Thursday, March 22, 2012
Jayme Brunner - From Vision to Decision
The best way I can describe the reason I chose to go into Student Affairs and what it’s like to be a first generation student is this…
After my senior year of high school, I was at a summer leadership conference in Washington D.C. Every morning for one week I would approach Washington D.C. with the rest of my conference attendees, and as we got closer to the city I noticed more people dressed up in suits with their briefcases heading into work towards the city.
In contrast, I noticed people dressed up in blue-collar work uniforms heading out of the city with their lunch pales. I thought to myself, hypothetically, if this were a situation in which Washington D.C. represented a college education, I would be walking towards the city in my suit and briefcase, but my parents would actually be walking in the opposite direction on their way to work. This resonated with me in a way that I knew I had to forge a life that my parents did not have the opportunity to have at my age. Especially, growing up in rural South Dakota with a town population less than 200 people, a pursuit in college isn’t exactly something that is overly talked about, but to me it was more than just a degree, it was about getting an education.
At my Alma Mater, South Dakota State University, I started out as a Resident Assistant and worked in various campus organizations, student affairs departments, and civic engagement opportunities in the local town of Brookings, South Dakota. I knew early on I wanted to go into counseling, teaching, politics, or social work. However, it wasn’t until I partook in an ACUHO-I summer internship at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington that I knew I wanted to pursue a degree in Student Affairs and Higher Education after I completed my Bachelors of Science in Sociology. For some context, I wasn’t enjoying the rules and confinement that a K-12 teacher felt, but I also wasn’t enjoying the mono-job occupations that politics, counseling, and social work brought. Student Affairs could combine all of my career interests into one life long process along with the population I enjoyed working with the most. I am thankful for the connections I made that summer and the mentorship that followed me through my final year as an undergraduate student. To me, Student Affairs is where my strengths and passions meet to contribute to a bigger goal than my own personal agenda.
Furthermore, I started my graduate school hunt and ended up at the last school I applied to, Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California. I knew after I visited the campus, met my future cohort, and received the assistantship that was the best fit- I knew that is where the beginning of my Student Affairs Career would start. Now, exactly one year later, as new incoming first years are arriving to interview for positions, I still agree this was the best professional and personal decision I’ve made. I am currently in the Office of Community-Based Federal Work Study where I am a Coordinator for Community-Based Student Development. We employ eligible federal work-study students into our 12 community partnerships that are aimed to close the achievement gap in the local community. In California, the government builds jail cells by how many kids cannot read by the 4th grade. Our programs such as our tutoring services are ways in which college students can help prevent this from becoming a reality.
In conclusion, It’s self-rewarding to know that in the profession of Student Affairs and as a first generation college graduate that I can help produce and develop well rounded college students who are going to be change makers in the lives of others. One person can change the world, and thankfully like many others, I found a profession that puts that theory to practice. Every college student and person deserves to be like the people in Washington D.C. with a suit and a briefcase. I am currently loving the process of being a transplant in Southern California from the heartland of the Midwest, but most of all I am happily waking up every day in the comfort of my decision to be in Student Affairs and to be proud that I am joining many others as a first generation success story.