I feel blessed to be in a group of colleagues who received an award tonight for major contributions to the field of student affairs and to ACPA (American College Personnel Association-College Student Educators International.) An organization I’ve been part of for almost 30 years – since that first 1985 conference in grad school and the long memorable/forgettable road trip from Bloomington IN to Boston, MA. I did not know at the time it would be the start along a path to what would become my professional home.
This is a lifetime achievement award therefore decades of work was being acknowledged in this capstone manner. Our “2014 Class of Diamond Honorees” represents researchers, practitioners, writers, authors, team members, confidants, mentors, learners, teachers, colleagues and friends. Truly an honor and a privilege to be part of this group.
Listening to the accolades for the Diamond Honorees going up to the stage before me – highlights of their work, their impact on Student Affairs, their contributions to ACPA and their impressive list of degrees, publications and credentials – reinforced how thrilled I was to be in this Class, this association and this field.
It would have been easy to worry about their lists of successes and to compare myself to them. That’s not what this night is about – no winner, no rank order, no “best.” Only about contribution. I believe I am a contribution. It can be hard to say that (to myself or out loud) and maintain humility. Yet, I am so grateful to have been told over the years in person, in an email and in hand-written letters, that who I am matters, what I say makes a difference and what I do is noticed. I hope my colleagues have had the same affirmations.
I am always awkward when receiving compliments, so it was a little uncomfortable to be in front of this large audience – hundreds – Diamond Honorees from the past 15 years and their colleagues ands friends. Listening to the praise being given to me in their presence made me want to look down, look away, look out – and get out! I stayed.
Afterwards, I had to work hard to respond to the gratitude with “thank you.” Period. Change my default setting to a simple Thank You. No explaining, qualifying or rationalizing the recognition. I know my contribution is multiplied by the teams who support me, enhanced by who I get to work with and built by the opportunities placed in my way. AND tonight it was OK to say Thank You and receive the joy and pride from friends.
Belief in ourselves and our contributions does not need an award. Nor do we what we do in order to get a formal honor. I think the best part is the belief in knowing we will have the chance to pay this forward.
Have a Nothing New Day! ~ Kristin