We’re All Ordinary People
The first night of NASPA opened up with a welcome from recording star John Legend. I was initially skeptical about his selection as our keynote, but was pleasantly surprised and impressed. He spoke about education as a change agent, being an important tool in breaking the cycle of poverty, something we all can and should play a role in. Of course, he also performed for us and one of his songs, Ordinary People, had me thinking specifically about all of us working in Student Affairs.
Our profession has a tendency to place some on a pedestal. We have our “rock stars”, the names we recognize and might aspire to be, made even more aware by our connections through social media. We have our pillars, the folks who have moved our profession forward through research and practice, and for whom we crowd education sessions just to be present in a room with someone whose work we have studied in our graduate courses. In the end, however, these folks are just ordinary people, like the rest of us. We all play such a crucial role in changing the lives of students every day. Some of us may never have our names recognized by anyone beyond our supervisors or our families, but that doesn’t dull the impact we are having. Our associations are built on the shoulders of volunteers, those who review ed sessions, staff registration tables, and stuff conference bags. There are thousands of us taking the research done by some of our pillars and applying that to every day practice. For every name we recognize, there’s 100 more student affairs professionals we will never meet or even be aware of, and yet their work is having an impact on us individually as well as our profession as a whole. As we celebrate our award winners and our retiring “superstars” lets also reflect on the contribution of all of the “ordinary people” who make our profession thrive and challenge it to be better every day.