When our students amaze us

Three stories from my day when students amazed me.

1) Today I was invited to the IUPUI Honors College open house.  This is an annual event that invites prospective IUPUI Honors students to campus to meet the faculty, current students, sleep in the residence halls, and other great things.  During the afternoon, they held an open house where Honors students shared their work with the prospective students.  There were refreshments and many many posters with smiling IUPUI current students standing there sharing their stories.
One of my student staff members was sharing her experience in a study abroad program in Greece.  I walked up to her and she shared with me her study abroad experience.  We’ve talked about this experience before in her 1:1’s right after she returned from the trip (it was a summer trip).  Today though, I was just amazed at how much the trip really impacted her & how eloquent the words were that she was using to describe this experience!  This was a side of her that I never see.

2) I just tweeted about this second experience.  One of the other student staff members in our program just posted a comment on my most recent blog post: “Do you remember the time…”   His comment is down there towards the bottom.  Here’s a student who is always super fly & casual during my interactions with him.  In posting his story, here he is really being honest & sharing his experience in being a first generation college student.  Just wow am I humbled by reading this.

3) I also was able to partake in the final class of our ‘New Staff Class’ for our student staff members (and alternates) for next fall.  While granted I won’t actually get to work with these students because I will be leaving this institution, I was blown away by their high level of participation today.  @joshskillman (my supervisor) led a great exercise where students shared what ‘normal’ was from their experiences during high school and when they first arrived at college.  We answered these questions in small groups and shared openly about our experiences.
During the activity, one of the students (who shall remain anonymous because of the ground rules we set out in the activity) shared with us about his speech impediment and how it has always made him feel like he needs to ‘dumb down’ what he puts out there about himself.  Fast forward two hours, he was at that same session I shared about during number 1 (above) and there was a poster behind him in all sorts of complicated technical jargon sharing some sort of research study he had been involved with.  He’s a bio-medical engineering student.  Talk about totally complex stuff!  (not that I ever doubted his smarts- please don’t read that I doubted this)
I am really blown away by how inside of a few hours our students wear so many different hats.  First to be completely vulnerable to a group of people he barely knows.  Then to turn around and share the research he clearly cares about to perspective students – advertising for his experience here.

I think throughout these three moments today I was just struck by how hard our students really work.  They truly are all “students first.”  When we’re watching March Madness on TV, I think we sometimes forget that these are all students first — then athletes second.  When I hear a conduct case in res-life I do have to remind myself that these students are bogged down by classes & that the coursework might be part of their stressors to encourage them to make poor choices….etc

Then I think there are moments when I am like Stuart Little —
Looking up at these great people all around me – hoping that I am able to help them, serve them, encourage them, and empower them to keep being the awesome individuals they are.

My hat goes off to our students who work so hard in their day-to-day to be the fantastic people they are.  I’m going to bring this respect with me as I go relax throughout my weekend – knowing that they are still at it, working hard, prepping for finals, juggling jobs, figuring out identity development, engaging in relationships, exploring their world…. oh yea, and answering the duty phone.

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