ACPA NextGen: My Experience as an Undergraduate Venturing Into Student Affairs by Morgan Ruebusch

Hello everyone! My name is Morgan Ruebusch. I am a junior at the University of Kentucky (Go Cats!) studying Secondary Social Studies Education with a plan to go into a student affairs masters program. I am currently rounding out my second year serving as a Resident Advisor. I’ve been involved in residence life since about my fifth week of freshman year. I saw an ad for a floor representative position in the Resident Student Association and decided to go for it. My RSA involvement soon led into me attending conferences like the South Atlantic Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls (SAACURH) and the Kentucky Association of Residence Halls (KARH). I found a niche on a large campus and I couldn’t have been more thankful for the friends I made that first year. Residence Life has been my biggest dive into student affairs on my campus for sure, so when I heard of the opportunity to attend ACPA’s Next Generation Conference this year I thought it sounded like a great opportunity for me.

Like most of the undergraduate students that I got to know at ACPA this year I was introduced to the idea of a career in student affairs by a mentor of mine. Amanda was my Resident Director during my first year as an RA. She led with confidence and had a desire to help all of the residents in our building, while also remaining a role model to my fellow RA’s and I. Amanda wasn’t afraid to talk about the rough situations that any of us were going through and was constantly available to listen to our personal and professional problems. Amanda’s job seemed to combine all of the aspects I wanted from a position, so when she approached me about considering a future in student affairs it seemed like the next logical move.

I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship from the Commission for Housing and Residential Life to help me attend NextGen this year. I also had an extremely supportive foundation in our Office of Residence Life here at UK to fund both my lodging and travel, once again speaking to the commitment I’ve seen from housing and residence life professionals. I can honestly say that without this funding making my way to Tampa for ACPA would have been impossible and I wouldn’t have learned all that I know now.

I went into the conference expecting to learn about graduate programs and meet some other people with the same aspirations as me, but what I gained was so much more than that.

 

It was so clear that the committee running the NextGen Conference was excited to meet us and genuinely cared about helping us blaze our own trails in the profession. From the first sessions the focus was so much bigger than just trying to convince us to go to a master’s program. We heard speakers who talked about how to identify our personal values and how those could help us in the future. We had sessions where we listened to distinguished professors and authors tell us about their stories and prove that student affairs is a diverse field with even more diverse professionals. We were also encouraged to get to know the other undergraduate students attending the conference with us. This group was presented to us our own little cohort. These would be the peers who would be with us through our years to come in student affairs and in ACPA. The most interesting aspect to me was that at my table of ten students eight of us were at ACPA because of our involvement in residence life and housing at our own schools.

So many of the other undergraduate students had such similar stories to mine too. They found their niches in residence life and had a mentor that was devoted to developing the next generation. It is much clearer to me now that not only is student affairs the profession for me, but also my experiences in residence life is going to be my biggest asset going forward. I recently had the opportunity to meet with the housing directors from all of the SEC schools and asked them why housing was the best option for a young professional. Their responses included that housing was a profession with constant growth and that networking made promotions in the field an easier achievement. The best explanation for why I should pursue housing came from Mr. Troy Seppelt though. His response to my question was for me to name for him what position on campus has the most daily interactions with students. My response was that those professionals who work in residence life see hundreds of students each and every day. That means that they have the opportunity to reach out to students who need support, to be a role model for students who are struggling, and to provide a community for students who may be far away from home. For me, that’s exactly what I have experienced as both a student and staff member at the University of Kentucky. Why wouldn’t I want to have that same positive impact in my career?

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