Carving Your Path in 2017 by Steven Knepp


I have, up until recently, thought about my future within the context of employment. Location. Title. Pay. Job Responsibilities. However, it wasn’t until recently that I began thinking about my future through a new lens.

What do I want to be known for in Student Affairs and Higher Education? What is my legacy? As we enter into a new calendar year, 2017 may be the perfect opportunity to think about your legacy!


Perhaps it was a professional existential crisis, but I came to realize that I no longer want to be a doer.

Personally, it is no longer acceptable for me to just do my job and do it really well.


Often, people don’t get promoted because they do a good job. To excel from an entry-level position to a mid-level position and beyond, I need to continue to do my job well and find a specific skill that sets me apart from my peers because let’s be honest, we are all overachievers!

I have been with my current institution for the last five years and in that time I have “fixed” or improved many things including processes, systems, and relationships. I am proud to say that I am good at it. It was through these experiences that I have become very interested in organizational development and change. During last winter break, I came across a business and engineering thing called Lean Six Sigma. It sounded very foreign to me, yet I became instantly intrigued. One day I saw a posting through our College of Engineering offering this very certification. After getting the proper approvals, taking the online course, and passing the certificate exam, I am now more certain than ever that this is my calling. My hope is to be able to expand on this newly minted certificate and carve my niche in Student Affairs and Higher Education.

Below are some questions I had to internally answer to help me find my purpose, and set me apart from my peers.

  • What is one thing that comes very natural to me?
  • Why does it come natural to me?
  • Do I do this thing as part of my job? Can I do this as part of my job?
  • Is there a need for this in higher education? Why? Is it institutional specific or a nation-wide need?
  • Can I become an expert in this area? If so, what steps do I need to take?
  • Who currently does this and can they be my mentor?

There is no clear cut timeline to finding your purpose. In fact, it may take more or less time of reflection and mentorship to figure it out. It has taken me almost eight years of post-masters experience to figure it out. Now that I know what I want to do, I have taken steps to move forward.

What is your calling?


img_2297Steven Knepp is an Associate Director for Housing and Residential Programs at Millersville University. He has spent the last 9 years working to ensure all students have a great college experience both in and out of the classroom. His professional interests include leadership, programming, organizational development, and process/systems improvement in higher education. Outside of work Steve enjoys spending time outdoors playing golf, and spending as much time as possible with his wife, Courtney. Steve is an avid Phillies fan and wants to one day compete on a Food Network game show.


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