Now, Near, New

On the Saturday evening before we left on the #RoadtoCACUSS, I hit send and submitted my final research project to wrap up my Masters degree. My second time around as a student was a completely different experience then the first. I’m a different person.

My transition into university was tough. I only went to a couple of events during Orientation Week, I commuted, played basketball, and disliked my program. I automatically belonged to the community of student athletes at the university, but I struggled to connect outside of sport. This journey has been a chance for me to reconnect with 18-year-old Kait. I’ve been given a chance to, in a week, experience some of the things I missed during my first year of university.

Let’s be real for a second. We all know each other. We work together on a regular basis and always have something to laugh about. Spending 168 consecutive hours together is a different beast. We work well together in our respective jobs at Ryerson, but do we bring our whole (and I mean whole) selves to work? In a week, we will hit a lot of the same milestones as the students we see each day.

On Tuesday, we had the privilege of meeting with Deb Schmidt-Rogers and Julie Kirchmeier, two very inspiring and experienced Student Affairs professionals at Northwestern University.  Northwestern is a beautiful campus with current plans for new buildings and expansion. Speaking about the transition out of the old buildings and into the new, Julie explained the process in three steps: now, near, and new. The same concept applies to the student transition we’re modeling on this trip.

Move In

Our send off reminded me of a mini-version of a residence move-in day. Our colleagues met us on campus to send us off and as the door closed to the RV, we embarked on a journey that would ultimately leave us different people then we were at that very moment. We settled into our roles quickly on the RV, full of anticipation about the next seven days.

First Failure

We arrived at our first campground, stepped onto our campsite and immediately gravitated towards the fire pit. This is where it would all happen. We were well prepared but struggled to get a good fire going. Failing at something we had planned so well for was a bit disheartening. Cue our amazing neighbour with some sort of magical campfire starter and sure enough, we were on our way to a hot meal.

My New Friends

I’ve learned more about the people on this trip in a week then I have in all of our time working together. Taking ourselves out of the comfort zones we’ve grown accustomed to has allowed us to connect on a much deeper level. A connection that will carry on beyond our time on the road and into the work we do each day.

Graduation

It’s almost over. Eight months of planning and lots of work later, we’re close to Vancouver for #cacuss15. What are our next steps? How will this impact our personal and professional lives? How will this change our work together? All questions that only the future will hold the answers to.

This experience has changed my perspective. Seeing the incredible work our colleagues across the US and Canada do each day to support the stages of transition our students experience is enlightening. As I reflect back and look forward, I’m excited for my next transition.

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