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Keynote Panel with Graduate Students

The graduate students of Florida State University’s Higher Education Administration and Student Affairs program received the opportunity tonight to speak with Dr. Alexander Astin, Dr. Shaun Harper, Dr. Will Barratt, and Clare Cady. In a panel style discussion, master and doctoral students were able to ask each of the keynote speakers questions over pizza and refreshments. Ali Raza, a graduate student working with the Hardee Center at Florida State University, moderated the discussion. Questions ranged from personal experiences of working with students to advice on improving current student affairs practices.

One of the many thought provoking question posed asked: “how do you get through the frustrations of injustices and stay motivated to continue your work in higher education?” Dr. Harper paused for a moment of reflection and began to answer. He discussed how he cannot afford to become overwhelmed by injustices. Historically, slaves, civil right activists, and other influential figures did not lose motivation in times of hardship. He went on to talk about personal wellness and how he sets clear boundaries to maintain motivation and resiliency in his work such as not writing on weekends or weeknights. Dr. Harper uses this time watching TV, going to church, concerts, and enjoying life with his partner.

Dr. Astin answered the question from a different perspective. He challenged the students to realize everyone is capable of creating long term change. For instance, dilemmas that higher education faces today were far more problematic 50 years ago. Reflecting on experiences from his college days, Dr. Astin explained that there have been profound changes regarding women’s role in higher education. Looking at the long term benefits of perseverance outweigh short term frustrations.

An additional question presented to the panelist asked for their opinions on how they contribute to the quality of higher education. Clare Cady began by stating she was unsure if she contributed to the quality of higher education, but she described the pride she feels when preparing a student to leave college with the ability to articulate their accomplishments, beliefs, and goals. Dr. Harper and Dr. Astin similarly responded by claiming various teaching opportunities inside and outside the classroom is how they contribute to the quality of education.

Tomorrow will conclude the 2015 Jon C. Dalton Institute on College Student Values. We look forward to hearing from the final keynote speaker, Dr. Andrew Seligsohn and the closing panel titled, “Reflections on Next Steps to Minimizing Inequalities.”