Making the decision to attend college is a big step for anyone. For those who choose to take this step, it could mean a world of difference in their personal growth and development. When I was an undergraduate, I spent much of my time studying for class and working through my major courses. My first year of college was tough! I was homesick, I didn’t understand how to manage my courses, and there didn’t seem to be enough time to make friends on campus. For the first time in a long time, I felt alone.
Eventually, I realized that I was not the only student feeling like a fish out of water. I began to share my feelings and thoughts with other students and this process help me to form connections and build relationships. As an undergraduate, I thought that I had to find my own path by myself. But, as God would have it, there were people placed in my path to help me. Every day got a little easier, and each new faculty connection allowed me to see myself within my major. I began to use the academic support on campus to boost my grades and get the extra help and attention that I needed to succeed. As I grew and had more confidence in myself and the person I wanted to become, I found myself making more friends on campus.
For the first time in my life, I began to challenge myself, to push myself to do harder things that seemed out of reach. For example, stepping out of my comfort zone and going abroad to study. Up until college, I had never thought about leaving my country to go abroad. I continued to push, and I joined a student club that allowed me to conquer my fear of public speaking. Then I thought to myself “let's go further,” so I joined a writing club to overcome my struggle with finding the right words to share my thoughts.
People will often frame college around the need to have fun and get good grades. College for me was an active rebirth. I used my time in college to challenge the inner-thoughts that had convinced me to limit myself and lower my expectations. I saw my undergraduate career as a chance to reset myself, my expectations, and the limitations that I had placed on myself. I left the person I was in order to become the person that I need to be for myself.
As I think about what it will mean for our new undergraduates at Le Moyne, I can’t help but think that God will place people in their paths to guide their journeys. I hope that our undergraduates see their time within the College as one of self-awareness, self-exploration, and an opportunity to serve. I believe that these three pieces allowed me to grow into my personal and professional path while in college. I hope that our students allow us to help them find their paths.
Shaun Crisler is the incoming associate provost for student development at Le Moyne College. Crisler will arrive on the Heights after serving as the assistant vice president for residence life and housing at SUNY Oswego. He writes and speaks on topics such as professional development, career planning, intercultural competence, assessment and professional recruitment/selection, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in higher education administration Ph.D. program at Illinois State University in Normal, Ill.