CAMPUSPEAK http://www.campuspeak.com Fri, 17 Nov 2017 19:42:24 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.8 99955535 The Problem With Reporting http://www.campuspeak.com/problemreporting/ Tue, 14 Nov 2017 18:01:54 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26503 By: Tracy Maxwell, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker Why we can’t wait for or rely upon hazing being reported This summer, Congressional Representatives Pat Meehan (R-PA) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) introduced legislation called the Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (or REACH Act) that would require colleges and universities to both educate students about hazing and report hazing […]

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By: Tracy Maxwell, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker

Why we can’t wait for or rely upon hazing being reported

This summer, Congressional Representatives Pat Meehan (R-PA) and Marcia Fudge (D-OH) introduced legislation called the Report and Educate About Campus Hazing (or REACH Act) that would require colleges and universities to both educate students about hazing and report hazing information in annual crime statistics required under the Clery Act. I want to state unequivocally up front that I am in favor of this legislation for a number of reasons.

In the past few decades, hazing has finally begun to be treated like the crime that it is in most circles rather than dismissed as “boys will be boys” fun and games or pranks as it has been in the past (and still is to some extent in professional sports). The Clery Act, signed in 1990, required colleges and universities to maintain and report statistics about crime on campus in response to the rape and murder of Jeanne Clery at Lehigh University in 1986. Since 44 states have passed anti-hazing laws, it is high time for it to be included in these statistics.

As a hazing educator and consultant, I strongly believe that the educational requirement can have a significant impact on the community’s understanding of hazing and its consequences. However, I want to caution against a wholesale belief that this legislation is a magic bullet to this very complex and long-standing social problem. One parent said of the legislation, “If it had been in place in 2007, our son would be alive today.” I completely empathize with a parent’s desire for that statement to be true, but I caution against believing that any single approach, legislative or otherwise, will end hazing forever.

There continues to be sexual assaults in spite of all the efforts made on that front and its inclusion in campus reporting for nearly 30 years. There is no doubt they are mostly handled much better now and perhaps reported more often, though it is estimated that 63% of sexual assaults are not reported to police, and 90% of campus rapes are not reported at all (National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2015). It is dangerous to think that increased reporting will completely eliminate hazing either. Sexual assault is often referred to as the least reported crime, but research from the University of Maine (Allan & Madden, 2008) shows that the vast majority of hazing isn’t reported either. For that reason alone, it is unwise for universities to rely on reporting as the only or even the best method for dealing with hazing effectively.

How reports are dealt with

Even when hazing is reported by a victim who experienced it first-hand, the chances of that report leading to a conviction in a court of law or even a guilty finding in a campus conduct process seem to be quite low. In the case of Timothy Piazza at Penn State, there was a video of the events leading to his death, and no question about what occurred, and still a district judge threw out most of the 900 charges against 18 individuals after an initial hearing. In countless other cases across the country, charges have not been filed at all, and even when they are, hazing cases rarely go to trial and are unlikely to lead to actual convictions or significant consequences for perpetrators.

In other instances, students “get their stories straight” and band together to keep the facts hidden, making it incredibly difficult to investigate or adjudicate effectively. Most often everyone involved finds the experience frustrating and ineffective, causing some to surrender their hopes of ever making progress on this seemingly intractable issue. This combination of factors can make it difficult to produce any meaningful outcome or even learning experience for those involved through either a student conduct or criminal proceeding, even in extremely egregious cases.

The most common form of sanctioning on the organizational level is often the most extreme – loss of a season or even dissolution of a team and complete disbanding of organizations. In that case, one hazing organization is shuttered leaving others operating in a student culture that often continues to support the practice. In cases of less extreme sanctioning, the campus community is often not informed about the outcome thus eliminating any deterrent effect on the rest of the community. Sometimes there is so much confusion and annoyance because of the lack of reliable information after the fact that it actually discourages future reporting altogether as students aren’t clear what, if anything, happens to organizations or individuals who are charged.

Most hazing is never reported

The statistics above refer only to that which students actually identify as hazing, but the same study revealed that 9 in 10 don’t recognize what happened to them as hazing, although behaviors they detailed would clearly be identified as such. As much as 95% of hazing is never reported. At least part of the reason is that students don’t want to get their team/organization in trouble (37%). Additionally, 36% say they would not report hazing primarily because “there’s no one to tell,” and 27% feel that adults won’t handle it right (Allan & Madden, 2008).

There is a tremendous amount of confusion when it comes to this issue, and as professionals and advisors, we haven’t always done the best job of clarifying this for students. We have sometimes stated that anything one group has to do that another doesn’t is automatically hazing, but this doesn’t meet the humiliation or potential for physical or psychological harm standard set forth in the most commonly used hazing definitions. Sometimes newer members have to do things that older members have already done, but that doesn’t necessarily make those activities hazing or even detrimental. It is the context of those activities that determine whether or not they are hazing.

Second-class citizenship type behaviors are a slippery slope, and can certainly indicate, or lead to more serious or dangerous activities. When we make a federal case out of seemingly minor issues, students get understandably frustrated. When everything is hazing, then nothing is hazing, and it can be incredibly difficult for students to identify what crosses the line. It is useful to remind them that they know the difference between what is helpful and what is harmful, even when it is difficult to determine whether or not it is hazing. Long-standing traditions, alumni pressure to do what was done in the past and students who only know what was done to them lead to organizational cultures in which dangerous practices continue without being questioned by participants.

It is only in the last 20 years that we have any significant data on hazing. We are just beginning to scratch the surface on what types of hazing are most common among which groups, and when it is most likely to occur. We still have little understanding of why people haze and allow themselves to be hazed, though the practice dates back centuries. For this reason, the educational requirement of the legislation is a very good idea, and more research is needed as well.

Many campuses and organizations provide for the anonymous reporting of hazing and even allow conduct cases to proceed without a named complainant. This helps make it easier for students to make the decision to come forward, but for most, the stigma and likely ostracizing they will face does not make reporting a viable or safe path to take. When education increases and recognition of hazing becomes more clear-cut, reports will likely rise, and that is a good thing, as it allows practices that have likely been around for some time to be brought to light. But as administrators, if we are waiting to deal with hazing until it is reported then we are missing the boat. Like an iceberg, more than 90-percent of which is underwater, most hazing will remain hidden and unreported. Therefore, it is crucial that we are taking actions well upstream of potential problems in order to do all we can to steer clear of a catastrophic collision course. Waiting for someone to scream, “Iceberg, straight ahead,” or even after we have rammed into it full-speed is too late.

Works Cited

National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Statistics about sexual violence:

information and statistics for journalists, 2015.        

     http://nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/publications_nsvrc_factsheet_media-

     packet_statistics-about-sexual-violence_0.pdf

Allan, E.J, & Madden, M. (2008). Hazing in view: College students at risk. Initial        

     findings from the national study of student hazing.

To learn more about Tracy Maxwell and her program offerings, visit campuspeak.com/maxwell.

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Surviving and Thriving in the Wake of Oppression http://www.campuspeak.com/oppression/ Tue, 14 Nov 2017 12:33:46 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26504 By: Stacey Pearson-Wharton, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of speaking with students about the impact of implicit and hidden bias within all of us. Recently, students have begun questioning whether microaggressions aimed at them are, in fact, macroaggressions that are intentional, premeditated, or deliberate. Given the rash of […]

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By: Stacey Pearson-Wharton, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker

Over the past few years, I have had the privilege of speaking with students about the impact of implicit and hidden bias within all of us. Recently, students have begun questioning whether microaggressions aimed at them are, in fact, macroaggressions that are intentional, premeditated, or deliberate. Given the rash of hate and bias incidents on campuses, including tiki torch-wielding white supremacists; an African American student being harassed by a roommate who suggests that she put her toothbrush “where the sun doesn’t shine,” and swastika stickers appearing in greater number, it is reasonable to expect that students who have marginalized identities are increasingly concerned and anxious. This article will provide some real, practical help in dealing with blatant, in-your-face racism, sexism, homophobia, cis-genderism, classism, ableism and other forms of oppression, that will allow individuals to thrive in the wake intentional hate and bias.

  1. Healthy Cultural Paranoia is Real. Healthy Cultural Paranoia is an inherent mistrust that is required to survive in society. It is not your imagination to feel that all eyes are on you every time slavery or the Japanese internment camps come up in a history class. You are not wrong to feel a little unsettled when you have an encounter with the police, or even to question whether you are being unfairly targeted for being late to class by a professor. This vigilance is important and has served as a successful survival strategy for many generations. It is normal to take precautions to avoid danger in the form of failure, injury or prejudice, oppression, and hostility. Continue to stay vigilant, but don’t allow it to rule your life. Not all people who hold privilege in society are out to harm or injure you.
  1. It’s Not You, It’s Them. When you experience an intentional expression of oppression, it feels like a betrayal, it’s hurtful and maddening. It can also feel like an attack on your personhood, the essence of your soul. Do all you can to de-personalize that kind of treatment. Hold onto the knowledge that you are not the problem; the person displaying this oppressive behavior is the one with the problem.Doing all you can to take responsibility for your own reaction to this type of behavior, and to gain insight from it, will help you to recover after experiencing blatant discrimination. As a psychologist, I work with clients who are trying to negotiate a difficult experience. I assure them that the people who are most resilient see the negative events they experience as external, situational and unstable. In other words, they know they did not create the situation and the negative and unstable behavior directed at them. It came from outside of them and has nothing to do with who they are.Individuals who struggle with hypersensitivity, anxiety, and depression see events that happen to them as internal, dispositional, and stable, i.e., as a normal part of their lives because of who they are. I know being called the n-word or the f-word cuts deep. Often, we internalize the slur as if we did something wrong. But think about this – unless there is a racist near, you will not experience racism.A person’s need to oppress another is their own problem, pathology, position, and privilege. Do everything you can to reinforce that this not your problem and these are not your issues. You may need to remind yourself repeatedly that what is happening is not your fault. You cannot take responsibility for someone else’s behavior. You have absolutely no power to control this oppressive behavior in others. It has been around since the beginning of time and cannot be eradicated by assuming a part of the responsibility for this behavior yourself.
  1. Find your Voice. Experiencing on-going, blatant macroaggressions can have a silencing effect. Racial “battle fatigue” often leads to silence when one becomes too weary to continue standing up to racial injustice. That silence can be deafening. Remember, you can only eat poop for so long before you start to vomit. If you are the victim of blatant, deliberate oppression, speak up! You choose the time, the place and the listeners – the way it will have the most benefit for you. Find the strength to report injurious treatment. Engage in activism. Start a petition or go through the conduct process.  Find your voice and make it heard. Hold perpetrators accountable by informing people who are able to make that happen. And make sure you are not carrying the load of someone else’s mistreatment because that burden is much too heavy to handle by yourself. There is help out there.
  1. There’s Healing in Community. Being the victim of blatant, intentional harassment can take a toll on you. Be sure to get support from the people and place that matter in your life. Affinity groups, people who hold similar identities, friend groups, family or faith communities, are a good place to start. While you don’t have to share with everybody, be sure to share with somebody. We were not created to be islands. Isolating your self will only make things worse. Being with and getting support from others can be a healing balm.

The documented increase in hate and bias incidents concerns me. I believe that healing for victims is possible.  Remember, your reactions are normal. Your voice has power–use it. You are not at fault for other people’s behavior and you need those around you for support. It is my hope that these truths will help the next time you experience blatant and intentional hate, discrimination or bias.

To learn more about Stacey Pearson-Wharton and her program offerings, visit campuspeak.com/pearson-wharton.

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#Activism or #Validation? http://www.campuspeak.com/activism/ Tue, 07 Nov 2017 13:49:08 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26459 By: James Robilotta, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker #Activisim or #Validation? Over the past couple months I have been trying to think about why I post what and when I do online. Is social media all just one big pat on the back? Or is “#Activism” important and effective? I wonder if I should Snapchat about the service […]

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By: James Robilotta, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker

#Activisim or #Validation?

Over the past couple months I have been trying to think about why I post what and when I do online. Is social media all just one big pat on the back? Or is “#Activism” important and effective? I wonder if I should Snapchat about the service work I occasionally do. I debate about ranting in a political post about piss-poor leadership. I toil over posting, “I believe you.” Here are some of the questions I ask myself:

Do I do it because I hope it inspires others? Or do I post because I want to feel better about myself?

Do I post to enlighten? Or do I post because I am not good at convincing myself that I am enough?

Do I post because I care? Or do I post because if I don’t then I’m afraid people will think I do not care?

Do I post because I have a louder microphone because of my privilege and I should use it to help amplify those who are silenced? Or do I post because I can?

Do I post because change needs to happen? Or do I post because I happen to want change?

Do I post to let others know they are seen? Or do I post because of white male guilt?

Do I post because I believe you? Or do I post because I want you to believe me?

Do I post because I am an activist? Or do I post because I just need validation?

I am sure my answer to all of those scenarios somewhat depends on the day, topic, and my self-esteem. But in the fascinating world of social media and at a time where personal branding is queen/king, I think it’s time we take a pause and reflect. It is easy to post an angry thought about the most recent atrocity and it is easy to send prayers to Houston, Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, New York City, etc. But it’s much harder to listen to people’s stories when your life has not been directly affected. It’s much harder to try and walk in someone else’s shoes. It’s much harder to put our words into action. I know because I’m not always the best at it. But I will be better. Our compassion is important, our empathy is better, but our action is paramount.

I’m trying to figure out why I post on social media. Why do you?

 

To learn more about James Robilotta and his programs, visit campuspeak.com/robilotta.

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Headbands of Hope http://www.campuspeak.com/hohvista/ Tue, 31 Oct 2017 16:38:04 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26416 Jess Ekstrom started Headbands of Hope when she was in college. For every headband sold, one is given to a child with cancer. Recently, she teamed up with Vistaprint to show their DIY Headband Days that they bring to kids with cancer all over the world. Interested in bringing Jess to your campus? Visit campuspeak.com/ekstrom.

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Jess Ekstrom started Headbands of Hope when she was in college. For every headband sold, one is given to a child with cancer. Recently, she teamed up with Vistaprint to show their DIY Headband Days that they bring to kids with cancer all over the world.

Interested in bringing Jess to your campus? Visit campuspeak.com/ekstrom.

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Diversity & Inclusion: Actions Speak Louder Than Words http://www.campuspeak.com/actionsspeak/ Wed, 18 Oct 2017 17:42:46 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26307 By: Suzette Walden Cole, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker Have you noticed an uptick in the number of incidents on campus involving hate speech and bias incidents, including racism, transphobia, anti-immigrant, etc.? Has an incident happened on your campus? In your fraternity/sorority or other organization to which you belong? Has it happened to someone you know? Or have […]

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By: Suzette Walden Cole, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker

Have you noticed an uptick in the number of incidents on campus involving hate speech and bias incidents, including racism, transphobia, anti-immigrant, etc.? Has an incident happened on your campus? In your fraternity/sorority or other organization to which you belong? Has it happened to someone you know? Or have you directly experienced an incident?

BuzzFeed News reported on September 27, 2017, and shared they explored over 400 alleged incidents reported to the Documenting Hate project, a database ProPublica established to capture information about hate crimes and bias incidents. Through interviews, police reports, public statements and media coverage, BuzzFeed News could confirm 154 of those incidents on more than 120 campuses across the country since the 2016 election. There was no rhyme or reason to any one type of institution or locality. Public, private, ivy-league, community colleges, institutions large and small have seen these types of incidents manifest. Before you run out and organize a campaign, let’s reflect on a few things.

Be careful about being “color-blind” – no, I’m not talking about the legal definition.

Suzette Walden Cole

As I’ve traveled the country and spent time with students, I’ve heard a growing number of people begin to say things like, “I don’t see color, Suzette. I see the person.” Well, Pumpkins, let’s break down the wrongness of that statement. Research shows, “it is nearly impossible not to notice race, especially the physical features of people of color” (Sue, 2015). In fact, “of all the dimensions of social categorization, psychologists overwhelmingly conclude that racial categorization and recognition are among the quickest and most automatic cognitive processing responses made by individuals” (Ito & Urland, 2003).

More importantly, when you say that, you’re essentially saying to individuals who identify as people of color that you don’t see them for who they are as humans. You’re saying, whether intentional or not, that you aren’t recognizing those issues that impact people of color because of that identity.

Commitments to diversity require self-reflection.

Suzette Walden Cole
In distinguishing between diversity and inclusion, Verna Myers offered, “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” I would add that it’s being able to dance in one’s own, authentic style. It’s imperative that we spend time in self-reflection if we want to show up as an ally, partner, or champion in the social justice arena. Think about who you spend the most time with and who spends the most time with you. How much do you share in common with those individuals? What’s different? Have you thought about your own identities and whether they come with privilege?

As a White, Christian, heterosexual, married, cisgen, native American-English speaker, I have a number of identities that come with privilege. For our purposes, privilege is the concept that there are advantages and opportunities that come to you because of your identity. Or, I use the definition that privilege is the idea that something is not a problem because it’s not a problem for you. It would be easy for me to go through life thinking that if you work hard, then the world is full of possibilities. While that is true to a certain extent, there are other identities that I have which place me in a marginalized group. I am a woman, was abused, experienced sexual harassment, grew up in a low-income area, and was the first in my immediate family to achieve a bachelor’s degree.

Understanding yourself provides the gateway to recognize potential for unconscious bias and places where you make assumptions. Engaging in this work increases our ability to recognize when voices are missing, or when people don’t feel able to show up as their authentic selves. If you move through the cycle, then you more freely engage in conversations to ensure a greater level of inclusion. You cannot be committed to diversity and not have done your own work to discover your biases and knowledge gaps.

Are you granting passive acceptance?

Suzette Walden Cole

When was the last time you explored your personal say-do gaps? If you say that you value diversity and inclusion, you see yourself as an ally, and/or you consider yourself “woke,” are you consistent in that space? Scroll through your Snapchat story, Vine videos, Instagram, Twitter, or posts to other social media forums. Think about the jokes made in your presence that maybe you’ve laughed off. Have there been times when you’ve seen something and not said something?

Say-do gaps are where our actions directly conflict with the words we use to describe our values. About 10 years ago, I remember being in Denver, CO, for a conference. I went for a run downtown with one of my closest friends and colleague. She is one of the proudest African-American women I know. She is unafraid and unapologetic. We spent a lot of time discussing race and equity issues at the institution where we both worked, and our mutual experiences after attending the same graduate school. While running, a White, homeless man yelled the n-word at her as we passed by him. I distinctly recall that moment. We both said nothing to the man, nor did we speak for the next block. I remember she stopped. I stopped. She said, “I think that’s an all-time low.” I stood there listening. I waited. She teared up. I hugged her. She got angry. I listened as she shared what it meant to her to have that happen. After some time passed, I apologized for also freezing in the moment. I could have said something and didn’t. I granted passive acceptance. It was a say-do gap moment for me. It wasn’t her responsibility to address that behavior in the moment. I had more privilege in that space. I should have been the one to say something.

We all experience say-do gaps. Those moments don’t necessarily define your character. However, what you do next when you realize their existence – that’s a different story. Freeze is a natural response to stress or conflict. We can strengthen our ability to show up differently in similar circumstances by spending time thinking about what we could/should say in those moments. Sitting down and thinking through the last week, tracking moments when you found yourself in a space where you let something “slide”, and considering how you might handle that differently. You see people are watching you. Those for whom you want to be an ally need to see your consistency. When you’re silent it speaks volumes.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, welcome to what it feels like to be “awoken” to the issues that students from marginalized backgrounds feel, often every day, likely on your campus. With Halloween right around the corner, there will likely be opportunities for you to put these concepts into practice. Don’t wait for an incident to happen on your campus for you to move to action. Be ready. Remember, we are all works in progress.

Learn more about Suzette Walden Cole and her programs at campuspeak.com/walden-cole.

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Overcoming Adversity: From Foster Care to Yale http://www.campuspeak.com/fostertoyale/ http://www.campuspeak.com/fostertoyale/#respond Tue, 17 Oct 2017 16:12:13 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26284 Trigger warning: This article includes some of the speaker’s life experiences that are graphic and violent in nature. By: Rodney Walker, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker As a former ward of the State of Illinois, I am privileged to be where I am today. Of the nearly 400,000 youth in foster care, less than a quarter will go on […]

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Trigger warning: This article includes some of the speaker’s life experiences that are graphic and violent in nature.

By: Rodney Walker, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker

As a former ward of the State of Illinois, I am privileged to be where I am today. Of the nearly 400,000 youth in foster care, less than a quarter will go on to obtain a bachelor’s degree, and less than 5 percent will go on to earn an advanced degree. Half of all foster care youth will be incarcerated before the age of 25 and experience homelessness, unemployment, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or some form of undiagnosed clinical depression. So for any of us to find the audacity to get over the fact that our mother left us in the hospital and our relatives did not want to keep us, or our mother beat us because we grew up to look just like our father and hated our father because we were the product of his raping her, or that she somehow thought it was acceptable to send us back to school the next day after having beat us with her bare hands, it takes a hell of an attitude for us to say after all of that, “I can still be something, I can still defy the odds, and I understand my parents and love me anyway.”

Not all stories are the same, but our adversity is unmatched. When you have been disconnected from your roots and asked to grow in a different kind of soil that does not fertilize you and find a way to grow anyway, that is the definition of courage.

In my case, I am the product of a mother born and raised in Chicago’s Cabrini Green housing projects; a mother who was herself born to a 13-year-old single mother who was not ready to have children and was neglectful; a mother who met her father for the first time at 12, and was raped and abused by him shortly thereafter; a mother who lost her younger brother to two shots to the head with a sawed-off shotgun, one of the most brutal gang homicides in Cabrini’s history; a mother who followed her mother’s example and became pregnant at 12, at a time in her life when she literally did not know what the word “pregnancy” meant. A mother who understandably suffered from clinically undiagnosed depression and PTSD and became a cocaine addict as a result.

I am also the product of a father whose mother migrated to Chicago from New Orleans to escape an abusive marriage and settled in the Harold Ickies public housing projects; a father who ran the streets after his mother left for work in the evening as a bartender and as a result was consumed by the streets and eventually dropped out of high school; a father who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1968, went to Vietnam, and came home with an aggressive heroin addiction to cope with his PTSD; and ultimately, a father who could not keep a job and was eventually consumed by the streets once again, getting involved in petty criminal activity and locked up for selling drugs on school grounds.

This was my blueprint. I came into the system at five years old and bounced around between relatives before eventually being placed in the foster homes of nonrelatives. I will spare you the horror stories of my experiences in abusive foster homes, with foster parents thirsty to control a black, hypermasculine teenaged boy with behavioral issues, not because they were passionate about steering me in the right direction but because the money they received was too much to lose. I will save you the countless stories of breakdowns and episodes of depression that I experienced from knowing that I had nine other siblings with whom I did not have the privilege of growing up. I will not attempt to explain why my education was the least of my priorities given all of this instability in my life. What I will say is that my story was, and still is, the status quo, which should scare all of us. I will avoid overwhelming you with the complexities of an inner-city at-risk ward of the state, but briefly, share how the urban education system contributed to my life experiences. Ultimately, my adversity became my greatest asset.

Among the many perplexities of my urban public education experience, there were four key ways that the system was beneficial to my growth and development. These factors—while not the only ingredients to make up the entirety of my early childhood experiences—were the most vital to my success.

First, school was my safe ground. Given that I was never in any particular foster home long enough to be consumed by the streets, school was where I found the most stability. My peers were there, the atmosphere was clean and well managed by staff and security, and there were always teachers present to lend me advice and give me coaching if I needed it. Along with being in a dozen foster homes, I also attended ten neighborhood public elementary schools, and in each school, I remember growing accustomed to adopting that space as my own. I would stay after hours as long as possible and join many extracurricular activities. After returning home, I usually prepared for bed by 7:30 p.m., which was usually within 15 minutes of returning from school. I would bury my head in my covers and sleep the entire night away until daybreak. By 6:00 a.m., I was awake and getting ready to leave the house so that I could be at the school when its doors opened at 6:45 a.m. For me, being in foster homes was a terrible reminder of the hell in which my birth parents left me to live the remainder of my childhood. I ran away from that inevitable reality by living at school, thus creating my own safe haven.

Second, foster care insulated me from more negative influences. Despite having negative feelings about the role of social services in my life, there was one advantage to having caretakers regulated by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS): they did not allow me much freedom to get into trouble outside of the home. My curfews were strictly enforced by my caretakers, and my time was consumed by extracurricular activities at schools and community centers. These activities were often sponsored by DCFS, and my evaluations from social workers were an indicator of how effective those extra programs were in keeping me preoccupied and proactive.

Third, my experience in entrepreneurship education was critical to my learning and development. By the time I had been exposed to the world of gangs, drugs, and poverty on Chicago’s South Side, I had already been educated well enough to understand the repercussions of engaging in such a negative lifestyle. But while foster care instilled a sense of ethics and caution, it did not alleviate the burden of hopelessness and pessimism that I felt whenever I would reflect on my life up until that moment and realize that I had not done enough to put myself in a position to be successful. This is where entrepreneurship was most effective. As an elective course in high school, I was taught how to create my own income through a business class. The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), an organization that taught young people how to start and run a small business, gave me the tools and mentorship necessary to create a sustainable enterprise while I still had the luxury of being in school and financially supported by parents. After exploring my individual talents and strengths, I decided to start a video production business. Within a few months, after receiving financial support from NFTE and mentors, I was making enough money to help my parents pay for food and rent. This sense of economic empowerment gave me a deeper sense of internal motivation and drive, and I used this momentum as leverage to explore other ways I could grow and succeed.

Fourth, social-emotional guidance counseling and mentorship helped me forgive. Entrepreneurship was the starting point to my growth and development, but it was not what sustained me. While I was earning an income, there were still social-emotional barriers that were unaddressed. The motivation that I felt from starting a successful business was constantly challenged by the hopelessness that I felt from knowing I had nine other siblings with whom I had no relationship, a mother and father who were still drug dependent, and a community where some of my closest friends were losing their lives to gun violence. Entrepreneurship answered the question: “What will you do and how will you do it?” But it did not answer the more life-defining question: “Why does this matter to you?”

Ultimately, a lifelong mentor was vital for me to answer that question. I needed a social worker who possessed the ability to take me on a journey through my life experience and help me to deal with those social systemic and social-emotional elements. I found this person in my senior year of high school. He was the new dean of my high school that year, and he sought to prove to educators that kids cannot learn and grow if they have unaddressed posttraumatic stress. I was fortunate to participate in his mentorship program, where he helped break the mold on all the trauma I had been holding on to in my life. Once I was able to heal and recover, I was able to approach my struggles in a positive and proactive way, and in doing so, I was able to embrace my pain as the greatest motivation for my life’s journey.

It is uncertain whether our nation’s public education system will be able to go this extra mile for disconnected youth such as myself. While my life experiences may seem abnormal, I suggest that they are synonymous with the life experiences of over half of at-risk inner-city youth across our nation. While I know that everyone means well, it is unfortunate to see many school districts do the same thing every year expecting a different result. I believe that to address the fundamental problems of our inner-city communities, we need a radical reform of our education system—not fixing what is broken, but instead shattering what is broken and creating an entirely new system.

To learn more about Rodney Walker and his programs, visit campuspeak.com/walker.

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Combating a Culture of Silence http://www.campuspeak.com/cultureofsilence/ Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:52:39 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26280 By: Lorin Phillips, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker There is nothing scarier to me than an organization where their members feel silenced. The leaders stand in front of the room during a meeting, share decisions made by leaders, tell the group what is happening next, and there is a quiet, emotionless head nod. Then on to the next […]

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By: Lorin Phillips, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker

There is nothing scarier to me than an organization where their members feel silenced. The leaders stand in front of the room during a meeting, share decisions made by leaders, tell the group what is happening next, and there is a quiet, emotionless head nod. Then on to the next topic. The meeting concludes in 30 minutes or so without a single question or discussion beyond perhaps repeating the time or location. Some time passes and then the after-meeting discussion starts to happen. Often it starts in smaller friend groups and eventually someone is fired up enough or has enough support of close friends to make a declaration in GroupMe. Rapid fire opinions follow; screenshots are taken and sent on to officers or advisors, and the officer GroupMe begins to blow up with various forms of “Why didn’t someone say something? We just talked about it at the meeting.” Then enters the dialog around respect. The next meeting a direct statement is made to the group about needing to speak up and ask questions…how are they (the officers) to know something is wrong if people don’t speak up? Someone rolls their eyes in the back row signaling the obvious irony just observed. Why would I speak up and say something if this is the response? The cycle of silence begins again.

If none of that sounds familiar, you have a group culture that encourages and welcomes healthy conflict. Be proud of that environment and continue to encourage caring and constructive disagreement. If it sounds all too familiar, here are four critical components to help you evaluate and problem-solve.

Start with Why. Every group dynamic can be a little different.  Taking time to think critically about ‘why’ before identifying solutions is important. Asking ‘why’ helps us get to the root of the issue. An example reflection might look like:

  • Why aren’t people aren’t speaking up? Because we rarely vote or discuss anything except officer elections.
  • Why aren’t you voting on more and discussing what goes on your calendar? Because the last time we did that we had a group of negative people who would put the ideas of younger members down. It created a lot of drama.
  • Why are people allowed to talk like that to others in a meeting? Because no one has talked with them about the concerns.
  • Why has no one talked with them and asked them? I don’t know.

When you get to a point that you don’t know why anymore, you may have found your starting point for some brainstorming ideas.

Move to How and Who. How can we talk with people who are discouraging discussion? Who will have that conversation?

  • When you talk with them, listen more than you tell. Start with an opening statement and ask them why. We’ve noticed the chapter isn’t talking with each other in chapter meetings and instead is having discussions and disagreements electronically. Why do you think that is happening? Give them space to explore the ‘whys’ too. This isn’t a confrontation but rather an opportunity to explore the issue with someone who might have another perspective. If there is an opportunity for individuals to own their contributions to the problem, take it!
  • Ask them about the how and who. How can we begin encouraging discussion? Who should we count on to be good role modules of healthy chapter meeting discussion? Who or what do we think might be a barrier to change? How can we get them on board?

Find the bright spots. It is easy to get stuck in the negative complaining pieces around an issue and never get to solutions. To move from complaining to problem-solving, think about the bright spots. Think of a highpoint around the issue.  What was a time when there was healthy disagreement or constructive sharing of ideas and differing viewpoints? What traits, circumstances, and attributes made that possible?

Determine what is next. What did we learn from the bright spot that we can apply here? Think about expectations, education, and ways to engage members in meeting new expectations.

  • What expectations need to be set to ensure a safe place for differing opinions? What expectations need to be set about places where not okay to express differing opinions? If there is a particular environment where the issue is occurring (chapter meetings, GroupMe, private Facebook group), what expectations do you need about how and when you use that form of communication?
  • What skills are needed for members to feel more confident to have these discussions? What education do we need to provide the chapter around the expectations?
  • What happens when someone doesn’t meet those expectations? How will you enforce the new expectations?
  • What happens when someone DOES meet those expectations? How will you reinforce the behaviors you wanted to do?

Top of Mind. What can you do to keep the new expectations and changes at the top of everyone’s minds? It takes 30 days to form a new habit. This will be a new habit for your organization. Maybe it is a fun catchphrase that begins part of your lingo.

  • We don’t need to agree, but we do need to understand.
  • Get comfortable with the uncomfortable. It means we are learning, changing, and growing.

Perhaps it is taking the time to share stories at the end of a meeting highlighting when people were meeting the new expectation(s). Catch people doing it right. Praise the progress instead of waiting for things to be perfect before giving recognition. Change, even small change, is change. Celebrate it!

 

To learn more about Lorin Phillips and her programs, visit campuspeak.com/phillips

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Circles of Grace: Taking Diversity from Head to HEART http://www.campuspeak.com/circlesofgrace/ Tue, 17 Oct 2017 15:22:17 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26272 By: Justin Jones-Fosu, Speaker Have you ever wondered how one event can happen and yet so many people see it from so many different perspectives? I remember about three years ago I was perplexed by an event, and I saw people on social media taking a whole different perspective. I couldn’t accept the “let’s agree […]

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By: Justin Jones-Fosu, Speaker

Have you ever wondered how one event can happen and yet so many people see it from so many different perspectives? I remember about three years ago I was perplexed by an event, and I saw people on social media taking a whole different perspective. I couldn’t accept the “let’s agree to disagree” moniker. I really had to know WHY I saw it the way I did and WHY they saw it the way they did. I began researching and what I uncovered is that we perceive people and events in a society based on WHO is in our “circles of grace.” The closer to the center they are, the more grace, benefit of the doubt, and patience they receive. We tend to give ourselves (1st circle) the most grace. We then give family and friends (2nd circle) grace. Following that, we then give grace to people like us or people like someone you love (3rd circle). If they are in the “everyone else,” category they are outside the circles of grace and they are given (1) little to grace, (2) no benefit of the doubt, and (3) are guilty until proven innocent. Understanding your circles of grace could really impact what you support and don’t support.

Circles of Grace

We tend to lump people into categories (many times not maliciously) because our brains are wired to do it. Have you ever been driving or walking in a direction and you were supposed to go one way, but you went the way you always go instead? (This is embarrassingly true for me.) It’s because your brain moves to auto-pilot lumping when it assumes it knows something, and that, my friends is how we can see an object, person, or symbol and automatically assign meaning and understanding to it without fully knowing it. Many times we do this without our even realizing it is happening. It takes extra diligence and intentionality to combat this and really learn about the event and person from FIRST-HAND information/experience and to try our best to understand all perspectives. This is not about always forging an agreement and believing the same things as others, but about agreeing to see the humanity in others even if we disagree.

I am ashamed at who my EVERYONE ELSE has been throughout the years, but I have made strides to “enlarge my circle” to develop meaningful relationships and gain exposure to people and groups who have been carelessly lumped together. WHO IS YOUR EVERYONE ELSE? I encourage you to take the #6monthchallenge. This challenge is one where I challenge myself to go do something, to learn something, or talk with someone whom I either disagree with or don’t know a lot about. This is a humbling experience, but very helpful. While I don’t always walk away agreeing, and sometimes I have maintained my same position, this exercise has allowed me to see their HUMANITY! My friend, we need this more than ever right now. Will you enlarge your circles of grace and challenge your view of people and events in the society? We can do this together!

TO GO DEEPER: Watch the short video for a more in-depth understanding of the Circles of Grace and identify who is in your circles and who could be.  It just might help you to become a better leader, better member, and a better human!

Justin Jones-Fosu has great leadership strategies embedded in his keynote. Whether you are looking for leadership, diversity, or purpose driven inspiration, check out Justin and his ability to intersect amazing energy and practical content. Trust me, look at one of his videos!!!

Check out one of Justin’s most requested Keynote “Hug an Elephant, Kiss a Giraffe: Embracing EVERYDAY Diversity” and see why Justin is helping move the conversation from head to heart.  Justin’s engaging yet relevant style is one reason he was named as a “HOT ACT” in 2015 by Campus Activities Magazine.

To learn more about Justin, please visit campuspeak.com/jones-fosu

 

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Calling All Future Leaders http://www.campuspeak.com/futureleaders/ Thu, 05 Oct 2017 12:45:24 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26131 By: Tom Healy, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker 4 Key Reasons Why You Should be a Leader in Your Greek Community A few years ago (okay, more than a few) I had the awesome responsibility of being the IFC President at Ohio University.  As we approach November, your community is getting ready to elect a new group of […]

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By: Tom Healy, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker

4 Key Reasons Why You Should be a Leader in Your Greek Community

A few years ago (okay, more than a few) I had the awesome responsibility of being the IFC President at Ohio University.  As we approach November, your community is getting ready to elect a new group of leaders to set the direction for the Greek Community on your campus – I believe you should strongly consider running for one of those leadership positions.  Here is what I learned from this valuable experience and how it served me well moving forward:

  • Exposure to Diversity:  I wouldn’t classify my college experience prior to joining IFC as involving much diversity in terms of the people I surrounded myself with; this wasn’t by choice but simply the realities of how we all typically gravitate to those that are similar to us.  Because I was IFC President I met a lot of people, interacted with Presidents of other student organizations and attended way more campus events.  All of this collectively exposed me to diverse people by every measure possible and gave me such a better perspective of our entire campus community, as opposed to just my little bubble of friendships.  I believe this has served me well in life because I can understand a wide range of viewpoints, challenges, attitudes, and behaviors, as opposed to only those that are very similar to me.  As an adult, you are far better off understanding a variety of perspectives as opposed to only those that view the world the exact same way you do – understanding people from all walks of life, rather than just your own, will serve you incredibly well as a leader.
  • Leading a Variety of Organizations:  Being a leader within one organization is far less complicated in a lot of ways than leading an entire community full of different organizations that oftentimes have competing interests, values, missions, visions and overall ways of conducting themselves.  When you are leading a community-wide council, you must have a grasp on every organization and really understand the “big picture” rather than just trying to advance one specific organization.  This experience in college continually helps me in my business now because I have a stronger awareness of how a variety of organizations function within an industry and am able to create “win-win” scenarios, as opposed to being narrow-minded and only understand how my business functions.
  • Building Consensus:  Trying to build consensus among people or organizations with differing views can be incredibly challenging – fortunately, I had to do it every week for two years on IFC so I had plenty of practice!  Learning how to find common ground, build bridges and have a variety of people/organizations coalesce around a common path forward is an incredible skill to possess and I feel fortunate to have gained that experience being on IFC.  It is something I pride myself on as being one of my strengths and I am constantly looking for opportunities to bring people together and rally them around a common vision.
  • New Friendships:  I have no problem admitting that I was just like most fraternity guys waving the “our chapter is better than yours” flag and thinking “all the guys in XYZ fraternity are losers”.  A funny thing happened when I joined IFC – I realized that our chapter members were very similar to members of other chapters on campus.  Some of my best friends in college came out of relationships formed from our IFC executive council and I’ve maintained them for over a decade since we graduated.  Trust me, I got a lot of “how the hell can you be friends with that guy from XYZ chapter?” from my brothers but it was well worth it to develop these great new friendships and gain an understanding of just how petty these little rivalries were in our community!
Are you looking for a great way to further develop the current and future leaders in your community?  Would you like to train your leaders and have each of them develop a customized Personal Leadership Plan?  Click HERE to learn more about “Limitless Leadership”, an interactive workshop that uses a scientifically-validated behavioral assessment to help student leaders learn how they are hard-wired as a leader and then set specific actions for how they will thrive in their new role.

 

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Why Your Feelings Have Everything to Do With Changing the World http://www.campuspeak.com/whyyourfeelings/ http://www.campuspeak.com/whyyourfeelings/#respond Tue, 03 Oct 2017 16:20:19 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26113 “It’s all Just Too Much.”   My girlfriend and I had just hopped on FaceTime to catch up. At first glance, I knew something was wrong.   “Hey. You ok? What happened?” I asked, my voice quickening as I watched her fingers anxiously tap the sides of her face.   As she gave a big […]

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“It’s all Just Too Much.”

 

My girlfriend and I had just hopped on FaceTime to catch up. At first glance, I knew something was wrong.

 

“Hey. You ok? What happened?” I asked, my voice quickening as I watched her fingers anxiously tap the sides of her face.

 

As she gave a big sigh, my heart beat faster, now seriously worried.

 

“It’s North Korea.” Wait. What? I thought. “…and Florida, and Houston. It’s the earthquake and the landslides. All of it.”

 

I stared at my girlfriend for a long hard second, trying to discern if she was serious and if more was coming.

 

“It’s all just too much. All of it.”

 

Looking up finally, she glanced at me, surprised, asking

 

“Why are you staring at me like that? Don’t you agree?”

 

I exhaled. Realizing she was ok, I responded back,

 

“Of course. I agree. I’m surprised you feel that way.” I’d been wrestling for the past few weeks under the weight of all the recent events, and often felt alone in my musings. It felt good….comfortable….to know someone else was struggling with the same.

 

For the next hour, we unpacked our worries and feelings about the events happening around us. We lamented over the those who’d lost their homes in Texas and Florida. We cried over images from the hurricane damage in USVI and Puerto Rico, the earthquake in Mexico, and the flooding in parts of Sierra Leone and Nigeria. We expressed our outrage and fatigued hope in the aftermath of Charlottesville and the continuing dialogue on race in our country. After we finished, we exhaled—collectively settling the flurry of emotions we’d just unearthed.

 

I stared at her again in the screen of my iPhone. Though I’ve known her for years, I suddenly felt closer to her. For once, I felt connected to her, not just as my friend, but as my fellow sojourner in all the hard events happening before us. There was power in allowing ourselves to share in that collective pain—letting that pain touch us, inform us, and unite us.

 

Many of you know this power. You’ve grieved. Donated. Corralled people to help. You touched the pain of others and let it move you to benevolent action. That is true power, my friends. When we allow ourselves to be impacted by the emotions of others, it has the potential to be a force for good for others. When we choose to really see each other, we are better able to show up for each other in ways that truly change the world. But there are many who have not experienced the power of this collective experience. Not because they are unwilling, but because it is overwhelming.

 

With all our technology and media, we can’t avoid what’s happening in the world— as well as sometimes, be knocked right out by it. We gingerly try to dance around the conversation of it all. Yet, the weight finds you and sticks to you, unable to undo its grasp on you. Grief, loss, confusion, outrage are all some of the emotions from the past few weeks. But they’re also uncomfortable…and as humans, we run from uncomfortable things.

 

“Get Comfortable, Being Uncomfortable.”

 

The irony of life is that it is the uncomfortable that has both the power to take us out and push us forward.

 

It reminds me of a recent family trip to the beach. My son had insisted on bringing their sand bucket and pail into the water to “wash it off.” Before we knew it, one good strong wave swept the bucket from my son’s hands. I tried to catch it amidst the sandy water, but it slipped through my fingers. As we walked back to shore, adjacent to us on the shore line, was the bucket. It had been swept back onto the beach by the next wave, after being plunged into the ocean.

 

Our uncomfortable feelings do the same. They have the power like the ocean’s waves to sweep us off our feet, disorienting us for a minute. But, when we choose to ride out the wave, we see it pushes us further along the beach. Perhaps further than we could have ever walked ourselves. In my profession, I get many responses regarding my work around emotions and human connection, including comments like:

 

“Emotions- that’s small stuff.”

 

“Ahh, emotions. Just get over it.”

 

“We don’t have time to feel right now. We have to work, then cry later.”

 

A man once told me that he viewed “softer” concepts like emotions, connection, and empathy like the annoying packaging material that comes in a box, preventing you from reaching the “real” gift that’s inside. I think many people feel that way—that emotions are these cumbersome, unnecessary things we experience with no purpose. But every time I hear this, I am still amazed because my experience and work prove the opposite.

 

What I know to be true, is this: Our feelings help us see each other, connect deeper, and grow closer. These are the things that are needed and carry significant meaning. These are the things that will help us rebuild after everything we’ve experienced recently. Rebuilding Houston, US VI, and the Keys only happens when we first connect around the loss, fear, and grief from that shared experience. The way we have effective yet hard conversations about race and discrimination is by connecting over honest feelings about what we do and don’t know.

Our emotions- our ability to connect- is the gift. It is our prized possession, the thing that we should all be striving to grasp and understand, and use for the good of others.

 

Brave the wilderness with over 20 million college students on campuses around the nation, there’s ample opportunity to practice really seeing each other. But will you choose it? Will you lean into the discomfort of someone’s uncomfortable experience or the discomfort of facing the realities of your own? True leadership is being the catalyst to create space for others to be vulnerable, and show their most authentic self.

 

In one of my recent online classes, I was teaching participants about a concept I’ve coined called heartwork—which is the process of facing and conquering our most difficult life emotions, so we can be free to live out our purpose within. We cannot effectively do the work of seeing each other and creating space for each other unless we have first done our own heartwork. When we can navigate the dark, tight, uncomfortable spaces of our experiences, it gives us the dexterity to help others face theirs, and really show up for and belong to one another.

 

In her recent book, Braving the Wilderness, Dr. Brene Brown describes the concept of true belonging as a wilderness that can only be conquered when we first learn to first belong to ourselves. It’s in doing so that we create space for others. Honoring the gift of our emotions is not just doggedly embracing those of others; it is first embracing the emotions in ourselves- facing the rejection, anxiety, insecurity, and pain that we individually feel. Because it’s when we feel our own emotions— when we brave our own wilderness- that we can feel for others and help them brave theirs.

 

So, my friend, at the beginning of this was right. There is a lot going on. It can all feel too much. But when do our work to face our own pain, get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and brave our wilderness, we experience the power of the collective and the daunting truth of our human connection. It’s through this connection that we create truly safe spaces on our campuses, not just for people’s political or ideological opinions, but for their hearts to show up, untethered, honest, and unafraid. That is braving your wilderness. That is heartwork. That is changing the world.

 

Learn more about Dr. Leslie Nwoke and her keynotes at campuspeak.com/nwoke.

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Overcoming Tragedy: 4 Steps for Healing http://www.campuspeak.com/overcomingtragedy/ http://www.campuspeak.com/overcomingtragedy/#respond Tue, 03 Oct 2017 15:48:39 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26108 By: Brittany Piper, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker October 2, 2017. Las Vegas. Life is bleak sometimes. More often, lately. For many of us, these near monthly tragedies open old wounds of violence, terror, and loss. The harsh truth is we’re all recovering and healing from something. Whether directly affected by a tragedy, or reeling from its powerful […]

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By: Brittany Piper, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker
October 2, 2017. Las Vegas.

Life is bleak sometimes. More often, lately. For many of us, these near monthly tragedies open old wounds of violence, terror, and loss. The harsh truth is we’re all recovering and healing from something.

Whether directly affected by a tragedy, or reeling from its powerful tremors, we must remind ourselves that it’s the reactions to these earth-shattering events in our lives that define us, not the events themselves. As we move forward in recovery, self-care has to be priority number one.

 

  1. Feel – On days like this I am emotional, as my gleaming optimism often takes a seat to catch its breath. My heart is sorrowful for the state of this country. Today I feel the hurt. I feel it because I have to. I feel it because my life’s history has shown me that every long road to healthy healing must first begin with felt understanding.The trick—don’t get stuck there. I know it’s hard to take the cold plunge of vulnerability. I also know it’s almost easier to let ourselves sink so deep into our grief and turmoil that we become trapped beneath the ice. We cannot spiral into a permanent dark hole when the world is heavy and the heavy just gets thicker. We cannot become so consumed by our brokenness, so committed to it, that to heal it would erase who we’ve become.

    So how do we accomplish this? We embrace the vulnerability by wrapping ourselves up in a blanket of our feelings, but we never let it become our emotional straightjacket. Because eventually, we release it. By screaming into a pillow, screaming into the sky, screaming into our journals, screaming out to anyone who’s willing to listen. We acknowledge the emotions and then we let them go because if we don’t they’ll make us hard. And on the path to healing, we must remain courageously soft.

  2. Set Boundaries – Self-care is a combination of the nurturing routines, conversations, and relationships we have with US. It’s the capacity to love, accept, connect and care for ourselves, from the inside out, in spite of the traumas and stresses in our lives. It’s about leaning into our life, moment to moment, with trust and appreciation.Self-care does not include conversations, relationships, and routines with the Internet, with the news, with social media. Self-care means unplugging from the noise around us. Self-care means muting the world so we can hear ourselves more clearly, as the empty silence is full of introspective answers. So switch to airplane mode. Become more selective of who and what you’re giving yourself to.
  3. Align – Healing is a lifelong journey, filled with heart-warming reprieve and tender scars. Those of us on the healing-side realize that our lives will never be the same. Like a crumpled piece of paper, the creases will always be present. It took me many, many years to understand that the path to healing is not about getting over X, Y and Z but rather aligning with their existence. We align by accepting and acknowledging the presence of their scars for a lifetime to come. For these scars are evidence of our strength to prevail.
  4. Nurture – Nurture you. Take tender care of your mind, body, and spirit. Give yourself love today so tomorrow you can give it to others. How?

 

  1. Get outside
  2. Journal
  3. Take a bath
  4. Pray
  5. Meditate
  6. Read a book
  7. Go on a walk, hike, bike ride, etc.
  8. Eat healthy
  9. Stretch
  10. Do yoga
  11. Make love
  12. Make out
  13. Mindfulness/stay in the present
  14. Practice breathing exercises
  15. Workout
  16. Cook yourself a nice meal
  17. Buy yourself a nice meal
  18. Take a nap
  19. Write an affirmation list
  20. Write a gratitude list
  21. Watch a sunrise
  22. Watch a sunset
  23. Smile
  24. Watch a comedy
  25. Make a vision board
  26. Travel

When the dark days of our lives take over, the job is ours to shine as our own beacon of light. It’s our responsibility to bring ourselves safely home after the storms have passed—to a place where we honor our past experiences by living from an aligned and nurturing space. The healing ladder of the universe is long and aims toward self-care. Only in this place can we find the love to propel us forward.

Learn more about Brittany Piper and her impactful keynotes at campuspeak.com/brittany.

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Permission to Screw Up http://www.campuspeak.com/permissiontoscrewup/ Tue, 03 Oct 2017 14:28:41 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26104 “Having a young leader like Kristen Hadeed in the world gives me hope for the future. In a world in which numbers often seem more important than people, Kristen remains steadfast in her belief that her people are always her priority.” —Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last   Kristen Hadeed […]

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Hadeed_Press_Photo2

“Having a young leader like Kristen Hadeed in the world gives me hope for the future. In a world in which numbers often seem more important than people, Kristen remains steadfast in her belief that her people are always her priority.”

—Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last

 

Kristen Hadeed unintentionally launched Student Maid, a cleaning company that hires students, while attending the University of Florida in 2007. Since then it has grown to employ hundreds of people and is widely recognized for its industry-leading retention rate and its culture of trust, responsibility, and compassion. But Kristen and her company were no overnight sensations. In fact, they were almost nothing at all.

A few months into her new venture, disaster struck when 75 percent of her cleaning team quit on the same day. Reclining in a comfy armchair, Caesar salad in hand, Kristen watched in shock as forty-five grimy, sweaty employees marched up to her and resigned on the spot. Her company was about to crash and burn, with an unfulfilled contract to clean hundreds of apartments. What had she done wrong? How could she get her team back? And how could she keep this from happening ever again?

The mistakes leading to that mass walkout weren’t Kristen’s first and definitely wouldn’t be her last. But that humiliating experience sparked her obsession with learning how to be a better leader and inspired her to make Student Maid a place her people couldn’t imagine leaving.

This is the story of how Kristen built a company where people are happy, loyal, productive, and empowered, even while they’re mopping floors and scrubbing toilets. It’s the story of how she went from being an almost comically inept leader to a sought-after CEO who teaches others how to lead. Along the way, Kristen got it wrong almost as often as she got it right. Giving out hugs instead of feedback, fixing errors instead of enforcing accountability, and hosting parties instead of cultivating meaningful relationships were just a few of her many mistakes. But it was Kristen’s willingness to admit those mistakes and learn from them that helped her become a leader who gives her people the chance to learn from their screwups too.

Permission to Screw Up dismisses the idea that leaders and organizations must always be perfect. Through a brutally honest and often hilarious account of her own struggles, Kristen encourages us to embrace our failures and offers proof that we’ll be better leaders when we do.

Order Kristen’s Book Here

Learn more about Kristen and her keynotes

Kristen Hadeed is the founder and CEO of Student Maid, a cleaning company that hires students. She spends much of her time helping organizations across the country improve their own workplace cultures. This is her first book. She lives in Gainesville, Florida.

www.kristenhadeed.com

 

 

 

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Why We Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month http://www.campuspeak.com/whywecelebrate/ Thu, 21 Sep 2017 15:01:08 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26057 By: Saul Flores, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker Why We Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month From our sandy shores to our brightly colored homes, our heritage is rooted in a diaspora of cultures that are spread across Latin America. We celebrate Hispanic Heritage month to encourage students to remember where they came from, where they are, and where they will […]

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By: Saul Flores, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker

Why We Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

From our sandy shores to our brightly colored homes, our heritage is rooted in a diaspora of cultures that are spread across Latin America. We celebrate Hispanic Heritage month to encourage students to remember where they came from, where they are, and where they will go. We look into our past to understand our future, and to discover the great potential we have as students from immigrant backgrounds.

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Where we’re from.

Latin America is a kaleidoscope of 21 countries, with hundreds of cultures and influences from around the world. Our diverse heritage spans the glistening lakes of Guatemala, the trembling volcanoes of Nicaragua, the highest peaks of Colombia, and the dry deserts of Mexico. In Guatemala, you will find rich and vibrant textiles. In Argentina, you will dance to the rhythms of tango and hear the echoes of ancient folk music. Across every Latin American nation, you will find a unique blend of tradition, community, and pride.

Where we are.

In today’s shifting political climate, it is common to see our Latino, Latina, and Latinx students facing challenges such as fear, uncertainty, and instability. Policy changes continue to contribute added pressures for members of our community who have worked tirelessly for an opportunity. Recent changes to immigration policies are separating families, alienating communities, and affecting students from immigrant backgrounds. These shifts in climate are making it increasingly difficult for students to focus, be confident in their abilities, and remain ambitious toward reaching their dreams.

Where we’ll go.

Despite the challenges, our communities continue to persevere and our students remain more hopeful than ever. Our students celebrate the life of leaders like Dolores Huerta, American labor leader and civil rights activist who advocated for farmworkers rights in California. Our students draw inspiration from figures like Cesar Chavez, whose legacy inspired a civil rights movement for Latin American immigrants in the United States.

Today, and every day, students of immigrant background celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month to remember our past, to discuss where we are, and to help take control of our future.

Learn more about Saul Flores and his programs at campuspeak.com/flores.

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Old Keys Don’t Open New Doors http://www.campuspeak.com/old-keys-dont-open-new-doors/ http://www.campuspeak.com/old-keys-dont-open-new-doors/#respond Tue, 19 Sep 2017 15:05:47 +0000 http://campuspeak.com/?p=1298 By: James Robilotta, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker One of the biggest threats to organizational success are individuals who were part of a system or team when it was working in the past. Reason being, these are the first people to say, “This is the way we have always done it.” AKA, the leadership phrase of death. Sometimes, […]

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By: James Robilotta, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker

One of the biggest threats to organizational success are individuals who were part of a system or team when it was working in the past. Reason being, these are the first people to say, “This is the way we have always done it.” AKA, the leadership phrase of death. Sometimes, the most experienced person in the room can have the most negative impact.

Older members gain a somewhat deserved sense of entitlement in our organizations. They have the most experience, have seen what’s worked and what hasn’t, and therefore have earned the right to be listened to. Being the most experienced person does not automatically make them a leader though. There is a big difference between being a leader and being a resource. Leadership is an action, not a title.

Leaders innovate, they are never stagnant, and sure as heck never say “That’s the way we have always done it.” If it ain’t broke, leaders still seek ways to improve it. A good leader does not change everything; a good leader challenges everything.

Here are a number questions to ask your executive board members, advisors, and/or co-workers as you seek to be more innovative in this upcoming academic year:

  1. What programs have we put on in the past few years that we are no longer excited about? Remember, just because it’s a tradition, doesn’t mean it’s good.
  2. What events do we do more out of a sense of obligation than out of “our organization gets a lot out of this”?
  3. How can we utilize our more experienced members to make sure they feel valued in our organization?
  4. This year, what will we be great at?
  5. Who are the key players that we need investment from to help make sure that happens? (Note: Everyone is not the answer.)
  6. This year, we will waste less time doing what? How?
  7. What is a new way that we are going to make the members of our organization feel like they have a role in its success?
  8. One idea for my organization I’ve always had but was always afraid what others would say about it is… (Hint: this is the year, bring it up, get buy-in, get it done)

I would love to hear your thoughts about this and/or answers to some of these questions so tweet at me, @JamesTRobo, and let’s start the conversation!

 

Learn more about James Robilotta and his student leadership keynotes at campuspeak.com/robilotta.

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Anyone That Truly Cares About Their Organization Has Thought of Quitting http://www.campuspeak.com/quitting/ Tue, 19 Sep 2017 12:08:55 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=26020 By: David Stollman, CAMPUSPEAK President & Speaker Nobody talks about it, but anyone that truly cares about their organization has thought of quitting. It might be a fleeting thought, but it is there. Don’t feel guilty about it. It is a natural part of caring as much as you do. You’re reading this because you’re a […]

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By: David Stollman, CAMPUSPEAK President & Speaker

Nobody talks about it, but anyone that truly cares about their organization has thought of quitting. It might be a fleeting thought, but it is there. Don’t feel guilty about it. It is a natural part of caring as much as you do.

You’re reading this because you’re a leader or want to be one. You care deeply about your organization. You love what it is, almost as much as what you know it could be. You have a vision of how to get there, and you want to make a difference. Members want things to be better but are resistant to change. Change is scary, uncomfortable and risky. It takes strong leaders to shoulder the responsibility and to suffer the frustration and setbacks in order to guide a group through change.

“The pose doesn’t begin until you want to quit.” Huh? Sounded like some Zen, Yogi bullshit to me at first. But, it’s true. We only grow at the edge of our comfort zone. When we are pushed and think we’ve arrived at our limit… we grow. Our muscles, both physical and emotional, don’t grow when we are comfortable.

Leadership is filled with challenges and disappointments. For each success, there are thousands of pain points along the way. Take them with poise and even gratitude – they make you stronger. Expect that friends will let you down. Some will – but, don’t focus on the disappointment. Instead, pay special attention to those that stepped up; especially the ones you never expected would.

When it happens, when you hit that wall… know that you CAN get through it. It is a natural part of leadership. See burnout for what it is. It is just another step toward success.

Burnout. Maybe you’ve felt it before. Surely, you’ll feel it again at some point in your journey. Remember that burnout isn’t caused by how much work you do. It’s caused by how much work you see others not doing. One strategy is to focus on those that will be led. SW, SW, SW. One of the best things I learned about leadership. Some Will. Some Won’t. So What. Work with those that will and don’t focus on those that won’t. They’ll burn you out if you let them. Take energy from those that will work with you to get things done, and let them remind you why your membership matters so much.

Leadership isn’t supposed to be easy. It is supposed to be filled with lots of work, and effort, and stress. What’s great about fraternal organizations is that you have the opportunity to lead, to try, and to fail. And when you do, brothers and sisters who have sworn a sacred oath to you, are there to pick you up, dust you off, and help you start all over again.

Key Take-Aways:

  1. Wanting to quit is natural. It means you really love your organization.
  2. It is OK to get frustrated. Leaders grow at the edge of their comfort zone.
  3. Burnout is caused by seeing others not working. Focus instead on members that want to work.

Learn more about David Stollman at campuspeak.com/stollman.

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3 Things We Can Learn From Students’ Secret Fears http://www.campuspeak.com/secretfears/ Tue, 05 Sep 2017 12:24:29 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=25941 What if you could jump into your students’ minds and see what is preventing them from being the person they aspire to be? For the past few years, I’ve collected thousands (and still collect) thousands of students’ fears as a way to connect and speak specifically to their internal struggles with the hope that it […]

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What if you could jump into your students’ minds and see what is preventing them from being the person they aspire to be?

For the past few years, I’ve collected thousands (and still collect) thousands of students’ fears as a way to connect and speak specifically to their internal struggles with the hope that it will help them move closer to success. Every fear is collected anonymously; typed, analyzed, and then categorized through ATLAS software. Here are three things we can learn from students’ secret fears:

They need to know they’re not alone.
I can’t say it enough. After reading note cards and private messages, too many students think they are alone, not realizing that their peers are experiencing the same thoughts. I still get goosebumps at the silence of a room, filled with hundreds of students, when their fears are read out loud. I’m convinced that part of the silence is due to the students’ realization for the first time that they’re not the only ones dealing with a problem. We need to continually stress that whatever they are experiencing, ten times out of ten, someone else is as well.

Their past is heavily influencing their present.
We often attempt to pile leadership techniques on a shaky 18-year old foundation of self-doubt, confidence issues, and pressure from family and friends. Allowing students to talk about life experiences that shaped them is the first step to rebuilding. Creating safe spaces, small discussion groups, and ways to speak anonymously are all ways in which students can share with their peers their experiences in an open and honest environment. Students will be able to address and own their past; at their own pace. Their vulnerability will help build their future.

They really fear failure.
The #1 word that the ATLAS software pulled from the written responses I have received is the word failure. When the responses are categorized, the top fear category is the fear of failing or not being successful at a whopping 43%. Hands down – our students fear failure. Students aren’t stepping up because they are afraid of what might happen if they fail – they don’t understand the added value when life doesn’t go as planned. We have to highlight and reward students when they take risks, and they don’t end up successful, so they are more comfortable in failing and learning important lessons for growth.

Knowing these three points helps us catch a glimpse into student fears and allows us to help support them. I share with students that fearlessness doesn’t mean skydiving and being reckless – fearlessness is taking that obstacle in between you and your aspirations and taking the next step to overcome it.

Learn more about Darryl Bellamy at campuspeak.com/bellamy.

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The Best Advice About College I Ever Received http://www.campuspeak.com/bestadvice/ Wed, 23 Aug 2017 18:07:16 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=25874 By: Tom Healy, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker The best advice I was ever given about college came just a few days before my freshman year at Ohio University, when someone bluntly said to me “do not let your classes get in the way of your real education.”  The message was clear: for you to thrive personally and professionally, […]

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By: Tom Healy, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker

The best advice I was ever given about college came just a few days before my freshman year at Ohio University, when someone bluntly said to me “do not let your classes get in the way of your real education.”  The message was clear: for you to thrive personally and professionally, it isn’t about what you learn in a textbook or memorize for an exam, it is about your ability to get involved in student organizations, develop critical life skills and ultimately tap into your extraordinary potential as a leader.

I have the unbelievable opportunity of working with student leaders around the country – here is some of my best advice for those who want to take ownership of their college experience and thrive as leaders:

Learn more about Tom Healy and his programs at campuspeak.com/healy.

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Few Talk, Many Affected: Changing the Culture About Men’s Mental Health http://www.campuspeak.com/fewtalk/ Wed, 23 Aug 2017 16:38:59 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=25863 Dr. Kevin Snyder has presented over 1,150 programs in all 50 states and has been with CAMPUSPEAK for over a decade. He’s also a former Dean of Students, an author with a best-selling book, and a professional speaker with a wealth of unique expertise both in Student Affairs and in corporate America. We sat down […]

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Dr. Kevin Snyder has presented over 1,150 programs in all 50 states and has been with CAMPUSPEAK for over a decade. He’s also a former Dean of Students, an author with a best-selling book, and a professional speaker with a wealth of unique expertise both in Student Affairs and in corporate America.

We sat down with Kevin to ask a few questions about his perspective on what makes a great leader, and to learn more about his new 2017 presentation Few Talk, Many Affected: Changing the Culture About Men’s Mental Health – a program designed to change the culture about men’s mental health. Kevin’s nuggets of wisdom below are ideal to share with your student groups and organizational leaders.

Question: Reading your bio, you have an interesting background. How did you get started in Student Affairs?

Kevin:  As a new student in college, I struggled. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was depressed, anxious, and miserable. I tried dropping out on numerous occasions, but someone always stepped in to convince me to not to – usually, my RA or the Dean of Students because he had to sign my withdrawal paperwork. During my second year, I decided to give college one final shot at getting outside my comfort zone and more involved on campus. Becoming more engaged changed everything. I went from near drop out to Homecoming King and Greek Man of the Year. Although I graduated with a degree in Marine Biology, I knew I wanted to work on a college campus so I could help and support other students like people did for me. That’s why I’ve been a Director of Student Activities, Orientation Coordinator, Academic Advisor, and most recently a Dean of Students.

Question: Why did you develop your new program, Few Talk, Many Affected: Changing the Culture About Men’s Mental Health?

Kevin: For a couple of reasons.  First, #1, because I was surprised no one was talking about mental health for men specifically. If we don’t talk about issues affecting men, the statistics will only get worse. Yet the social stigmas are targeted against men. So as a speaker, I view my role as a facilitator for to have this extremely important conversation but in a positive, empowering tone. Secondly, #2, I wanted those in my audience not to feel alone like I did when I was in college. Once I realized others around me were quietly battling similar issues, it helped me realize I wasn’t alone. I’m alive today because of the support I received from others. Third, #3, nothing will change in life unless we do. We all have a role and purpose in life, and it’s up to us to identify what that is. For me, at least right now, my purpose is to be a catalyst that inspires positive change. This new program for men accomplishes that.

Question: Why do you think men will benefit from your presentation?

Kevin: Because this program might be the first time they have a conversation about it. This might be the first time they feel safe or comfortable to address their authentic self. Listen, 73% of the average person’s thoughts on a daily basis are negative. When I first read this statistic, it shocked me. Once I became more aware of my own internal thoughts – my mindset – and how I could reprogram my mind to deal with those issues and focus on the positive, my entire life changed. I still have moments, like anyone, but I know where to place focus. The benefit from this presentation will be sharing with men how to become more aware, so they know how to help themselves and others.

Question: In your program for men, what are some of the issues you address?

Kevin: I designed the presentation to be uplifting, interactive … even entertaining. I’m not the type of speaker who can present without laughter and audience engagement. This is especially important with the topics I’m covering in this presentation including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sexual and substance abuse, eating disorders, and suicide. I’ll address the signs and symptoms of these issues, but more importantly, how others can seek help and treatment. More people suffer from these issues than heart disease and cancer combined.

Question: Generally speaking, do you have a favorite type of audience when you speak?

Kevin: Oh gosh. Well, as I said before, each audience is unique, but my speaking roots are with college students. So if you twisted my arm for an answer, it’s definitely college student audiences. I love speaking at fraternity and sorority events like Greek Weeks, leadership activities, and new member events. I also love presenting campus-based keynotes with new students during orientation or for student leadership conferences. I designed three different keynotes in order to have a powerful program for each unique collegiate audience: (1) Leadership DNA, (2) Proud and Purposeful: The Fraternal Experience and (3) UNSTOPPABLE.

Question: Lastly, if there’s one thing you’d want someone reading this to know about how to achieve their goals and taking their leadership to the next level, what would that be?

Kevin: Just one thing? Well, effective leadership is never about doing just one thing, so that’s difficult to answer. Instead, it’s about doing many things over and over … and doing them well. However, I have found two patterns with people who seem to struggle with achieving goals. Number 1, they either aren’t as clear as they think in regards to what that goal actually is; or number 2, they don’t take consistent action to develop a strategy and work towards that goal. I know that’s more than one thing, but clarity and strategy are crucial to becoming an effective leader as well as leading a team. No one wants to follow someone else who doesn’t know where they are going or how they’re going to get there.

Question: Thanks so much for talking with us.

Kevin: Honored. Thank you!

 

To watch Kevin’s NEW DEMO VIDEO and learn about his CAMPUSPEAK programs for your students, view his website at http://campuspeak.com/speaker/snyder. Connect with him on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or Twitter @KevinCSnyder. Download Kevin’s new leadership app (@KevinCSnyder) and receive a daily motivational quote!

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Back to School: How to Prepare as an LGBTQ+ Student http://www.campuspeak.com/lgbtqschool/ Tue, 22 Aug 2017 16:14:35 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=25839 By: Jeremy Wallace, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker It’s back to school time again, and for many students, time to head to campus! Attending a college or university is exciting, but can also be overwhelming, and the apprehension and nervousness may be even greater for those students who identify as transgender, gender queer or gender non-conforming. The best […]

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By: Jeremy Wallace, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker

It’s back to school time again, and for many students, time to head to campus! Attending a college or university is exciting, but can also be overwhelming, and the apprehension and nervousness may be even greater for those students who identify as transgender, gender queer or gender non-conforming. The best way to alleviate some of the concerns and fears is to be prepared, or as prepared as one can be.

What does that look like? Well, the number one thing to do is ask. Ask as many questions as you can think of and continue to ask different people or departments until you get an answer. Ask before you get to campus, so you will have a heads up and the opportunity to voice your concerns privately. For example, housing is a large concern for students, and transgender students need to know what their living arrangments will be, before arriving on campus. Make sure to ask the college or university for specifics. Are dorms coed? What is the campus policy as it relates to gender specific housing and how do they support transgender students? What policies or procedures are in place if a transgender student needs assistance or feels threatened? Campus housing, especially the dorms/apartments on campus are there to provide a safe living space for all students, and it’s the school’s duty to make sure that it truly applies to ALL students.

Secondly, take time to find the campus LGBTQ+ center or pride group if they have one, and stop in. These groups are equipped and prepared to help LGBTQ+ students’ transition to campus life and will not only be a great resource but also can be the foundation for a wonderful support system. If your college or university doesn’t have a specific campus pride organization, check with the local town the school is located in to see what resources are available to the LGBTQ+ community. Again, they can be a wealth of knowledge for supporting your academic life, and beyond.

Also, for those students who use a name that is different from their legal birth name, be prepared to see that “old” name on official school documents and records. And until you have a chance to talk directly with any faculty, also be prepared for that awkward moment of being called by the ‘wrong” name. The school isn’t trying to hurt you; it’s just a matter of having to use your legal name for record keeping, and they haven’t met you yet. Personally, I hate that policy, but I haven’t figured out a work-around. Now, if you encounter faculty or staff that continues to use your birth name and misgender you, that’s a whole different story, and again where the campus pride group can help you to address that. The reason I bring up the issue of legal names is that for many, seeing and hearing your birth name, and with the expectation that you will acknowledge and respond to that name, is a trigger and can cause mental and emotional distress. Until I legally changed my name, being called by my birth (female) name was a source of anxiety and embarrassment, and reinforced my body/gender dysphoria. If it helps, practice what you might say or do when those moments occur, and hopefully, you will be pleasantly surprised that the real life experience goes much smoother than expected.

For the students who have legally changed their name and documents, be prepared and bring notarized copies of your name/gender marker change. You may never need them, but having immediate access to the documents can save time and future errors. Just tuck them away in a safe place, and relax knowing you’re covered.

Like I said before, college is exciting, and hopefully, your experience with higher education will be a time in your life that you look back with fondness. The best way to increase those chances is to do some homework before you begin. Find out as much as you can before classes start, but continue to ask questions throughout your academic career, ask for help and seek out the allies. College is far more than just taking classes; it’s the entire experience of being on your own and learning more about yourself, and the more information you have beforehand, the better your chances are of success during the school year.

Learn more about Jeremy Wallace and his diversity and inclusion keynotes at campuspeak.com/wallace.

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My Biggest Takeaways as a Non-traditional College Student http://www.campuspeak.com/dosanddonts/ Tue, 22 Aug 2017 14:49:28 +0000 http://www.campuspeak.com/?p=25833 By: Ethan Fisher, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker It seems like college was only a short time ago. College was a part of my life for over a decade – and no – I’m not a doctor. In 1998, I started my freshman year, and I didn’t graduate with my first bachelor’s degree until 2010. I received my […]

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By: Ethan Fisher, CAMPUSPEAK Speaker

It seems like college was only a short time ago. College was a part of my life for over a decade – and no – I’m not a doctor. In 1998, I started my freshman year, and I didn’t graduate with my first bachelor’s degree until 2010. I received my second bachelor’s degree in 2011 and my master’s degree in 2014. I think it is safe to say that I know the college world better than most.

The majority of my time on campus was filled with nights and weeks of constant binge drinking and partying like many students. Every morning, I woke up with a headache and a dry mouth. My body and brain hurt so much that I wouldn’t get out of bed; pulling the blankets back over me and sleeping the day away. I would attend classes occasionally, neglecting my responsibilities as a student and student-athlete.

Midterms and finals would come and go as laid in my bed waiting for the evening to come so I could start drinking again. The end of the semester showed this with transcripts of grades that consisted of D’s, F’s, Incomplete or Withdrawal.

Already knowing I was failing out of school, my bags were packed and ready to move back home and attend the local community college. This reoccurring lifestyle lasted the next half decade, thinking college was just a game. In total, I failed out of five schools and re-enrolling at the same community college five different semesters.

In 2003 that all changed after getting invited to a local house party. It was a typical night of drinking with friends until I found myself waking up in a hospital bed after drinking wine and blacking out. Eventually, a nurse came in and told me that I drove drunk and killed somebody – let that sink in.

Imagine what it’s like to live the rest of your life knowing you killed an innocent man from drinking and driving. Imagine the person’s family – crying and grieving for the rest of their lives. They lost their family member because of a college student who chose to drink and drive.

It can happen to you!

I had a choice to make. I could give up at life, or I could decide to change. I chose to change.

Fast-forward nearly five years later. School became a priority. I won multiple academic awards and honors. I shifted my priorities when I was released from prison. I knew it was important to get my college education, considering my situation in the legal system. I wanted to graduate from college and earn my degree and prove to everyone that I changed.

College would give me an opportunity to rebuild my life as a convicted felon. It would give me some hope in finding a somewhat normal life and a better job. By 2014, I graduated with two bachelor’s degrees, three minors, one master’s degree and a GPA of 3.71, while working 40 hours per week. From my experience, here are four of my biggest takeaways from my non-traditional time in college:

Manage Your Time – During my last stint in college, I was taking anywhere between 12 – 24 credits a trimester, working 30-40 hours per week and playing college basketball; which is a full-time job. I did this by managing my time. I would “chunk” hours throughout the day based on necessity. I would wake up at 4 AM, work until basketball practice at 6:00 AM. At 9 AM, I would go to class or do homework until break, go home and work a few hours. I would go back to homework or class, work a few hours and back to homework until midnight. I managed my time and made sure I didn’t get burned out on one subject or work by separating tasks in blocks of 2-3 hours.

Build a Relationship with Your Professors – Ask questions and be engaged in classes with your professor. Ask for help and build relationships with your teachers that can not only improve your grades but will also build lasting relationships outside of your college years. Professors want to help their students, and many will continue to do so after you graduate. To this day, I still visit my business professor for his advice about entrepreneurship wisdom and ideas.

Don’t Procrastinate – I managed my time to accomplish more than most. I always made sure I got to projects, papers, or goals as soon as I could. I would start preparing for the midterms after the first week. I would slowly review my notes or do research for my business papers within the first day or two. I would never “cram” for a test or final because I was already prepared. Don’t live your college life stressed out because you’re doing everything last-minute.

Don’t Let Alcohol, Drugs, and Parties Ruin Your Life – It is easy for me to say that alcohol, drugs, and parties in college ruined my life. It also destroyed the life of another person and destroyed their family. I used to think all the stories I heard about accidents and doing dumb things while drunk in college were just scare-tactics by adults. I stumbled around five college campuses thinking that it would NEVER happen to me – and it did!

I wish I had taken school seriously when I first started as a freshman and followed my dreams before I allowed alcohol and drugs to ruin my life. I regret giving into the social pressures of my campus environment, and I wish I had never allowed myself to become a follower of others and chose to be the leader that I am today.

Learn more about Ethan Fisher at campuspeak.com/fisher.

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