Belonging, part 2.

20140507-230236.jpgToday, I won a really wonderful award. I was given the honor of Outstanding New Staff member for the Division of Student Affairs. I have a nice, shiny statue to place in my office, I was applauded and hugged by my wonderful colleagues and friends, and many kind words were spoken about me. Being a new staff member in student affairs sure isn’t easy, and the past couple of years have truly tested my resolve, creativity, and knowledge. So I am truly grateful to be honored with such recognition.

I am much more grateful, however, for something that is much harder to see than a statue. When I moved here nearly two years ago, I was leaving a place that I felt a deep sense of belonging. I knew in my bones that UMaine was part of me and I was part of it. Shortly after moving to Connecticut, I wrote about my transition experience:

It’s one thing to know in my mind that I’ve made a great choice in my career by coming to UConn; I knew that months ago when I accepted the position. It’s another thing to feel in my heart that I belong here; that’s a feeling that comes only with time and experiences. And those things don’t come in a job description or an offer letter, but by building relationships, getting invested, getting to know students, and putting my unique mark on my work.

Somewhere along the way this year, among long to-do lists, longer nights, countless hours talking with students, moments of fear, laughter, and tears, in the midst of difficult conversations and inspirational breakthroughs, between hugs from students and jokes with friends, I started to feel in my heart that I belong here.

I’m so grateful to my colleagues (who have become great friends) and my students for being part of this journey. The opportunity to wake up every day and make an impact and a difference in this community is not lost on me. I am so humbled by the opportunity to be an educator and to learn from those around me. So the statue is pretty great and I’m not about to give it back, but it will never compare to the feeling of belonging.

 

The Big Move!

Okay, the move wasn’t really that big because I only moved an hour and a half away. I am also in a temporary apartment until mine is ready, so I unpacked probably 10% of my stuff. Easiest move-in ever. It really was quite easy, thanks to several of my new colleagues, who came to carry my stuff inside (note to anyone on-boarding new employees, having a move-in crew is basically the best welcome ever). I was also welcomed by this wonderful sign and a basket of goodies and essentials!

My first day of work is on Friday, which leaves me plenty of time to explore the campus and the area, get lost until I figure out where I’m going, and take care of some initial stuff. I successfully made my first trip to Super Wal-Mart yesterday, where a very nice associate mistook me for the traffic reporter on the local Fox news before showing me where the Brita pitchers are. I’ll take it as a compliment.

Today I procured my new employee parking pass, activated my NetID (so I can use the internet for important things like blogging), and got my UConn email address. I’ve also got my tax forms all ready to fill out. This should leave me plenty of extra time at New Employee Orientation on Friday to figure out my insurance and retirement plans.

I also took a nice long walk around campus last night, checking out some landmarks like Gampel Pavilion, the Jonathan the Husky Statue, and Mirror Lake, as well as checking out the more historic areas of campus (which I’m a total geek for) and creeping around my buildings (since I’m not living over there yet). Yesterday was a beautiful day and I have to say that I’m completely enamored with this campus. It’s beautiful and I’m looking forward to discovering more of it!

Eddy Hall, my soon-to-be new home
Jonathan the Husky, looking regal