Thursday, January 16, 2014

SLLO Where Are They Now: When You’re Reminded Why You Do What You Do

I like to consider myself a very intrinsically motivated individual.  I’m the first to admit, however, that sometimes I get tired.  Tired of feeling like I’m beating my head against the wall… Tired of feeling like the students just aren’t quite getting it… Tired of consecutive late nights at work…just tired.  But then every once in a while, out of the blue, someone pops back into my life for 5 minutes, an hour, or as a new colleague, and reminds me why it’s all worth it.

The latest instance of that happened for me the weekend of graduation.  Knowing that thousands of people were going to be heading straight for campus, I very strategically chose to drive in the opposite direction and ran all of my errands that stayed outside a very intentional radius distance away from Reed Arena.  Nevertheless, as I was filling up my car at the gas station, a friendly but clearly lost woman stopped and asked me to point her toward Reed and all the festivities.  After a short conversation with her which involved a lot of pointing on my part and some near hysterical laughter on hers, I turned back to my car…only to be interrupted once again.  This interruption, however, turned out to be one of my former students who graduated over 4 years ago!

There was a great deal of laughing and hugging and quick catching up (I imagine the other people in line at the Kroger station were ready for me to fill up my car already), but one of the comments that he made in passing changed my entire weekend.  After answering all of my questions about his life that Facebook hadn’t been able to keep me apprised of, he looked over and said, “I just have to tell you, I use the skills we learned in those advisor time activities every day in my job…especially using my Strengths to work with my team!” That, naturally, earned him yet another hug.

As I reflected on his quick comment later in the day (and for the rest of the weekend), it occurred to me that moments like that are what make it worth pushing through the tired and not just dropping those items off of the meeting agenda as life gets busier and the major event gets closer.  He didn’t once mention the conference we spent a year planning together with the other members of his team, or the specific duties of his job…it was the supplemental activities that stuck with him.  I would imagine that his was just an off-handed comment in a quick interaction, but the ripples made a difference.  So, thanks to all the former students everywhere who take the 5, 10, or 60 minutes to drop back by and tell your former advisor what’s going on in your world.  And, to all my future students, thank them for the fact that you, too, are going to continue to be supplemented with advisor time activities…and one day you might appreciate it!

- Sarah Edwards

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