What is #RoadToCACUSS: The Ride?

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What is #RoadToCACUSS: The Ride?

by Jen Gonzales, Director, Student Life and Brandon Smith, Coordinator, Residence Life and Education and members of the RoadToCACUSS steering committee.

Two years ago, 6 Student Affairs professionals took a recreational vehicle and travelled from Ryerson University in Toronto, ON to Vancouver, BC—the host of CACUSS 2015. This group explored six universities in Canada and the United States, spanning three provinces and seven states. The goal in 2014 was to engage in a reflective journey of personal and professional development. We learned about each other, our professional identities, and how connected our field was across the continent as we were faced with many similar challenges regardless of institution type and location.

While on the RV, we looked up the location for #CACUSS17 and jokingly asked ourselves, “Could we ride our bikes to Ottawa?” We talked about how we could expand the project to include anyone from the CACUSS community, with the intention of welcoming others to experience the learning and transformative experience we were engaged in.

#RoadToCACUSS 2017 was born with the goal of multiple participants successfully cycling over 450 km from Toronto to Ottawa, ON. This iteration we decided to focus on a question we believe is paramount to all in our community. We know the work we do to support the student experience outside of the classroom is important, but who do we have to be in order to best deliver this support? Why should students trust us? Is a flourishing Student Affairs professional better able to support the student experience?

With an open invitation sent out across CACUSS, participants from Ryerson, Queen’s, and Western University will leave Sunday June 4 from Toronto and arrive in Ottawa on Thursday June 8. Each participant has committed themselves to the physical training and mental challenge it will take to successfully cycle to Ottawa while raising awareness and funds for a cause that touches all of our work: the mental health and well-being of our students.

Participants have committed to bring awareness to their own developments, and connect a personal and/or professional challenge they are experiencing to Martin Seligman’s PERMA-V framework. Each week, participants will be introduced to a component of the model and an exercise from the ThriveRU Workbook that will help them develop resilience as we experience this journey. In addition, all participants will fundraise for Jack.org, which will allow for student groups to develop anti-stigma initiatives related to mental health and illness across 120 chapters at universities and colleges in Canada.

19 professionals from many areas of Student Affairs and Services—including Student Development & Counselling, Housing & Residence Life, Student Learning Support, Career Education, and Student Life—have accepted the challenge. Along this journey, they will:

  • identify a personal and professional challenge they desire to transform;
  • identify how two components of Dr. Martin Seligman’s PERMA-V (Positive Emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, Accomplishment, and Vitality) model could be used to transform a personal and/or professional challenge through discussion and reflection;
  • connect their experience to the development of one competency from the CACUSS competency model;
  • consider how PERMA-V may inform their activities, personal/professional development, and modelling of holistic health through reflection and discussion.

Our work calls us to innovatively solve problems, while maintaining personal well-being, and modelling wellness to colleagues/students. We will put our wellness on the line during this iteration of the #RoadToCACUSS. We invite you to participate with us in weekly flourishing exercises, to donate to the Jack Project, to tell us about your personal journey as you prepare for #CACUSS17, and to become a part of the this dynamic conversation. We’re excited to share all our stories as we connect across our various journeys to #CACUSS17!

Follow the #RoadToCACUSS journey before, during, and after on http://roadtocacuss.ca and share your own journey using #RoadToCACUSS.

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Some of the RoadToCACUSS folks pose with their bikes after a 40K training ride.