Student Affairs and Technology have been my primary interest areas ever since I found out that student affairs was a profession. Coming into student affairs work from a public relations background has made me slightly unique in the field. A lot of my peers come from residence life or student government. They were RA's or student representatives as undergrads, loved it, and started on the path to student affairs. As a communications, public relations, and marketing professional, I was unaware that someone could actually be a student affairs professional. I sort of accidentally fell in love with student affairs.
My first student affairs gig was as the public relations intern for the Wellness and Recreation Center (WRC) at the University of Northern Iowa. I was the "publicity guy." I created websites, ads for the campus newspaper, and represented the WRC at various events. For me, it was a public relations position that was conveniently close to where I lived on campus. However, I was mentored by fantastic student affairs professionals who had a great impact on my future career path.
My first full time student affairs job began at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Ironically, but not intentionally, I was employed as the marketing specialist for the Wellness Center. I guess I have a thing for wellness. Once again, I did not really feel like a student affairs professional because I was the "marketing guy." It wasn't until I was involved with promoting, developing and facilitating various programs that I started to really enjoy the student affairs profession. When students started asking me for copies of my wellness-oriented posters for their residence hall rooms, I knew that I was doing something right. I began to get thoroughly involved with multiple aspects of student affairs work at UIC. I chaired student judicial hearings, collaborated with student development services, the dean of students office, campus activities, residence life, recreational sports, career services, counseling services and the disability services office. I loved it.
I decided to pursue a masters degree in education with a focus on college student services administration at Oregon State University (OSU). This was mostly due to the fact that a masters degree is almost always a requirement for advancement in student affairs. I landed a graduate assistantship in the Office of Enrollment Management. I was the "Student Affairs Web Specialist." I would have preferred to be called the "Student Affairs Techie," but specialist worked out okay. I learned about, and worked with, OSU Admissions, Financial Aid, and the Registrar's Office. I had found a professional home.
I'm now working as an academic advisor and web coordinator at OSU in the College of Health and Human Sciences. Apparently I should have titled this blog: Student Affairs, Technology, and Wellness! The best part about my current position is that I get to blend my love of student affairs work with my passion for technology.
I've been blogging at EricStoller.com since 2004 and have been fairly consistent with my calls to action regarding student affairs and technology. This blog is going to be a place for me to continue posting about the current and future progression of student affairs and technology.
A couple of years ago I was a participant for a conference panel on student affairs and technology. The evaluations were less than positive. Almost all of the comments shared a common theme: "be less technical and explain the basics." Fortunately, there was one comment that has stuck with me and that I use as a call to action: "Helping me to boldly go where I’ve never been before." It gives me hope as a student affairs techie that we as a profession have not lost our willingness to learn, to explore, and to stay positive about new technologies. Let’s push the envelope. Let’s shift our professional paradigms. Let’s make technology (and learning about new technologies) a part of our daily practice in student affairs.