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Golden State of Mind: Leezel Ramos

February 10, 2010

In Leading with Soul, authors Bolman and Deal (2001), describes a journey as “[first] letting go of comfortable and familiar ways… leaving home leads to the journey’s second stage—the quest. The quest is always a time of almost overwhelming danger and challenge… [lastly] be ready for the third stage of the journey, returning home. Home will be different and so will [you], because [you] will be armed with new capacities and the deeper understanding that [you] could acquire only by undertaking this journey” (p.46-47). For me, that’s the NUFP experience.

Being raised in Southern California with my college experience reaching its last half of my fourth year as an undergraduate, it’s time to leave what is familiar. The crisp winds of Chi-town are this year’s setting for the NASPA National Conference and it couldn’t have been in any better place. As the hometown of our nation’s president and the most televised cry for change in the public K-12 system, the atmosphere calls for critical thinking and creative solutions for education.

Higher education is no exception and this is our challenge. It would be an honor to attend such a meeting of great minds, to “be the movement toward social justice and the common good within institutions, communities, and personal lives” (http://www.naspa.org/conf/programs/default.cfm). The National Conference will serve to develop aspiring professionals and a chance to dialogue with those more experienced to ensure that its mission and movement continue.

The conference format supports a transformational learning experience. It’s a concrete experience that emphasizes personal involvement with people, other attendees. It’s where learning takes an active form – experimenting – and learning ideas and situations are understood from diverse viewpoints (Paige et al, 2002). This is how I learn best. This is why I want to be there in March of 2010.

After the Western Regional Careers in Student Affairs Day in San Diego in October 2009, the NUFP pre-conference workshop lead by Nathan Victoria will be the next step in uncovering the layers of knowledge about the field of student affairs. I hope to learn about the history, formation, and what inspired the foundation of the profession. I want to ask – what issues currently affect college students? What new and innovated programs address these issues especially regarding social identity and meaning development? NASPA National Conference will open the doors to information and opportunity.

Team building and shared experiences will create an inclusive sense of community that will help me bring back strategies to develop my own organizations on a human level. Skills to manage people can be learned, but captivating them is key. I’ve been fortunate enough to have mentors in my life who believed in me and showed me that I’m capable of achieving my own successes. I want to be that kind of person for others – to challenge and cultivate inquisitive minds. Because our campus is largely commuter students, I plan to reach out to them with the opportunity to be involve and provide tools to be successful. I’ll stress the invaluable life lessons and transferable skills that can be gained. As director of the Student Leadership Institute, active member of our chapter of Alpha Phi Omega National Service Fraternity, and volunteer service coordinator for a program of the Center for Internships and Community Engagement, my anticipated adventure at National Conference will not only benefit me, but the campus community as well.

I’m excited to connect with other NUFP Fellows across the country and begin my professional network. The diversity of NUFP Fellows will contribute to the richness of personal histories that could broaden my outlook on society and what’s possible in making it better. Essential to achieving NUFP learning outcomes, it’s to ultimately recognize similarities, embrace difference, and reciprocate respect.

Everyone looks at the world with lenses shaped by their life experiences. As each individual has unique contoured lenses, the presence of others and myself will provide various standpoints, opinions, beliefs, and values to the conversation. My lens is of a young Filipino-American woman who challenged herself to be open to other ideals and was willing to test her own values and core principles. That’s why I gave the closing remarks at the end of the first conference I ever coordinated. I saw everyone standing and applauding and it was then that I had an epiphany. Everyone has their own reasons for the work that they do, but at that very profound moment, I found mine. I finally understood that it’s giving up what you do for something greater than yourself and for me it was my peers in the audience. I took up that responsibility, for them and so I worked to provide a space on such a grand scale. I knew each individual student organization was amazing, but I wanted them to discover that that within each other. I firmly believe if you get the right people together with the right resources, anything is possible.

It’s times like this that lead me to discover who I am and help construct my life and leadership philosophy, activities that foster human understanding and build self-esteem. Most of all, my love for leadership and student development are affirmed continually as I aspire to become a student affairs professional.

At National Conference I shall “be bold.” The same motto I’ve themed for the program I direct, “be bold” is a call-to-action to challenge oneself to be more confident, explore new life experiences, and make a difference. From pre-conference workshops to educational sessions, National Conference is where the country will come together. This will be a place to support one another, to network, to collaborate and publicize programs and ideas. It will be a medium through which seasoned professionals, new professionals, graduate students, and undergraduate students can learn together. We can work with one another to create alliances, opportunities, and for me – begin to live the legacy.

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