Category Archives: Personal Thoughts

Don’t Let Your “Reality” Limit Your Thinking

As I’m looking over the presentations I’ve done in the past on slideshare, I’m amazed at how much social media has helped me change in the way I view my world. Social media exposed me to networks of other professionals and new ideas way beyond the boundaries of the physical world I live and work.

I’m reminded of the story of a young frog who grew up in the bottom of a well. Because the frog couldn’t see the top of the well, the frog had no clue there’s a world beyond what he saw and lived. This was until a flood came and the water inside the well rose high enough that the frog finally saw the world he was living in the whole time. The flood in a way is like social media when it comes to my experience.

I still remember the first time I logged on to twitter on August 9, 2010. I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard about it from few folks at my university who had started using it and so I decided to try it. I was skeptical at first as I had no clue what twitter could even be used for. I mean 140 characters? What can you do with 140 characters? Almost five years later, and it’s unbelievable how social media has transformed my personal and professional lives. Through twitter, I learned from others how to blog and what to write about. I’ve met so many people in my field of student affairs and higher ed, I’ve gotten involved with projects beyond my university, and social media has transformed how I learn.

What if I had ignored twitter back then because I didn’t realize the value of it? Just like the frog, I still would have been in my own limited world.

Don’t Forget the Big Picture

How we view our work may just make a difference in how engaged and motivated we are. There are portions of our jobs that we don’t particularly enjoy. Some are mundane and not very exciting at all. There are personalities conflict, politics to be navigated, and too much to do with not enough resources. If we forget the reasons why we joined student affairs in the first place, what motivated us to go to graduate school and/or spend countless hours to hone our skills/experience to get into our positions, our jobs may just become something we need to do to pay our bills. For some, we may just get to a point where we dread coming to work. There’s a story about The three stone cutters and it goes something like this:

One day a traveller, walking along a lane, came across 3 stonecutters working in a quarry. Each was busy cutting a block of stone. Interested to find out what they were working on, he asked the first stonecutter what he was doing. “I am cutting a stone!” Still no wiser the traveller turned to the second stonecutter and asked him what he was doing. “I am cutting this block of stone to make sure that it’s square, and its dimensions are uniform, so that it will fit exactly in its place in a wall.” A bit closer to finding out what the stonecutters were working on but still unclear, the traveller turned to the third stonecutter. He seemed to be the happiest of the three and when asked what he was doing replied: “I am building a cathedral.” (Leadership Quality)

The story resonates with me and it’s a story I try to remember during some trying times because it reminds me of why I’m in student affairs. My goal is to help students, especially the ones who may have extra challenges similar to me when I was a student – first generation, low-middle income family, and one who may not feel like they belong. For me, thinking about the big picture and why I joined student affairs gives me a sense of direction and a sense of purpose. It’s too easy to get down and get frustrated with the day-to-day challenges of our jobs. But, if we are to think that the paper pushing we do, the crucial conversations we have to do, and the meetings we dread attending are all part of a bigger purpose, it may just change how we view our work.




Reflecting on Why I Love My Job in Student Affairs

I came across a couple of blog posts and some tweets on why it’s not a good idea to love one’s job. It made me think of how I I approach what I do in student affairs. I’ve come to the conclusion that for me to do what I do, I really do need to care and love the purpose of my contributions and the folks that impact them for me to have put the efforts and thoughts all these years. By no means am I suggesting  other folks who don’t share the same level of care/love can’t/don’t do their job as well or better than I do. Nor am I suggesting that my job is all fun and games. I share my stories not to suggest other folks should approach their jobs like me, but because I do genuinely feel blessed to be working for an organization which provides me personal and professional satisfactions.

The bureaucracy, the lack of resources to do what need to be done, and sometimes difficult personalities are challenges that make my job hard at times. At times, I feel as I’ve been treated lesser than others because of the color of my skin or my background. But, they are all worth the efforts to deal with them given the reasons why I’m in student affairs. To me, it’s about helping the first generation students who don’t have parents and family members who can help them navigate college, those who are struggling financially to attend school, those who are trying to find themselves in a society that is not fair at times. The satisfaction in my job is just seeing these students succeed. They may not even know I exist. That’s okay. I’m not asking for anything in return from these students personally. I’ve been fortunate though to have built relationships with some students that have lasted beyond their years at UCSB.

If I view my job in student affairs IT as just about computers, I’m missing the bigger picture. In the end, it’s about helping students succeed through technology and my roles as discussion leader, organizational advisor, mentor, and a facilitator. In my role as the director/leader in my IT organization, it’s about helping my staff and my colleagues grow, create an environment where they feel personally satisfied with what they do and that they feel they are contributing. Ultimately, my job is about helping people and helping build communities. I am also part of the UCSB community.

As I reflect on this topic of why one should not love their job, I came across these blog posts I’ve written in the past that remind me of why I love my job.

Nowhere I’d Rather Be Than in Student Affairs:

The Significance of Possibility/Role Models:

UCSB STEP Program – Nourishment For My Soul

Why I Love My Job in Student Affairs

UCSB Community – We’re All In This Together

Pilipino Graduation and What My Job Really Means

Beware: Don’t Become The Very Thing You Criticize

I once belonged to an organization as a student. It was an organization that had a relatively large membership, I would say more than 100 members. As such is the case with an organization of that size, cliques and sub-groups based on interests and backgrounds began to form. In addition, “in-crowds”, those considered popular and influential to the organization and its activities soon developed. Along with the “in-crowd” were those who felt marginalized as they felt their interests weren’t heard and acknowledged. Soon, the marginalized folks began to express their discontent about the lack of discourse and openness to alternative ideas which ultimately lead them to break-away from the main organization to form their own group.

What became of the new group, from my perspective, was an interesting one. Whether the members of this new group realized it or not, they themselves began to alienate new members because the new members did not align with the group’s ideologies. It’s ironic that the core group members began to practice the same behaviors of the “in-crowd” of the other organization they had criticized.

As we fight  for our own rights and the rights of others to be heard, just remember that when you are afforded the opportunity to finally be heard and to provide influence – just beware, don’t become the very thing you criticize.


Nowhere I’d Rather Be Than in Student Affairs

It is during the most challenging times of my job when I find myself thinking how blessed I am to have my job in student affairs, specifically as an IT leader within student affairs. The sometimes convoluted nature of higher education bureaucracy, the pressure of having to deliver critical technology services with the limited amount of resources, and having to juggle competing priorities make it challenging some days. But, even with these challenges, actually, because of these challenges, that I feel blessed to have my job. I can easily look beyond the day-to-day frustrations because I know that at the end of the day, what matters is that my colleagues and I, the work we do, have a very important purpose – to help students succeed.

My wife and I were watching a tv show this evening, it might have been Dinners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the food network. The host asked a chef “how much of what you do is work and how much is it love?” My wife asked me, the same question. My immediate answer is 100% love. That may sound corny but and overly sentimental, but I truly believe it. Yes, my job provides me and my wife income to live a life we enjoy, but frankly, if I were paid the same amount working outside student affairs, I don’t think I will have the same personal and professional fulfillment. What the public may hear and read about UCSB at times is that we are a party school. The reality is that I know many students who came from challenging backgrounds growing up and they have had to fight through some adversities to get to the university. I also know that these students take their studies seriously as they not only have the burden of creating a future for themselves but for their families as well. These students drive me. They motivate me to do my part to make sure they succeed.

I don’t think about this often, but from time to time, I look at our portfolio, the body of work our team has done through the years, and it’s amazing how technology impacts the lives of our students, way before they even step on to our university. I think about how our online disabled student program system enable our students with disabilities to get accessibility resources (note takers, proctors, adaptive devices), how our student health service and counseling and psychological service information systems helps our clinicians and psychologists provide timely and effective service to our students, and how our  other systems and applications assist our students from the application process and after they graduate. When I think about the value of these systems,  I realize how important our roles are to the success of our students.

There are times when I read/hear others complain about the demands of our jobs as student affairs professionals and I think I can sympathize with some of these complaints. But, personally, if one is to think about the amazing opportunities we have to make a difference in the lives of our students and their families, how blessed are we to be working in student affairs.