Not Afraid to Say It.

February is, among other things, the month where we profess our love. And ladies and gentlemen, I have fallen in love. I’m not afraid to say it- I will shout it from the tops of the tallest buildings on campus. I love…my students.

Around this time last year, I was asked to participate in a panel of graduate students about what to expect from the College Student Affairs graduate program at the University of South Florida. One of the questions we received from a prospective CSA’er was “What is one thing you didn’t know about your grad experience that you wish you’d known when you started?” Many of my classmates talked about the importance of time management, about our close relationships with each other as a cohort, and our rapidly improving knowledge of APA format. While I agree with all that, I also cited the relationships we build with students through advising, supervising, and spending time together at events. And I think enough time has passed that I can say it out loud: I LOVE MY STUDENTS!

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

They’re funny. Whether it’s sharing a quote from a TV show, or laughing about something weird that happens at an event, or even a moment such as today’s where my production manager came to our executive board meeting wearing plastic gloves and we shared the following exchange:

ME: Jesse, are you having a germ issue?

JESSE: No, I’m having a STYLE issue.

It’s comforting to know that even on days where bosses may be expecting a lot, or deadlines are looming, or if I’m personally struggling, that I have students who can reliably make me smile.

They’re smart. This same group of students that can so reliably make me laugh, also makes me marvel at how observant, insightful and deliberative they can be. We’ve had meetings run late just as often with an aside about a local restaurant or movie, as we have about how to transform our volunteer program into a more educational and effective training process for incoming staff. They take a tremendous amount of pride in their work, and in the perception of their work. And it’s gratifying to know that they put as much thought into the work they do, as their advisors do.

They’re respectful. I think that we all know this is not always the case with college-aged students. They can be combative, resistant to direction, and just plain rude. But these students are respectful enough of my associate director, my graduate advisor, and myself that I feel comfortable being myself around them. This has not always been the case for me in my time as an advisor. I’ve worked with students who lacked the maturity for me to have collegial relationships with them. But because this group has collectively shown the capacity to be respectful, it has made me a more well-rounded advisor to them. I am happy that my students know me (within reason, of course!) as an advisor, an educator and a professional, but also as a person.

I could go on for days here. And I would love to with them- they should hear how much they’re appreciated. But the bottom line is this: when I was considering the places that I could work, a major factor in my decision was the students that I would get to work with. I’m so grateful for the ones I have, and look forward to another great semester with a group that I so genuinely enjoy.

Join the lovefest! What do you love about the students you work with?

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