Life’s Seasonal Changes, as One of My Favorites Comes to an End

As the seasons change and the year goes by, I think about how certain things remain the same while so many other things change. Each season and time of the year has a purpose and impact on how we move through the year. There are things you can write down that you know you will do every fall and spring; and then there are things that you cannot predict that will occur in summer and winter that cause you to pivot and adjust your plan of action. When I think of last winter, I knew I was going to become the next ACUI president and would be preparing my remarks for the Annual Conference in Boston. What I didn’t plan for was how fast the year was going to go by, even as a seasoned professional who acknowledges the years go by fast.

As my time as president comes to end, I reflect on the year, the things we accomplished as an Association, but I am also reflecting on what could have been different or should have been done. I do this while also acknowledging it all happens so very fast. The one thing for me was to continue and build upon the great work done by those that came before me—and to be a partner in continuing to move the Association forward with all its amazing volunteers. 

During my speech, my goal was to call out to our members to volunteer to action, or at the least, ask them to think about, “How they were being a community builder, advancing community, giving back, and being an engaged ACUI member.” I know many of you all thought of those questions and came to action, even if you didn’t realize it. So many of you gave back through our annual Day of Giving, and others at our Regional Conferences—and many of you were first-time givers. Many of you continue to volunteer year after year, while many new members have also become volunteers throughout the ACUI year. Seeing these new and old faces makes me so proud of ACUI and thankful for your commitment of time and expertise to ACUI and to each other.  

While not everyone can volunteer or give for many reasons, I know the one thing that we all did this year, the most important thing of all, was being a community builder and advancing community, not only within ACUI but on your campuses. At ACUI we all have shared expertise and experiences to teach and support one another through the seasons, and it is one of the most valuable assets we have in this Association.

You have taken the time to respond to one another’s questions and create that important space for learning for all of us. You give your time to each other in ways that unify us, despite the differences we recognize on our campuses. All of this allows us to be our best no matter what storm we are faced with. You show up for each other, but most importantly, you are here for the students—fall, winter, spring, and summer. This is what makes our profession—student union and engagement professionals—not only unique but pivotal to the success of the students we serve. We are faced with supporting students during difficult times, advising student organizations that our views don’t always match up with, opening our spaces to all communities, challenging our students to think differently and investigate the opportunities for valuing differing thoughts. We open our spaces during storms when many others are closed or pivot to remote; we have converted spaces into shelters and clinics to support the needs of our campus; and we create programs that engage the mind, while also providing spaces and programs for students to just have fun, to relax, and to develop lifelong friendships.  

You all serve as mentors, supervisors, advisors, teachers, and counselors. Many times, you are faced with changing your role from one interaction to another, based on the situation, and you must do it seamlessly. You are all asked to do this with limited budgets and resources, but you continue to do it because you believe in being community builders. There is a reason why ACUI was founded almost 110 years ago and is still leading the way in community building. There will always be more work to be done, and we will continue to face challenges; but I am confident we will rise to changing weather no matter what, as we are the constant that creates a sense of belonging for so many of our students. 

I am proud to call ACUI my professional home because of the work that you all do. It has not only been an honor and privilege to serve you all, but it has also been one of the proudest moments for me professionally and personally. No matter what I faced this year, I will look back on this year as one of my favorite seasons.