#DoIBelongHere: Dealing With Imposter Syndrome in Higher Ed

Hello Readers,

It has definitely been a culture shock these past few months being in a different city, and larger university as well as moving into the role of graduate student, supervisor and advisor.

For years, I have often struggled with feeling like an imposter or feeling like I am not good enough. Although people tell me I have done remarkable things such as being the first in my family to graduate from college and continue my education by pursuing a masters degree, there are still times when I cannot help but feel like I don’t belong.

As a person that represents many minority groups as a black, first-generation, LGBTQ+ student that also has an invisible disability, I often find myself in the middle of everything which has its advantages and disadvantages.

Because of these multiple identities, I am able to relate to a variety of people which is very helpful in the realm of student affairs, however, there are often times when I don’t feel like I belong to any of my identity groups because I am that one individual that represents so many of them at once not giving one more meaning than the other because all of them are part of who I am. When I am spending time with any particular group, I often feel like I don’t belong or that I am an imposter.

It can definitely be a challenge when I just feel like I don’t belong at all, but I have to remind myself that everything that I am dealing with is just part of being me. I was admitted into graduate school because the faculty believed in me and believe I have what it takes to be a student affairs professional. WKU hired me because they knew I would be one of the best for the job and that these identities, although rather frustrating at times, they make me, me and I need to embrace these identities to truly be the best me I can be.

Thanks for reading.

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Making Connections

What I have enjoyed the most about my Summer@Brown internship experience is being able to make connections, not just with many of the professionals that are currently in the field but also with current graduate students and others like me that are preparing to embark on their student affairs journey.

For the past few weeks, I have been studying for the GRE and fine tuning my statement of purpose for my number one graduate school choice. I feel so determined right now to go all out on this particular application and really give my 110 percent both on the GRE and in completing the remainder of the application materials.

Applying to an institution in the Ivy League something that I never thought that I would do but after meeting so many amazing people, it does not surprise me that they have motivated me to really go above what I think I can accomplish.

I’m getting the opportunity to network with professionals that share identities with me which I believe is the best thing that could have ever happened. Many of these professionals have opened the door for me to really explore the field a bit deeper and it is helping me in guidance to discovering what area of student affairs I want to focus on.

Although I am still very passionate about leadership development, it is also very important to me to be involved in areas that provide resources to students that may be first-generation students, low-income students, or students from various minority groups such as being a person of color or identifying as LGBTQ+.

Personally, I don’t think there is enough praise given to students that identify as first-generation that are about to be the first in their family to get a degree. I have had the pleasure of sharing with some of the Summer@Brown students that being a first-generation student is more than just getting a degree.  Being first-generation means that you get to set the bar for many of the people in your family and / or community. Many were also concerned with being people of color and attending a predominantly white institution (PWI). As a student that does attend a PWI, I shared with them that sometimes you have to be that person to go out of your comfort zone and show others that are like you that it’s ok.

I’m learning more and more that this field is all about taking chances as well as being prepared for any kind of situation. It is going to be really hard to return home but I know that I have to take what I’ve learned and try my best to apply it to my own leadership development. I am learning that there are many people that do not support me and the career path that I have chosen, but I am also learning that through the connections that I have made and through the many people that I have met in this field, there are some people that do believe in me as an aspiring professional and I am so thankful for them and their continued support.

Summer@Brown Continues

Hello Readers,

It has been quite a while since I have made a blog post. There has been much going on lately as the summer continues.

So far I have gotten my first group of residents in my building, served my first night in the on-call duty rotation, completed my online summer course, gotten a head start on my graduate school applications, hosted a few workshops and began a new project that I hope to complete before the end of the summer or by graduation.

Yes, I know it sounds like a lot but being at Brown, I just feel so inspired to do more and be more.

It was definitely a challenge getting back into the norms of the resident assistant position. It has been almost two years now since I served on an on-call duty rotation and being the RA on-duty for emergencies, I must admit I did not get any sleep. I was afraid that the phone would ring and I would sleep past the call. I know that timing is everything when it comes to emergency situations and I want to make sure that I am 100 percent ready for anything that might happen.

I have really enjoyed being able to speak to students during the diversity workshop that I co-facilitate with two other RAs about being a first generation college student and what resources are available both before and during college. It just feels so rewarding to be role models to these students and show them that even though we are low-income, first-generation students, we can do anything we set our minds to.

I have just been so inspired being around so many different leaders of different backgrounds here at Brown. I have gotten to know people that are leaders in the field of Public Health, people who are leaders in the LGBTQ+ community and people that are leaders in the field of higher education and student affairs. I have never been in a place where I have felt so socially accepted and I feel like it is really pushing me to be at my best.

This summer, I am doing something that I never thought I would do, apply to an institution in the Ivy League. My current top choice for graduate school is the Master of Science in Education program in Higher Education at the University of Pennsylvania. After speaking with recent graduates from UPenn as well as the faculty about the program, I am feeling really determined to see if I can get into this institution.

I have so much support from my RA colleagues as well as a few of the Resident Directors and a few of my mentors from home and I always remember what a wise person told me “Don’t settle for anything small, be the best that you can be”. Those words have continued to linger in the back of my head and they motivate me every day to work hard and get into a good graduate program.

GRE

I can’t wait to see what other exciting things the summer holds and as I begin preparation for the Graduate Record Examination that I plan to take next month. Wish me Luck!