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Student Affairs Personal Philosophy Statement

Jon’Paul Montgomery

EDL 676
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Student Affairs Personal Philosophy Statement

Introduction

“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it from you” – B.B. King. This

quote is an important quote for me in discovering what my own Student Affairs Personal

Philosophy is. To me, knowledge is power. Knowledge has allowed me to be successful.

Knowledge has provided so many opportunities. As a student affairs (SA) professional, I want to

help students be successful on their own knowledge journey. One of the most influential factors

affecting student’s persistence and retention is feeling a sense of belonging at an institution.

Providing the space for this to happen, for students to feel important and that they truly belong is

of the upmost priority to me. Students are my priority and I believe in centering my work around

them and their needs. In order for this to happen I need to make sure that I am providing an

inclusive environment, be approachable, relatable and accessible, commit to the holistic

development of the student, and provide opportunities for students to take control of their own

learning and growth.

Inclusive Environment

As colleges and universities become more and more diverse it is important for the

administration to recognize the growing needs of those students. In order for all students to feel

welcomed, inclusion must be at the forefront of every decision, action, word, task, plan, etc. I do

as a SA professional. While it may be very challenging to fight against huge systems of

oppression, I can very easily be in charge of what I do in my sphere of influence. Creating an

inclusive environment is also more than just saying that I have made an inclusive environment. It

must be supported with action and proper reaction to incidents of bias. Some simple actions I
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plan on implementing include providing professional development on diversity for my peers and

supervisees, and to continue to never stop learning about diversity myself or how to be more

inclusive. I also recognize that I hold many privileged identities that could be used to advocate

for those holding marginalized identities. It is important to me for inclusion to be at the forefront

of my work in student affairs so that every student feels safe and welcome at their university.

Approachable, Relatable, Accessible

Stemming from my own undergraduate experience, I truly felt at home when SA

professionals were easily approachable, could relate to my own issues, and accessible during

times of distress or triumph. I looked to them as advisors, mentors and future colleagues. The

constant support by those SA professionals through all stages of college really made me feel

important and like I mattered to someone. I want to do the same for the students in my purview. I

deeply enjoy my time with students and so I want to be seen as approachable, relatable, and

accessible to them so that they feel the same support I did during undergrad. Actions I can take

to make sure my students see me this way it to simply be present, always extend offers to meet

and discuss anything, get to know my students, look for opportunities students would be

interested in, and meet students where they are (developmentally, physically, etc.). I can not

solve problems students have if they do not tell, so I must be approachable and accessible to that

students feel safe in confiding in me. I also want to show support for the achievements and

accomplishments of students and to celebrate the good that happens. Being approachable,

relatable, and accessible also means that I have to be vulnerable which encourages those around

me to also be vulnerable. By being honest about my own challenges and triumph, I can hopefully

impact those around me to learn from my mistakes or be inspired by the things I have overcome.
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Holistic Development

My liberal arts education has challenged me to think for myself and understand how I

want to be in the world around me. Much of my learning happened outside the classroom and I

owe it to the SA professionals who impacted me. My goal is to allow students the same

opportunity to grow as a person, student and professional during their time at college. Step one in

this process is recognizing where students are in their own development. Then I will provide

catered opportunities for growth or development in areas either I see they could use training on

or that the students are interested in. Such trainings could be around diversity and inclusion,

time-management, effective program planning, etc. Ultimately, my goal is to help students be

successful not only during college, but to be able to apply these transferable skills to whatever

path they choose post-graduation as well as be contributing members of society.

Provide Opportunities

I am who I am today because of the amazing opportunities afforded to me during

undergrad. By providing opportunities for my students, it achieves several goals. Firstly,

different opportunities allow students to work with other students from different walks of life

than them. Secondly, it allows students to partake in experiences they might have little to no

familiarity in and gain skills to promote to future employers. Thirdly, it teaches students

responsibility and time-management skills by adding work on top of their academics. It also a

part of my philosophy to give opportunities to students who might not be the best candidate for

the role but would most benefit from being in that role. By providing opportunities, students can

take control of their learning and apply themselves to their areas of interest.
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Conclusion

My Student Affairs Personal Philosophy centers students and their time at a college or

university. If their needs aren’t being met or they don’t feel like they belong, I am not doing my

job or following my philosophy. I am charging myself to constantly think about how my

philosophy is being implemented in my day-to-day tasks and reflect on the true impact of my

actions as a student affairs professional. If I can create an inclusive environment, where students

feel as though I am approachable, relatable and accessible, where I value their holistic growth

and provide opportunities for them to grow, I believe that I will have a positive impact on every

student I encounter. I want students to feel welcomed, like they belong and like they are

important to someone on campus. As I begin my professional career, this philosophy statement

will drive and motivate me to be the best I can in creating a positive experience for college

students.