This is a very diverse group where they can discuss and learn from each other the different cultures and values each of us have.

 So far, our field trips have consisted of a trip on the Hiawatha Paddleboat along the Susquehanna River, the Little League Museum, the Lycoming County Prison, Williamsport City Hall, Williamsport downtown art galleries, local dining, Rite-Aid shopping trips, and a Walmart shopping trip. Today, we are scheduled to go kayaking! Over the next week we are schedule for a trip to Knoebel’s Amusement Park, digging at Canfield Island, hiking at Rider Park, watching a movie at the nearby drive-in theatre, a Crosscutters AAA baseball game, pool party at the home of the Vice President for Student Affairs, and T & D Cats of the World animal refuge!

This is an intensive experience for the high school students . . . and also for me. I attend all meals with the students, all field trips, participate in late night activities such as watching movies, playing board games, playing cards, etc. and I even attend some of their workshop sessions. I have formed great connections with these 20 students. They are a very curious group! They ask a lot of thoughtful questions at tour sites, workshops sessions, and during class. They focus on their homework and enjoy learning from each other—I am so excited to see how much they are learning about attending college. This two-week experience is a life-changing opportunity.

The College Student Affairs program has also provided me with a solid understanding of how to address change, which has been very beneficial to me this summer because this program has evolved even during our two weeks. As Professor Roesch would say, “Change is inevitable.” As student affairs educators, we must be open to change and embrace it. During just the first week at Lycoming, we have had to switch discussions, cancel trips due to rain, find an alternative, and make it all work out. Those moments can be hectic, but through open communication and creativity, we have continued to provide an organized alternative. I’ve learned that these students are having the time of their lives. They are going to be happy with any decision we make that allows them to form strong relationships and create important memories.

— Felicia Garcia-Wedemeyer, college student affairs #EducationalLeadership #ProfessionalU

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