“Humility comes from inside out and it says, “Someone was here before me and someone has already paid for me.” I have a responsibility to pay for someone else who is yet to come, there is no room in there for ego!” – Maya Angelou
When I think how much sacrifice my parents have done in their lifetime for my sister and I to have the lives that we do, I’m reminded that for all the blessings I have, I did not get them only on my own. I am humbled for all the opportunities given to me. Humility and gratitude are values I hold dearly both in my professional and personal lives. It is for this reason that I am bothered when I hear others disparage the work of others before them and not realizing that these same work they are criticizing are some of the reasons why they have the opportunities they have now.
I cringe when I hear those who label the work of others as “piece of shit” or “garbage”. There is so much arrogance behind those words, the sense of superiority, the sense that the work of others don’t matter. There is so much ignorance behind those words.
Too many times, I see the sense of privilege, that somehow the world owes us what we “deserve”. I admit, I even forget all the privileges I have and take them for granted. However, I am quickly reminded of how fortunate I am when I think about the sacrifices my parents and all those who paved the way for me. Let’s not forget that for all the successes and experiences we have, we did not do this solely on our own.
Do you ever think about your “learning objectives” when you have a new project or when confronted with challenging situations at work? Do you ever assess/reflect what you learned after? This is a practice I’ve come to embrace not only to model what I expect from my students in my role as an educator, but it has also provided me a better perspective in how I approach my work. In adopting a learner’s mentality, I have come to view mistakes as learning opportunities and that learning doesn’t happen in a sequential timeline, but rather it involves some detours and challenges along the way. This has allowed me to be more patient, not only to myself, but to my colleagues as well. Adopting a learner’s mentality encourages me to be resilient during moments of frustrations. The thought of “what can I learn from this?” often changes how I view a situation. I have come to believe in the concept of constructivism - the idea that learning is social and collaborative. As important, having a learner’s mentality provides me with the mindset to look forward and not stagnate when it comes to personal and professional development.
Some time along my professional life working at the university, I forgot I work at a learning institution. I somehow forgot that learning does not stop after college. I approached my work completing tasks and projects without really thinking about how and what I should be learning along the way. I was not intentional about what I needed to learn for my own professional development. The fact that I rarely went to conferences for training kept me in the mindset that I was limited in my learning opportunities and I needed to depend on my supervisor for resources for these opportunities. This attitude changed when I was introduced to the concept of “alternative professional development” which is the idea that learning can happen outside formal training opportunities. Through social media and personal learning networks, I realized I could learn on my own. For years, I thought the only way to learn about student affairs theories and history was through graduate programs. I realized that was not the case. I realized I can create and shape my long term learning opportunities. I’ve adopted this learner’s mentality at work.
How do you approach learning at work?
Image credit: http://www.marksanborn.com/blog/4-learning-priorities-for-the-new-year/
What if there’s another way to earn a Student Affairs Master’s Degree not based on class time or credit but rather through demonstrated knowledge and skills? How about a combination of both? The problem with not having a Master’s Degree in student affairs is that any chances of being considered for a functional area position, even entry-level, are very limited. There are student professionals who have gained practical skills, theoretical knowledge and competency through years of experience in the field but do not have this credential. This is an issue for professionals who may want to move up or transfer into a different area within student affairs.
By no means am I devaluing the education and experience gained through graduate programs. As a matter of fact, I still would love to attend. However, the cost and my full-time job limit my options. This is a constraint shared by those in my position. Personally, it’s not that I had never considered attending graduate school. That was actually my plan but circumstances led me to becoming a professional in student affairs right after getting my undergraduate degree.
Alternative professional development and informal learning methods outside graduate programs have enabled those like me to learn and study the historical and theoretical aspects of my profession. I have documented on this blog my approach to learning about student affairs theory and history via social media and my personal learning networks in addition to reading textbooks similar to those used in graduate programs. However, combined with professional experience, there is no current way to formally vet what I have learned. The question that comes to mind is how does one demonstrate competency, knowledge, and skills gained through professional experience against a established set of expectations like the ACPA and NASPA Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners? Who would be authorized to assess and issue the credential? A bigger question is when would competency-based degrees be more generally recognized and accepted in light of MOOC and other ways one can learn nowadays.
Reading this article on Asian-Americans and racial ‘microaggressions’ brought up memories of certain experiences in my life and feeling like I’m an “outsider” or feeling inferior. Trying to figure out how I fit in or how I belong at work or in social settings is a constant process. As an immigrant from the Philippines, I was reminded immediately after arrival in the US many years ago that I was different, that I am somehow inferior because of my “fobbish” accent, the color of my skin, my race, my socio-economic background,and how I see and relate with the world around me because of my upbringing. I remember being mocked by other students in my 6th grade class when I raised my hand to ask questions and addressed my teacher as “Ma’am” as this how it was in the Philippines.I grew up with the values to respect authority/elders and to have the “we/community” instead of “me/individualistic” mentality but I’m also reminded throughout my career that somehow I’m being too sensitive with that approach. I’m not assertive enough, some have said.
I believe in the idea that the world does not owe me anything, that I have to work for what I would like to have. Watching my parents work multiple jobs at a time and not wanting hand-outs has certainly shaped how I view my world. Even with this belief, sometimes I find myself thinking and accepting that different standards exist for different people. I’ve accepted the idea that I need to work harder, prove myself more than others to be seen as equally capable or that I even belong. Frankly, it’s frustrating, but I have to remind myself that I also carry privileges that I take for granted from time to time.
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