The Uninvolved Student (Almost) One Year Later

Whenever I have an idea for a post, I write it down in a notebook. At this point, it’s this huge list with nearly 200 things. Obviously not all of them have made it to the blog – yet. Recently, I looked at some of the earlier stuff on my list that didn’t make it. A few of them jumped out to me as things that would be easier to write now. Others just need to be scrapped. It wasn’t a great idea then and it’s not a great idea now. Or worse, it’s no longer relevant. This post is a unique one. It’s an update to a post I never made.

Prior to the school year starting, when only RAs and athletes were on campus, my supervisor told me that one of my residents had requested to switch rooms. Let’s call her Cali. Cali was an student athlete and had moved in just a day or two earlier. Her roommate had not yet arrived but Cali knew that she did not want to live with her. Cali had transferred to PDFM U in order to be closer to home – previously she had been at a small school in California (I’m so clever with this nickname business). At her previous school and PDFM U, she had had roommate troubles. I had glanced at her file and it seemed that Cali just never really wanted to stand up for herself. Like many roommate issues, she had been asked if she had addressed the issue with her roommate and she always said no. She was given the chance to have a mediation but she would just shake her head. Cali did not seem to be a confident girl.

It turned out that Cali needed help moving into her new room. We were able to find a single and wanted her to move before the rest of the students returned to campus. Unfortunately this was not convenient for Cali’s mother and she complained that Cali would have to move by herself. I wound up helping with the move, which was not all that difficult. While we carried boxes and tote bags to her new room, I asked Cali about her time at her old school, specifically about her involvement on campus. She mentioned her sports team and then said that she had been in a sorority. Bingo! That’s my area of expertise. It turns out that we had her sorority on campus. I asked if she had thought about getting involved in her sorority here at PDFM U. Her eyes widened. “That’s something I can do?” She was genuinely surprised. Not only was Cali not advocating for herself, but she was not asking questions that she needed to in order to get where she needed to be. I’m honestly surprised that she came to our office to even ask for a room change (although I have a feeling it was her mother who most likely called and asked).

And so I was going to write about what a shame it was that this girl wasn’t involved on campus and could barely speak up and how I was so worried about her development. I’m honestly glad I waited to write this post because this past school year made a world of difference.

At the beginning of the school year, I made a point to meet with each Greek organization’s leadership. I let the women in Cali’s sorority know that Cali was a transfer student in their sorority. Just like Cali had been unaware that she could “join” her own sorority at a new school, the members did not know how the transferring process worked. I told them to contact their advisor and their national office, but in the mean time they should reach out to Cali. A few days later, I saw Cali sitting with some of the sorority members. By the end of the semester, she was a full fledged member!

Cali also got involved with different academic societies and was invited to work this year’s graduation ceremony, a privilege reserved for student who have displayed extraordinary academic and leadership qualities. In the spring, she applied for a position that is similar to an RA only with a smaller group of residents. The administrators had no doubt about hiring her – something that would have been incredibly unlikely only a year before.

One of my favorite parts about working in student affairs is getting to see a student grow. Many times, we don’t get to see it in only a year – you have to wait and watch a student go from freshman year to graduation day. I am glad that I got to see Cali’s transformation this past year and I am excited to see what senior year brings to her.

What remarkable transformations have you seen in your students?

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