How do students make sure they are bridging what they are learning academically to what they need/want in their personal lives? That is one HUGE question to answer. That is what I was tasked with this year to assist with. At the beginning of the Fall 2020 semester at the University of Northern Iowa, I was offered a new role within the Sigma Phi Epsilon Chapter as their Resident Scholar/Intern. As a student affairs pre-professional, I knew that I had the passion and knowledge to provide this chapter with a new experience that would allow them to grow as students and as individuals. This was a position that had never been done before. This meant that I had a blank slate for what I was going to do and what I did would set the path for future interns. I talked with my Vice President of the Learning Community, Caleb Gipple, and my advisor, Bart Frederick, to discuss what they saw for this position. We came up with a few ideas but they really let me run with whatever I came up with. During the second semester, I was able to work closely with Will Heaton, the second Vice President of the Learning Community to continue to grow the programming. These two VPs were phenomenal at providing programming in this area that also paired well with what I was doing. They both had their own strengths and that was shown through the programming they held.
Kristin served as our Resident Intern from Fall 2020 – Spring 2021!
As someone who had never been involved in fraternity life, I spent the first few weeks getting acclimated to the way this group ran. I started to attend meetings on Sunday nights to learn more about this group. I started to meet with a few of them one-on-one and as new brothers joined, I met with them to discuss academic, personal and chapter goals. We discussed the importance of academics but also the balance of personal life and getting involved in other student organizations. I started the Academic Strategies Course during the Fall 2020 semester (you can find the full list at the bottom of this post) to provide courses on a variety of topics. I chose these topics after surveying the chapter to see what they would be interested in learning more about or working on, as well as what I believe is important for college students to work on. I would allow the members to also meet with me one-on-one if they were unable to attend the course time or if they simply wanted to talk more about something specific.
In my opinion, the two best courses that were held were the Registration Prep/Stress Relief night and the Grocery Shopping on a Budget night. We started the stress relief night by briefly discussing when registration opened, how they could find their class information, and what to look for when registering. The rest of the time was spent painting. You read that right. Painting. I bought paint, brushes and canvases for the brothers to paint whatever they wanted. It was an event that I was set on doing, hoping that the brothers would enjoy it. To my surprise, they did enjoy it! The second course was Grocery Shopping on a Budget. This course was meant to help the brothers work on planning meals for the week as well as learn about the Panther Pantry on the UNI campus. Brothers were able to go to the store, buy groceries and donate what they purchased to the pantry. They ended up donating 52 pounds of necessities to the pantry. These were only two of the many courses that were done during the last academic year.
This was one of the best experiences I had during my graduate program here at UNI. I appreciate these brothers and the way they welcomed me into this Chapter. This past year, I was not only there for them, but they taught me so much about myself and who I wanted to be. I cannot thank the Chapter and the Mentor Volunteer Board (MVB) for their assistance in making this position possible. I look forward to seeing where these brothers go in the future.