It was great to see so many staff relaxing and having a great time at our Annual Student Affairs Jamboree last Thursday evening at University Bowl. It is important to unwind, have fun and connect with each other on a different level. It is times like this that help renew our perspectives, replenish our reserves and build community especially as we go forward with our summer programming and preparations for the fall semester.
Summer classes are underway and Orientation and Family Programs and many other campus partners have been busy welcoming the newest members of our Roadrunner Community, the Class of 2017 and their families, to UTSA. Throughout the summer, we have an opportunity and responsibility to interact with our newest community members and assist with acclimating them to our university environment and culture. This is an exciting time for our students as they embark on a new educational journey. The services, programs and messages we provide will shape their expectations and set the tone for what is to come.
In addition to my role as Interim Vice President for Student Affairs, I serve as the Associate Vice President for Administration and Student Services where I manage several departments which are spotlighted in this newsletter. These departments play an important role in the engagement of our students when it comes to their development, welfare and self-advocacy. In our REACH model, engagement is also important from the standpoint of engaged citizenship, our second division-wide learning goal. In my opinion, to be “engaged” shows you are a willing participant and have made a commitment to be fully present. Engaged citizenship is the desire to serve and give back to society in ways that benefit others as well as yourself. In its truest sense, engaged citizenship can erase our fundamental differences and allow us to move beyond our own needs, biases and stereotypes and focus on the needs of others. You have the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes and see life through a different lens.
When engaged citizens see a need, they do something about it. UTSA is full of engaged citizens. Our students serve as Peace Corps volunteers. They take part in dance marathons for hours on end to raise money for children who are sick with cancer. They participate in Alternative Spring Break programs to help underserved communities. Through these types of experiences, our students see first-hand the difference they can make. They understand the importance of being part of something greater than themselves. The world becomes a better place when we are engaged citizens.
The call to serve is extremely rewarding and necessary. Engaged citizenship represents the collective voices of those with which we share a community…UTSA and beyond. It promotes cultural awareness and competence and inspires hope and a spirit of inclusion. Let’s continue to expose our students to opportunities to be engaged citizens and encourage them to get involved. Likewise, I encourage each of you to think about opportunities where you can promote and take part in a culture of engagement on our campus. Have you considered becoming a mentor through our Roadrunner Connections program? This is a great way to become engaged with our new students and contribute positively to their educational experience at UTSA.
We Are Student Affairs!