Advising a student conference
By Lisa Gilbert
My junior year of college I received a character-themed packet of pure gold. It contained nearly everything I would need to know in order to write a resume, a personal statement, a cover letter - the core of what I would need to apply to graduate school or a job in student affairs. Spelled out in a thirteen page document was the beginning of a career choice, one that offered the opportunity to help people and facilitate change that would matter.
Two years later I'm a three-time FRAS veteran and a first year graduate student studying student affairs.
My junior year of college I attended FRAS, the Florida Resident Assistant Seminar. FRAS is a two day student conference seeking to provide an opportunity for RAs from across the state to share ideas and to learn from one another. Usually anywhere from 20-30 schools are in attendance, resulting in over a hundred eager and energetic RAs seeking knowledge from their peers and professionals. RAs learn new programming ideas to bring back to their residence halls, methods of coping with the stress of their jobs, ways to sell their skills in job interviews, and gain insight on issues such as diversity and social justice.
This year I was given the opportunity to advise Florida State's FRAS delegation alongside a Residence Coordinator. We embarked on a four month long adventure that involved crafting, philanthropy collection, learning chants and working on presentation submissions. I was able to watch my students go from having no understanding of all that FRAS would encompass to seeing them bouncing in their seats with excitement en route to Gainesville for the conference.
Throughout the course of the weekend I saw my students connect with individuals from other institutions, forming friendships they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to create. They attended conference sessions that further opened their eyes to the world of Residence Life, learning about the differences in policy and job expectations between institutions. They demonstrated school pride with utmost class, representing their university well all weekend. Our delegation networked with professionals from across the state, making connections that will benefit them later in life. Over the course of that two day conference, I saw my students grow exponentially. And while I was trying to guide them towards a place of growth, I realized that I had grown, too.
FRAS was a life changing conference for me. It was at FRAS that I chose a career path, met some future colleagues, found mentors and role models that I could look up to. FRAS not only helped me grow as a RA, and now as a #SAgrad, but it helped me grow as a person as well. Advising this year's FRAS delegation provided me with the opportunity to see this conference have the same impact on the students I was working with. Accompanying this great group of students on their adventure also allowed me to experience FRAS for the first time again, but from a different perspective. Being a part of passing on the FRAS tradition to the next generation of Student Affairs professionals has been indescribably rewarding. I can only hope that in years to come, some of my RAs will have a chance to be sitting where I am and realize what a gift it is to give back.