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HEAD: Areas of Growth

Learning Outcome Narrative: Areas of Growth

Nicolas Lee

Seattle University
Areas of Growth 1

Learning Outcomes Narrative: Areas of Growth

(LO #1, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10; Artifacts A, B, C1, C2, E, F)

As my time in the Student Development Administration program ends, I have been able

to reflect on who I am and where I started. I came into the program unsure of who I was as a

professional and what that meant. I knew what I valued but I wanted to explore and establish

myself as I looked to serve students. In this program, I have been able to learn about myself and

develop my own Professional Identity. There are three major sub-themes that define my

journey. Those three sub-themes are my Long Term Professional Goals, Understanding

myself as an Institutional Agent, and Engaging with the field and other Professionals.

Long Term Professional Goals (LO# 1, 7, 10; Artifacts A, B, E, F)

One major reason I chose to apply to graduate school was that I wanted space, resources,

and time to reflect on what my Long Term Professional Goals were. From my past work in

College Access, I knew I wanted to serve and support students. However, I didn’t think or know

if there was a field that held that same goal and when I learned of the SDA program, I realized

that there were folks who also had that same goal. This is what sparked my growth in LO #1. I

have learned that to be successful in Student Affairs, it’s important to engage with other Student

Affairs professionals, stay current on the major trends and issues in Higher Education, and

connect my values of diversity and inclusion to the Student Affairs field. When I first did my own

personal assessment using the NASPA/ACPA Competencies (Artifact E), I knew that I needed

experience in a college setting to understand how my values fit in a different educational

environment. In line with Chickering’s (1969) Seven Vectors, I used my time in my graduate

studies to reflect on “sense of self in a social, historical, and cultural context” and personalize my

values (p. 260). What I struggled with the most was how to take values like diversity and

inclusion that I hold and apply them to this new setting. Higher Education is an institution built
Areas of Growth 2

to maintain white supremacy and to be in such an environment as well as be a representative of

this was difficult for me. By taking the time to understand this new environment, I have been

able to develop my practice to center inclusion and diversity in my work and center student

experiences. By utilizing Higher Education as a tool and place to uphold these values, I have

been able to create opportunities for students to share their experiences and explore their own

identities. As shown in my Resume (Artifact A), one example of this is through my work in the

Office of Multicultural Affairs. By holding monthly dialogue series (OMA Speaks) to engage

students in critical conversation, I have been able to utilize my office as a space for

conversations on issues around diversity and inclusion, such as the SU Drag Show controversy in

April 2018. By giving students the space to understand their feelings, I was able to facilitate

dialogue that was cathartic and meaningful, while also being critical of higher education and the

ways that SU must change for LGBTQ students.

One important step I took in learning how to express that identity is becoming active in

different aspects of Student Affairs and finding opportunities to learn and grow as an individual.

As part of LO #7, I looked to become part of the research community, build my own confidence

as a researcher, and understand my future intentions and goals in research. These aspects I

developed in my second year through conducting research with Dr. Nguyen. By attending the

Association of the Study of Higher Education’s (ASHE) National Conference I was able to

connect with different researchers and scholars and see Student Affairs through a different lens

focused on research. This was another space that I felt uncomfortable at first to be in as

Academia can be a competitive and negative space at times. However, because of the support

from Dr. Nguyen, Dr. Yamamura, as well as support from mentors, I have been able to

understand my place and purpose in academia and understand my own intentions in engaging in
Areas of Growth 3

research. As I graduate from the program, using my 3-year Professional Development and

Action Plan (Artifact F), I have made it a priority to continue to define my intentions and seek

opportunities to continue learn and understand where my future educational goals may lie.

As I am developing my long-term goals, in order to have a strong base for my 3-Year

plan, I need to think deeper about my own Professional Identity and my professional journey. In

line with LO #10, I realized that I need to reflect on how my personal identity intertwines with

my professional identity, continuing to learn and understand how new knowledge relates to my

identity, and create a plan to accomplish those long term goals. As I look to incorporate these

aspects into my own professional identity, I need to start with myself and be honest with what I

have been capable of and what has been right for me. Looking at my Personal Mission

Statement (Artifact B), I found it was clear that I wanted to support and center student voices

first and foremost. By grounding myself with Critical Race Theory (Delgado & Stefancic, 2001),

I have been able to think about the ways I need to grow as a professional so that I can continue to

center the voices of people of color and marginalized communities and continue to practice being

critical of the systems that exist in our society. As a gay, multiracial, Chinese American, I will

remind myself to speak up for my own growth and challenge myself to voice my own

experiences so that I can not only be a model for students but I can actively adapt my practice to

students and center their experiences in my work. As I go forward, I will look for opportunities

to continue this growth and seek opportunities that will further develop my sense of identity.

Understanding Myself as an Institutional Agent (LO #3, 9, 10; Artifacts C1, C2, F)

As I develop my professional identity, one of the biggest struggles and tensions that I

have held is my relationship and responsibility as an institutional agent and the ways that I

represent the university and myself. In this regard, when looking at LO #10, I have had to learn
Areas of Growth 4

my responsibility to the institution I work for, balance my own values with the institution’s, and

fully understand what it means to have integrity. I have always had difficulties in the past

balancing student needs and the policies that an institution maintains. As I’ve shared, students

are the center of my practice and my values. When I have come across instances where the

institutional responsibility I have conflicts with my own practice and values, it has been difficult

to balance the two. When thinking about the privileges that come with being employed at a

college or university, being the metaphoric gatekeeper to a student’s education is a responsibility

and privilege that I have realized in my past roles. I was able to practice this skill in writing my

Devil’s Advocate Paper (Artifact C1) to take an issue and argue for an opposing viewpoint that

I didn’t agree with. I was able to articulate the need to address such issues while balancing the

institutional capabilities that exist on different colleges and universities to provide the space and

resources for students to understand and express their needs. As an institutional agent, I know I

can’t take for granted the responsibility I have to students. I saw this firsthand in my Preview

Days internship. There was a student who requested that they bring a family member to the first

day. The professional staff were not receptive initially and emphasized this program is for the

student and not for outside guests. I felt conflicted because the social and familial capital that

students bring are important tools when making a huge life decision like applying to Graduate

school, but the institution and institutional agents made it clear that this was a hindrance rather

than an asset (Yosso, 2005). This situation reaffirmed for me the importance of keeping students

centered and finding ways to balance the resources and ability of an institution to meet the needs

of marginalized students.

Another area of growth that I have been able to develop is my understanding of the

institutional relationships and governance of the institutions that I have worked at. My place in
Areas of Growth 5

an institution has also been a factor in balancing being an institutional agent and my own

personal values. When thinking about the institutional impact on students, Chickering &

Reisser’s (1993) Seven Educational Environmental Key Influences helps to ground how the

institution and it’s governance plays an important factor in shaping a students’ education and

development. Specifically, looking at Institutional Objectives as an influencer has put into

perspective the ways I need to be aware of my place and responsibility as an institutional agent.

By looking at LO #9, I have looked to become familiar with institutional policies, actively

provide feedback on these policies when possible, and understanding the full impact that an

institutional setting has. With theories like Chickering & Reisser’s, I have been able to look into

the nuance of an institution and acknowledge the complex ways that institutions look to serve

students even if the immediate policy doesn’t outwardly show that. To make sure that I continue

to uphold this, I have made it a priority with in my 3-Year Professional Development and

Action plan (Artifact F) to review the policies of the institution I choose to work at so that I can

develop this skill and set myself up to be successful in the future.

In regards to the third stage of Pope’s model, Multicultural Skills, this is showcased

through my growth within LO #3 (Pope, 2004). To be an ethical leader and show professional

integrity in my work, I have realized that I must uphold a responsibility to serving others, speak

out against injustice, and educate others on understanding these same injustices. I know that if I

want to see true change and uphold inclusion and diversity, it is my ethical responsibility as a

professional to speak up and out against these injustices. If I want to maintain my integrity and

truly uphold my values, I must be active in challenging those who look to maintain the status

quo. One example of this is through my work on questioning whiteness. In my Critical Issues

Paper (Artifact C2), I took this as an opportunity to discuss whiteness in detail and how it
Areas of Growth 6

related to a college campus and students. This paper was motivated by my work in my

assistantship where I created a dialogue series in collaboration with students on campus to

explore how whiteness is part of our everyday lives. We held a series of workshops to engage

people in understanding how whiteness creates social norms and a culture of policing of people

of color that maintains whiteness and white supremacy. In this way, I was able to provide the

space and opportunity for those to ask questions and learn from each other on ways to develop

skills and share knowledge on dismantling social barriers rooted in white supremacy.

Engaging with the field and other Professionals. (LO #8; Artifacts C1)

One important tool to work with others is communication and balancing tact with

directness. As someone who values change, I have learned how to balance these two and hold

firm on my values and beliefs and still challenging others in respectful ways to create change and

move forward. Specifically, with LO #8, I want to make sure I initiate connection with others,

have a digital presence with new forms of communication, and use open forums for feedback

wisely and respectfully. These three dimensions of the learning outcome are some of the major

ways I have grown in this program. The balance of tact and directness has been a hard skill to

learn. However, through my coursework, I have had avenues to practice these skills and learn

how to hold my own values and effectively communicate with others. Specifically, with my

Devil’s Advocate Paper (Artifact C1), I was able to take an important topic and viewpoint of

mine and express it in ways that were respectful and still honored my own viewpoint. As an

exercise, I got to examine my own feelings and reflect on my larger goal. I knew if I could focus

on the task at hand, I would be successful in this paper. With exercises like this, I am able to

examine my feelings and hold them in a way that doesn’t cloud my judgment and allows me to

see the end goal.

Areas of Growth 7


Delgado, R. & Stefancic, J. (2001). Critical race theory: An introduction. New York, NY: New

York University Press. Chp. 1 & 2, p. 1-12, 15-32.

Patton, L. D., Renn, K.A, Guido,F. M., & Quaye, S. J. (2016). Student development in college:

Theory, research, and practice. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Pope, R.L., Reynolds, A.L., & Mueller, J.A. (2004). Multicultural competence in student affairs.

San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Yosso, T. J. (2005). Whose culture is capital? A critical race discussion of community

cultural wealth. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69-91.

doi: 10.1080/1361332052000341006