I’ve just returned from an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to attend the Summer Admissions Institute with 61 other up and coming admissions, outreach, and enrollment management professionals. We finished the five day experience with our institute faculty sharing, ‘Why they do, what they do’ describing what motivates them to stay in admissions. This post describes why I do what I do.
For me, the simplest answer would encompass two ideas:
1) Someone was there for me, so I pay it forward
2) If not me, then who?
That was the simple response. I’ll try to explain myself on a macro to micro level.
To make a difference in the world. Yes, the work I do can have a global impact. From helping international students enroll at my institution to helping a first generation student gain the opportunity to study abroad. In admissions, we have a global reach and are able to provide students around the world with educational opportunities.
To give back to the country that has giving me so much. JFK said it best, “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” So, what can I do for my country? I believe I am providing our young citizenry with access to higher education opportunities that will enrich their lives. At the same time, empowering students and families to dream big and have faith in their abilities to be successful. I also do what, I do to stop the decline in quality and opportunity in America. We moved from being the leading country in post-secondary attainment in the 1950s to 11th and sliding. What made our country great were the various opportunities available to advance it’s citizens and immigrants. I’ll do my part to provide access and opportunity to college.
I do this for my community. This is were my commitment to access and equity in educational opportunities is rooted. I am a Latino, specifically Guatemalan- Mexican-American. Growing up the message of going to college was non-existent. In high school I thought my only options were the work force or armed forces. But there was an intervention. There was a college prep program that sparked the fire within me. It was as simple as someone saying, “you have the tools, you have the ability, now you just need to believe in yourself.” Boom! I went from invisible to invincible. My outreach style is rooted in aspiration building. It’s my duty to pay it forward because someone intervened in my life and it changed me forever
To be honest, anger also motivates me to do outreach and admissions work. Why? Because I am not satisfied with the conditions or educational realities of my community. I lose sleep over the data and statistics associated with the Latino achievement gap. Latinos are the largest growing population group in the United States yet falling behind in education. We have the largest high school drop out rate of any ethnicity and at the same time we trail all other ethnic groups in baccalaureate degree attainment (Check out the NCES data). That puts a chip on my shoulder. It makes me work twice as hard. I take action because there needs to be something done! Facing these educational realities, there really is no time to rest. We need to improve, we need to move forward. My community is reason why I do what I do.
It takes a village to raise a child, well by that thinking, it takes a town or two to graduate a student. I do outreach and admissions work because I am a first-generation college students. Because my mom, dad, grandparents, uncles made sacrifices that afforded me opportunities unavailable to them. They instilled the values of hard work and determination. They showcased resiliency. Although they did not know what college was like, they supported in any way possible. Knowing I represent them, how could I fail? How could I give up? I realize the privilege of being a college graduate. Not everyone has that opportunity, yet! So I do this work to honor my family.
I do this for me. I do this because my life was changed by people in outreach and admissions. This work makes me feel great, and for the most part I am awesome at it. I really couldn’t picture working in any other setting then a college campus. I do what I do because I believe education is the greatest public good in society. Higher Education is a transformative institution. This work fills my soul and provides an intrinsic value that’s unquantifiable. For those reasons and others I can’t articulate are Why I do, what I do.
I’ll leave you with a quote by bell hooks. Thanks for reading.
“I entered the classroom with the conviction that it was crucial for me and every other student to be an active participant, not a passive consumer… education as the practice of freedom… education that connects the will to know with the will to become. Learning is a place where paradise can be created. ” – bell hooks