The decision to enroll in the University of Redlands’ Master’s in Educational Administration was easy. The program’s shining reputation glimmered throughout the community, further evidenced by Bulldog décor in the offices of many local school administrators. In class, learning about issues and theories surrounding social justice was a wonderful experience, but I desired the opportunity to put my leadership skills and advocacy into action. Early in my first year, I learned about the Graduate Student Association (GSA) through the School of Education Monday Message. I applied for and was elected to join the Cabinet as the Department Liaison for Leadership and Higher Education for the 21-22 school year.
In this new role, I served as a connection between my classmates and other students in adjoining programs, providing them with an opportunity to voice their concerns, feedback, and suggestions to Cabinet and GSA Advisors. In my first year, I learned much about leadership and becoming a better listener, seeking to understand others’ positions. These experiences helped to broaden my understanding of leadership and community service. As the year ended, I felt a sense of pride knowing that my work and advocacy contributed to positive change. Our student-led events and outreach had a visible impact on students, and I was able to connect our work with the University of Redlands’ mission statement. My decision to run for a Cabinet position for the 22-23 school year was made with enthusiasm and excitement to continue to serve graduate students.
In the 22-23 school year I had the honor of serving as the President of GSA surrounded by supportive and compassionate Cabinet members who embodied the three tenets of advocacy, collaboration, and educational justice. I have strived to build connections and elevate the experience of graduate students in the School of Education through connection, resources, and opportunities for growth and engagement. This year was especially rewarding because we held student events in person for the first time since the GSA was created. With the isolation of the pandemic world fading behind us, we sought to create greater community and connection on campus.
GSA started the year by welcoming new Bulldogs on Admitted Students Day and connecting with the community during the School of Education’s Homecoming. To foster a greater connection between graduate students and the University, the GSA hosted events such as Holidays Around the World, a Resume Writing Workshop, and the celebration of Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week. This celebration included S’more with George, Sip and Paint Night, Tye-Dying, and Game Night. Each of the events were well-attended and built community through fun and engagement.
In support of student advocacy, the GSA has collectively brought graduate student voices forward by participating in Strategic Action Planning with the Center for Educational Justice and School of Education. Our Cabinet provided graduate students the option to share their questions, comments, or concerns via an online feedback form. Additionally, Cabinet members served the community through campaigns such as Food Pantry promotion, Rise Against Hunger, and our Regalia Donation Drive.
Looking back on my experience with GSA, I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to give back while at the same time being allowed the opportunity to grow and develop myself as a leader and advocate. As I move into the next phase of my career as a school administrator, I bring the experience and expertise of leadership in building an inclusive community to drive positive change. My hope is that next year GSA will continue to flourish and grow with new student leaders at the helm.