My Favorite Space(s)

Monday brought along another blog prompt from the lovely ladies over at Student Affairs Women Talk Tech. It’s a fairly simple question, and it got me thinking.

   Prompt: Do you have a favorite place/space? Where is it? And why?

I decided to look at the concept of favorite space in 3 different ways because different types of spaces have different meanings. First is my work space. While I enjoy my office at UW-Whitewater, I enjoy the building that it’s in, even more. Career & Leadership Development is located in the University Center (UC) at UWW. The UC was remodeled before I came to UWW for grad school and reopened during the semester before I arrived. Because of working two jobs in this building during my first year of grad school, it became a second home. I worked here, had lunch here, worked on homework here, got coffee here, and on occasion took in some entertainment here (movies, musicians, events, etc.) Needless to say, I’ve spent A LOT of time in the UC. During that first year, I noticed that while the building had a general hum throughout the day, I didn’t think it was really the “hub” of campus – which is what a Union is meant to be. The building had been primarily off-limits for long enough that students altered their routines and really didn’t hang out in the building. Now, a couple years later, this building is hopping. True, it still has it’s quiet moments. However, for a majority of the day, students utilize the building as the HUB of campus. I love it. So much happens here.

My favorite hangout space: White House Coffee in La Grande, Oregon. White House Coffee opened about half-way through my stay in La Grande this past summer. It quickly became one of my favorite places to have a latte, sit in a comfy chair/couch and read in a book. Often, I’d run there during my lunch break just to get away from campus. The owners remodeled a huge white house and decorated it largely with pieces from local artists. Plus, the people who worked there were cool. Sadly, unless I go back to La Grande, I won’t be able to return to White House Coffee. However, I can stay connected through their Facebook page.

Interior of White House Coffee

Finally, my favorite outdoor spaceWallowa Lake State Park in Oregon. As with White House Coffee, I won’t be able to return here unless I visit Oregon again. 😦 I suppose you could say that I just love the mountains, and there was something special about this park. I spent an awesome day hanging out with EOU co-workers hiking while at the park. I loved when we were hiking up at the summit of one of the mountains in the park: Mt. Howard. It was peaceful and gorgeous. I just had to stop and take it all in.

View of the Wallowa Mountains from the top of Mt. Howard

I do want to let you know that I have a lot of favorite spaces near to where I live in Wisconsin. It’s just that the spaces I listed above really have had a lasting impact on me. What’s your favorite space?


Top 10 of 2010

With it nearing the end of 2010, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect upon my top 10 experiences of this year.

10. Put in another good year at my graduate assistantship in the Career & Leadership Development office at UW-Whitewater. The past year at UWW has been pretty good. I’ve had several opportunities to work on various projects, attend conferences, and pursue new ideas for the office. I’ve been a co-author of our blog for about 1.5 years now and in August we started working on Facebook and Twitter accounts (all of which I manage). When I took on my internship at UW-Madison, I had the opportunity to shift my assistantship into a more project based position (which I love!). I’m working on some neat projects involving: social media, creating web content, job searching, green careers and others. I’m going to be sad to see this position end in May when I graduate.

9. Started my Blog (and other social media adventures)! When I started my blog, I wanted to have a space where I could reflect on my summer internship and traveling. I also wanted to have an easy way for family and friends to follow along on my journey. I then added reflecting upon my UW-Madison internship. While that reflection has been a little slower, I still appreciate the time I give myself to do such reflection. I love what my blog has turned into. It’s about my adventure into the Student Affairs profession, along with the other things I love in life. I don’t think it would be fair to have just all student affairs stuff because that isn’t the only thing I love in life. I hope that my blog and my blogging abilities continue to grow as I search for and settle into my first professional position. I also love that I jumped onto the Twitter bandwagon. There are so many cool people out there and it makes the world just a little bit smaller and more accessible. I look forward to some day meeting people in person that I know through online connections.

8. Favorite Book: Eat, Pray, Love. I enjoyed following someone’s journey as they find happiness in life.

7. Starting my Master’s program internship at UW-Madison in the Letters & Science Career Services office. So far, my internship has kept me busy. I’ve enjoyed finally getting to know the flagship university of the UW-System. I have had the opportunity to work with some great students this past semester. I’m looking forward to the next couple months of working with more students as they figure out what to do with their lives.

6. Spending time with family. In one word, my family is awesome! I honestly don’t know what I would do without them. They have been my number one supporters through this grad school journey and taking my internship out in Oregon.

5. Worked on improving my photography skills. Photography has been one of my hobbies that has grown this past year. I loved that I had opportunities to work on my photography skills. This is a hobby that I am looking forward to expanding once I’m done with school in May. Besides my photography tagged posts, my photography interwoven throughout the blog posts.

4. Hiking. Hiking is something I had only done a tiny bit prior to this past summer. My sister and I had done a hike in Devil’s Lake State Park in WI a few years ago, and that was about it for my hiking experience. While I was in Oregon, I had the opportunity to hike at a couple of state parks (Catherine Creek and Wallowa Lake). Once I was back in Wisconsin, I decided to explore the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest near Whitewater. My plan is to start hiking again as soon as Spring rolls around. Should be fun!

3. Traveling. While I have had the opportunity to travel before, it hasn’t be quite so extensive. I was truely bitten by the travel bug while I spent my summer in the Pacific Northwest. I now have an extensive list of places I want to visit (or re-vist) in the future including: several National Parks (Glacier in MT, Yosemite in CA, Crater Lake in OR, Mt. Rainier in WA, Acadia in ME, and several others), New England, and several spots in Wisconsin. My sister and I have already started tenative planning for a trip we want to take in May. We’ll be traveling through several of the Laura Ingalls Wilder historic sites (Pepin, WI; Walnut Grove, MN; and DeSmet, SD) on our way to the Badlands/Black Hills area of South Dakota. We’re both super excited about the trip and can’t wait to take it.

2. Roadtripping with my friend Jennifer from Milwaukee, WI, to the Pacific Ocean at the Olympic Peninsula of Washington.  These 8 days were amazing! Prior to this trip, all the further west I had traveled was central Minnesota. We past that point half way through day 1. Some of the highlights of the trip included: Sioux Falls, SD; Badlands National Park; Mount Rushmore; Wyoming in general had breathtaking scenery; Yellowstone National Park; Grand Teton National Park;  Forks, WA; Olympic National Park; and the world’s largest Spruce tree in the Olympic National Forest. Here are the blog posts that recapped our trip.

1. Living in Oregon for June and July and interning with the Student Affairs division at Eastern Oregon University. This experience was beyond amazing. In reality, the experience was life changing and I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. I learned that I can survive and start a new life in a place where I don’t know anyone. I also learned quite a bit about student affairs and how different it can look at a smaller school. This was one my best summers so far. I had the opportunity to travel, to make new friends, to experience new things, and to enjoy a relaxed version of life. The summer spent in Oregon recharged me and prepared me for my final year of graduate school. While I don’t know quite yet if I’d want to live out west, I will definitely be visiting again (and hopefully soon!). Check out my weekly recaps of my time at Eastern Oregon University.

Now that I’ve figured out the awesome events of my life for 2010, I need to nail down my resolutions and goals for 2011. Happy New Year to everyone! I hope that 2011 is even better than 2010!!

A Summer of Learning

My Eastern Oregon University internship has been done for a week. It’s hard to realize that it has been that long already. I spent most of the last week on the road traveling from Oregon to Wisconsin by car. If you want an adventure, try doing that trip on your own. All went well, thankfully. It’s kind of fun to say that I drove through 4 mountain ranges in Rockies in one day…on my own.

The last week of my internship flew by in a blur. I was able to tidy up each of my projects and hand them off to their respective people. I completed the second round of edits to the Student Code of Conduct, entered several forms into OrgSync for the Center for Student Involvement office and completed a few last minute mini research projects for various people. I find it funny that the only day during my internship that I stayed late, was my last day on the job. I offered my help to our student worker who was doing a massive amount of filing that went conjunction with the room assignments that were happening that week.

My last night in La Grande was capped off with a BBQ at a co-worker’s house. It was nice to see everyone that I worked with during the summer one last time in a non-work setting. I will genuinely miss everyone I met, and worked with, this summer. I could not have asked for a better division to spend two months with.

During my last week, I had somewhat of an “exit interview” with my supervisor. She asked me a variety of questions. Some questions were about my learning and others were in regards to what could be done differently if they have an intern in the future. My learning was vast and ventured far outside the walls of the office. The two biggest items I am taking away from this internship are: independence and connection. On the surface, those two concepts are seemingly opposite of the each other. I considered myself a fairly independent person going into this experience. I think it is now a firmly solidified staple of my life. I know that I can go somewhere completely foreign to me and be ok. I know I’ll be okay, because of the ability to create connections with others and to form a support system for myself. Connection can come in several forms. Those forms can be: in-person, phone, email, Skype, blogging, Twitter, etc. All of those forms of connection create support, wherever you are physically. Having stronger senses of independence and connection will bode well for me in the future as I approach the student affairs job search this coming year.

One of my favorite opportunities I partook in this summer was contributing to UW-Whitewater’s Internship Blog. My co-worker Laura came up with the idea of “Confessions of a Summer Intern” as her series for the summer. The series featured 4 students participating in various internships. I did a somewhat different take for reflecting upon the summer. You should check it out. The series was a nice way to reflect upon my summer experience, for a different audience. I was thinking about undergrad students and other grad students who might be reading and hoping that my experiences will help them to decide to complete an internship during their educational careers.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for the moment. I hope that you’ve enjoyed coming along the ride for my summer internship. I have definitely enjoyed writing about the experience each week. I have a little over a week off from everything work or school related. Soon, I’ll start up my graduate assistantship again at UW-Whitewater. A couple weeks after that, I will be starting training for my UW-Madison internship. Let the wild ride of the next academic year begin! Did I mention that I’ll have class two nights a week too during fall semester? I am making myself tired just writing about it all. 🙂 Even though the next year will be extremely busy, I will be writing here about it all. I hope to continue developing my blog and adding some personal pieces as well; especially as my loves of photography and travel continue to grow.

EOU Internship Week 8

Week 8 at EOU held quite a variety of activities. I wrapped up a project on MAP Works for Res Life, started designing a brochure for the breakout sessions during welcome week orientation, had an afternoon of labeling a save-the-date mailing for move-in/orientation, assisted in making door decs for a football camp that was coming that is doing fundraising for Shriner’s Hospital, and had an interesting Thursday at the Student Affairs Retreat. Like I said, a lot of variety.


EOU Campus & Door Dec

I spent some quality time at one of my favorite places in La Grande: White House Coffee. It’s a brand new coffee shop that opened at the end of June. It’s an old white house that has been gutted, remodeled, and turned into a funky coffee shop where you can go and sit & read for hours. Trust me, I’ve done that. Plus, their coffee (well, lattes and mochas for me) is good!

Inside White House Coffee 

One evening, I believe on Wednesday, I was working on reading in Beginning Your Journey, and came across a great passage that made me just think for a while. The quote is from J. Rhatigan’s article, “Simple gifts: Reflections on the profession,” from the NASPA Journal. Here’s the quote:

“What directs your life? What are the sources of the answers you have achieved? How does this bear on your work? Often the word “journey” is used, an appropriate metaphor, reminding us that the answers to these questions are not always the same, even in an individual life. Most importantly, the word journey recognizes movement toward a destination. The pursuit occurs across time in our relationships with people and in our journey into the self.”

Here’s what I make of it: every journey is toward a destination or goal, once that destination/goal is reached another journey is spurred towards yet another destination. Whether personal or professional, I don’t think the destination should be the focus of the overall picture, I think the journey should be. Everything you learn along the journey, makes the destination that much more worthwhile.

What do you make of this passage?

My time in La Grande is rapidly coming to an end. I’m leaving in a week! As I’ve mentioned in recent posts – I’m sad and happy that this “journey” is coming to an end. I’ve loved my summer in Oregon and I highly enjoy all of the individuals I have had an opportunity to work with for this short period of time. I’m excited to see my family and friends in just over a week. It’ll be a very happy reunion!! See you all soon!

Just want to leave you with a picture of sunrise from yesterday. Granted, it’s coming up over a residence hall, and it was still cool.

EOU Internship Week 7

Another week here and gone. This summer is flying by way too fast! I had another busy week at work. I’m starting to think about how projects need to be wrapped up by the time I have to leave. It’s a little daunting at the moment, and it will all work out in the end. I spent a lot of my week work on edits to the Student Code of Conduct, along with working on projects with our OrgSync and MAP Works software programs.

It’s starting to really sink in that this summer is about so much more than my internship position. I’ve enjoyed working in a different school, with different people, and in a different department. At the same time, I challenged myself to put myself in a completely foreign environment (aka: Oregon) to have the opportunity to grow as a person. I feel that I’ve met that challenge. However, I can’t really put it all into words at the moment. I do know that I have been more reflective about work, life, etc., on a more consistent basis. Maybe in August or September I’ll really know what this summer was all about. I am just happy that I decided to seek out an opportunity that wasn’t required of me for my grad program. I did it because I wanted to have a different experience. Besides having an internship, the real goal of this summer was to travel. The want to travel has turned into a love of traveling. I’m already starting to think about where I want to go next summer (grad present to myself!).

I had dinner at a colleague’s house on Thursday night. He lives up on Mt. Emily just outside of town. We all sat out on the deck and watched the sun set. It was so relaxing. My supervisor was at dinner as well. She was asking about what my expectations had been going into this whole experience. I was honest with her and said that I really didn’t have any set expectations. I knew the summer would leave a permanent mark on me and my perspective on life, and that was (and still is) a huge unknown answer. I guess all this rambling means: it’s okay not to know what the end result will be when you jump into something new. That’s why it’s called a leap of faith. Or put another way: great reward does not come without great risk.

I just wanted to leave you with this one last fun thing. We had the Monty mascot costume in our office this week. Our student worker, Tasha, was gracious enough to model part of it for me!

Home in a Month: EOU Week 6

This week I came to the realization that in a month’s time I would be back home in Wisconsin. This realization was both happy and sad. Happy: I get to see my family and friends, back to work at UWW CLD, and starting my internship at UW-Madison. Sad: I’ll have to leave this beautiful place that I’ve been calling home since the end of May and I’ll have to leave all of my new colleagues. With only 3 weeks left of my internship, I guess I should start planning my trip home.

Work itself picked up this week. It was nice to have everyone back from vacations so that projects could start progressing. Right now, my biggest project is assisting with the revision of the Student Code of Conduct. Up to this point, the project has mostly centered around researching other codes of conduct and related topics. Now, I’m actually working on the first draft of edits. It’s fun to help shape a policy document. While I haven’t necessarily suggested changes, I’m learning a lot on how to do the actual editing.

In other news:

– La Grande has hit the 90* mark. Grass is starting to turn a little crispy and sprinklers are out in full force. I’m loving the lack of humidity and that the sky is virtually cloudless each day.

– I finished my first knitting project the other day! It’s a beautiful teal scarf with a basketweave pattern…and fringe! I started my next project, which is also a scarf (different pattern and yarn).

– I’m attempting to kick my soda habit. So far, I’m on day two and doing alright. While I want to discontinue drinking soda, I still love my lattes!

– Finally get to go to Wallowa Lake on Saturday. I’m ready to do some hiking and to hang out with colleagues.

EOU Internship Week 5: Thank You!

Another week of my Eastern Oregon University internship has come and gone. It was a rather quiet week for me because my supervisor was on vacation all week. With other people in the division also on vacation, several of my projects came to a slow crawl because I’m waiting for everyone to get back from vacation. On the plus side, I was able to do a lot of professional development reading this week. I continued reading in the Beginning Student Affairs book that I’ve been working on since the beginning of June and also read about social media, leadership education, and other various topics. I also found several articles that I would like to read at some point ranging from ethics to assessment to greek life.

A topic that came up several times in multiple spots was mentoring. Essentially, a mentor is an established person in a profession helping to develop a person who is just starting a profession. I started thinking about the “mentors” in my own life. I realized that I didn’t formally seek out any of them. The relationships formed naturally in the workplace, in the classroom, and in life. I don’t think it’s realistic to have just one mentor. One mentor cannot possibly meet all the needs of a mentee. I have come to cherish vastly different mentors in the various venues in my life. To all of you, whether you are mentioned here or not, I just want to thank you for every piece of wisdom you have passed on to me. I honestly would not be the person I am today without you. My, reading that back to myself, it sounds kind of corny. Oh well, it’s all true. I don’t think people take enough time (or make enough effort) to thank those who make an impact on their lives. I hope that through time, these mentor/mentee relationships will continue to grow.

Now I want to take the time to thank those that mean the most to me. Some of these folks are in student affairs and others are a part of my life outside of work.

– To my mom and dad: thank you for showing me what hard work is, what it’s like to have a loving, caring, and encouraging environment to grow up in, and for all of the endless support you give so unconditionally.

– To my sister: you are so intelligent, expressive, funny/goofy, and I love to just hang out with you doing nothing. Thank you for always being there, no matter what. Even if it’s to go see Harry Potter movies! This month is going to be so long without you!

– To Ron: thank you for being a supervisor who challenges me each day. Thank you for letting me be a part of transforming the graduate assistantship position. I’m looking forward to the next year in Career & Leadership.

– To Kathy: thank you for our morning coffee/breakfast chats. I’m missing them greatly this summer while I’m away. I always know who to go to if I have a question, whether it’s about work or not.

– To Laura: I don’t know where to begin. Working with you on internship projects this past year was great. I learned a lot. I mostly want to thank you for instilling a sense of adventure in me – especially going into this internship in Oregon. Your own journey of becoming more intune with nature and the outdoors has rubbed off on me a bit. Nature is a beautiful thing and needs to be observed and cherished. Thank you for helping me enjoy my summer “adventure” even more than I knew was possible.

– To Ashley: thank you for being an amazing friend. My grad school experience would be so different without you. I know that you will do great things with your future! Thank you for continuing to challenge me in ways probably neither one of us even realizes.

– To the Student Affairs professionals I have met online: thank you for sharing your wisdom and experiences of the field. I hope to meet you in person some day to say thank you.

– To everyone else: I apologize that I didn’t mention you individually. That would be an extremely long blog post. Thank you. For everything and anything. I’m reminded of what my professor Brenda said to me during practicum last fall: “you are only a part of your client’s journey.” Thank you for being a part of my journey, no matter how short or long you’ve been a part of it.

Okay, sappiness over. I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July weekend. Enjoy the sun and summer weather! I know I will be as I am spending the whole weekend in Portland. I’ll post some pictures when I get back.