Monday, December 19, 2011

What I Learned My First Semester of Grad School

This semester would not be possible without the people above--my family, my best friends, and the SALP staff. My family and friends were able to continuously encourage my journey, reminding me of the richness of the life we live, and the reason we are here: Him.

I've spent many hours learning, laughing, and growing within my assistantship in the Student Activities and Leadership Programs office (SALP) and the awesome staff I get to work with. I've helped plan and facilitate leadership retreats, the emerging leaders program, and am currently working on the Gender and Leadership Summit conference, strengths program, social justice certificate, spring leadership retreat...just to name a few. Which leads me to my biggest lesson learned this year:

#1. Life is about spinning plates

Having nearly 1/2 a dozen programs in the works at any given time, my supervisor Kate continuously stated how it's all about spinning plates. You work on one project and transfer to another and then jump back with enough time that the other one hasn't stopped spinning (i.e. you don't forget about it). At work this was originally challenging, because I can get so immersed in one task it easy to forget of the others--yet 5 months has passed and I am a spinning plates afficionada. I think this mindset has also been beneficial to my life, having family and friends all great distances away. I am learning to 'spin plates' in that regard by sending simple text messages, weekly cards, scheduling phone calls, visits and adventures. Keeping my friendships spinning has been a huge area of growth and improvement to me this year.

#2. Life is about growing where your planted

When I originally moved to Kalamazoo, I was constantly looking to when I could visit Grand Rapids and head home to Saginaw. As much I was enjoying my new life, I wasn't overly concerned with growing roots and planting myself right where I was. As the semester unfolded and classes began, the more I began to pray and reflect on the meaning of now. What does God want me to do here? What is my purpose here? In little ways each day, he began to show me. I began enjoying time outside of class with friends, spending time with my roommates, seeing the blessings in simple interactions with students, getting the Kalamazoo Gazette, attending a church regularly--where I'm beginning a small group with the Women's Ministry director! I feel my roots are off to a great start, and so thankful I recognized that although I have so much I look forward to outside of Kzoo, I have plenty to look forward to, right here, right now.

#3. Working with/for students will be a part of my life's work

Beginning my job and my graduate coursework, I was quite sure that being a student affairs professional and working in higher education is where God has called me, I continuously prayed for His guidance in terms of this time and of what my future looks like. To be honest, I've been overly surprised how much I love my work, my classes, and the everyday thrill of driving to a job and school I love. I feel He has only encouraged me to thrive in His ways, right where He led me to.

#4. Be excited when life goes the other way of "your plan"

Hot damn I am a planner--I enjoy planning for today, tomorrow, next week, next year, and the next century. In many ways I learned this semester that God must continuously laugh at my plans, because many of them did not go as planned this year. He has chartered a course that I certainly couldn't have guessed or planned. And for that, I am daily thankful and grateful for how much He loves me and guides me and has everything occur at the opportune moment, time, place, and with the right people. In short, I am less neurotic about planning in general, because when recently when I have let go and let Him take over more, I have been so unabashedly happy. I truly couldn't ask for much more!

Here's to my first semester of grad school, and the 1.5 years to go! With Him, I am nothing but lavishly excited. 

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