Posts tagged #Student Affairs

New Adventures, New Beginnings

The first month of being a new graduate student in the Florida State University HESA Program

By Ben Cecil

In looking back on my first few months in Tallahassee as a new graduate student in the Higher Education program, I try to think of just one word which might describe this experience – and the closest I can come up with remains “busy.” I always knew that the transition from my undergraduate career to beginning my assistantship in July, plus beginning classes, would give the word a new meaning. As I reflect on the last few months I’ve had since relocating to Tallahassee, I feel proud of the amount of work that we accomplished, and feel a great sense of excitement of knowing what’s all to come.

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For my assistantship, I work with University Housing. I previously served as a RA at my undergraduate institution and truly enjoy the level of interaction I get with my students and residents as a result of my live-in position. I came to Tallahassee in early July, ready to begin our Head Staff training. For three weeks, we went over policies, procedures, and protocols for everything from crisis management, to student staff supervision and advising, to human resources and payroll. For the first time, I felt like I was treated as a professional, and allowed to do my job to the best of my ability. Following Head Staff training, we all got our hands dirty in helping to close our buildings from summer classes, and prepare to open again for our resident assistants and their training.

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As any student affairs professional will attest to, the months of July and August often seem like a blur, full of early mornings, late nights, and weekends in which work becomes the norm. Of course, right after Head Staff training wrapped up, we jumped straight into undergraduate student staff training for our resident assistants, receptionists, and night staff members. For a few days, it felt like I had forgotten why I had chosen to come to Florida State – academics! Having the opportunity able to finally connect with my cohort and enjoy time together with faculty while registering for classes gave us all a breath of fresh air. Special shout out to those HESA Board members who worked so hard to make our orientation a great experience!

Speaking of classes, I truly understand now what the concept of “theory to practice” means. I look most specifically at Dr. Coburn’s Student Personnel Services in Higher Education class, where much of our readings come from the governing bodies of student affairs, and the expectations they set for the professionals in our field. While the workload feels intense, I feel like each assignment is intentionally designed to relate back to exactly what we experience in our assistantships. In addition, I enjoy Research Methods in Higher Education as well as Dr. Schwartz’s Higher Education in America class, all of which have proven intellectually stimulating and thought provoking only a few weeks into the semester.


While it may appear that there isn’t too much time for socializing, the cohorts always find time for a quick bite to eat before or after class, a weekend get-together, or tailgate before a football game. I believe firmly that these colleagues I have met through my cohort will become some of my lifelong friends. I even had the chance to visit New Orleans over Labor Day weekend, a welcomed breath of fresh air after the first week of class. I reflect back on my first few months with a smile, because nothing that has happened since I came to Florida State could have been predicted. The numerous professional development opportunities that presented themselves during the first few weeks of classes serve as nothing but a learning experience, and I now feel as though I can handle any situation thrown my way.

In closing, I smile just thinking over the breadth of opportunities that have already presented themselves at Florida State. I look forward to continue growing in my assistantship and becoming more comfortable in that role, and eagerly await the opportunity to continue learning both inside and outside of the classroom about the dynamic field of Student Affairs. I think what I most am eager for is to continue building relationships with those in the cohort, the faculty, and other staff members across the Division of Student Affairs. If the first few months have started off this great, I can’t wait to see what the next two years have in store.

Go Noles!


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Posted on September 24, 2013 and filed under HESA.

From Tallahassee to D.C…NODA Internship Adventure

June 24, 2013

“Hail to George Mason, don your GREEN and GOLD…” 

That’s the beginning of the “Mason” fight song - the song that runs through my head everyday as I proudly “wear my green and gold” and prepare for another exciting day of orientation!


My summer internship is in the Office of Orientation and Family Programs and Services (OFPS) at George Mason University, located in the suburbs of the nation’s Capitol, Washington, D.C. With the motto, “Where Innovation is Tradition,” George Mason is noted for being one of the most prominent “up and coming” universities in the country. This is clearly evident by its unprecedented growth in enrollment and campus expansion projects in the past few years. What does that have to do with orientation? Everything! This summer, we are serving approximately 2,900 incoming students and their families with over 15 sessions for both transfer students and traditional freshmen.  

Working in the Hardee Center with just Dr. Hardee to keep me company, to working in an orientation setting has been a big adjustment to say the least! Per the nature of orientation, the days are long (15 hours+) and unpredictable. What keeps me motivated and going strong? That’s easy! They are a group of the school’s most energetic and influential students who can be found in their infamous green polos – the 2013 Patriot Leader Team. I have the pleasure of working with over 40 diverse and special young men and women from every facet of campus! As we learn and grow together, they have been an endless source of energy and inspiration for me. They serve as a constant reminder of why I am in this field.    

I also have the opportunity to work with a very talented professional staff, whose focus on student learning and development is second-to-none! From day one, I have been welcomed with open arms and treated like a valuable member of the OFPS team! They have made every effort to invest in my experience to make sure that it is as beneficial to my future as possible. I knew that I had found a home in OFPS when we took a day off for staff development training and, to my surprise, ended up in an indoor trampoline park. As I became one with my inner 5 year old and dodged getting hit in the face with a ball by the director, I was excited for the summer ahead with these individuals. That trip and others are very telling of the office environment and the emphasis on work-life balance that exists in OFPS. As much as I’ve developed as a professional, I’ve also had more fun than I ever expected.     

If you follow me on ANY type of social media, you know that one of my favorite things about interning at George Mason is its proximity to Washington, D.C. Every weekend is a new adventure filled with excitement and mystery. Needless to say, I have never been disappointed. It is simply a magical place. From the mix of culture and politics, fashion and food, landmarks and history, Washington D.C. has provided me with endless opportunities to make my summer one that I will never forget. With just six weeks remaining, I am hopeful and excited for what “the District” will bring!  

As I reflect after completing our first week of orientation, I have realized just how formative and enjoyable that this summer has been. Not to mention BUSY! With that said, my heart and mind often leads me back to Tallahassee. There is not a day that goes by that I do not pull from things that I learned in my assistantship or in a class during my first year at Florida State University. There is also not a day where I do not miss my cohort members – not one. 

This experience has truly shown me the power of the Florida State experience and the impact that it has had on me personally and professionally. We are given so many wonderful opportunities from our affiliation with the FSU LifeNet, including a renowned educational experience that brings theory to practice. My hope for my peers and future members of the FSU Higher Education Program is that they take full advantage of these opportunities and allow it to transform them into the professional that they are meant to be – changing the world, one student at a time!

I am not only honored, but blessed to be a member of the both the FSU LifeNet and the George Mason Family!  I look forward to what the rest of the summer brings and cannot wait to see everyone in the fall!