Michelle Williams is a first-year student in the CSSA program from Athens, OH. She is currently the GTA for Community Outreach in the Office of the Dean of Student Life.


I know people have talked about the NASPA conference in the past, so I wanted to talk a little about the Region 8 NACADA conference that I attended over spring break in Vancouver, British Columbia.  NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising is a great organization to be part of for those interested in academic advising or academic support services (like I am!).

I took the 11 hour bus/train combo to Vancouver on Wednesday of finals week, so I had Thursday morning to enjoy the city before my first pre-conference session.  I allowed Yelp to guide me for breakfast, which was my first experience with banitza (pictured), a traditional Bulgarian egg and cheese filled filo pastry (it was delicious!).   The weather was perfect on Thursday, so I had a leisurely breakfast outside followed by a walk through Stanley Park and along the seawall before heading to the conference.

Out of the conference sessions that I attended, I had three favorites.  One was a pre-conference session that won 2013 Best in Region 8, Does Happiness Matter?  Applying Positive Psychology to Advising, by Teri Duever, an advisor here at Oregon State (OSU).  Teri talked about the benefits of PERMA, Positive emotions, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning and purpose, and Accomplishments, and how we can both adopt a lifestyle that fosters these things as well as encourage students to do the same.

Another of my favorite sessions was How to Lead Underserved Students Up the Ivory Tower: Promoting Student-Faculty Interaction, by Sharon Ericsson and Angie Klimko of Washington State University (WSU).  This session was about the Critical Literacies Achievement and Success Program (CLASP) at WSU.  The CLASP program was created to help support underrepresented students at the beginning of their college experience.  It is a collaboration between the English department and a variety of support programs on campus such as Student Support Services and Multicultural Student Services, and the program helps students to improve their writing, learn the skills to navigate the university, and regularly connect with faculty.  It also includes extensive training for the instructors of the English course and uses inclusive pedagogies in the classroom.  I found CLASP to be a great way to support students by working with faculty to foster better relationships between students and their instructors, and I’m really interested to see how and where this program goes in the future.  You can learn more about it on their website (http://clasp.wsu.edu/) (watch the videos to get a better sense of it!).

Another great session that I attended won this year’s Best in Region 8.  It was Advising Students on Developing Resiliency as a Strategy for Academic Success, by two advisors at OSU, Kerry Thomas and Nova Schauss.  Their session focused on the research around resiliency, protective factors, flourishing, fixed vs. growth mindset, thriving, and grit, and how we can use these concepts in advising.  I’m really excited about this research, and I’m hoping to create a reading and conference course sometime next year to really delve into these different concepts.

Although conferences can be overwhelming, and trying to get to them in the middle of school and work can be difficult, I have really enjoyed the ones that I have been able to attend and encourage others to do the same when they are able (plus, as a student, the membership fee and conference prices are lower than they will be later!).  My trip to Vancouver and attendance at the NACADA conference were both personally and professionally rewarding, and I look forward to future conferences!


Banitza, traditional Bulgarian egg and cheese filled filo pastry

2 3

Vancouver, BC


Happy spring term CSSA community!  Tis the season of defenses, mid-program reviews and many celebrations!  Each of the programs’ weekly emails will include a list of upcoming defenses for second and third year students.  As we move through the term, we are very much looking forward to celebrating the successes of the community.
Tom and Kim
CSSA Co-Coordinators

Claudia Davila is a first-year student within the CSSA program. She is currently the GTA for the Women’s Center.


What is the first thing or group of people that comes to mind when you hear the word “immigration”? Be honest. In the past, when I would hear the word immigration or immigrants, what came to my mind were Mexicans. I never stopped to think about why that was especially knowing Mexicans are not the only immigrants who make up this country. Yet, it seems as if every time the subject of immigration and/or immigration reform is mentioned in the media, a connection is always made with Mexicans that it’s seriously impossible to think about one without thinking about the other. We tend to forget that not all immigrants in the U.S. are from Mexico because it’s very uncommon to hear the media talk about immigrants from anywhere other than Mexico.

In Chimamanda Adichie’s Ted talk: The Danger of a Single Story, she expresses just how easily influenced and vulnerable we are in the face of a story. Adichie explains that when you show a people as one thing over and over again, that is what they become (Ted Talks).

Within my CSSA program and courses I chose to take as an undergrad, I have been able to learn more about what I like to refer to as the “blind injustices” within our American societies. I refer to them as “blind injustices” because they are situations or actions that are and have been silently creeping into our media outlets that feed into the stereotypes of group populations they want us to believe are true. This is brainwashing at its best; plain and simple.

It is so important for students such as myself, to share what I have been learning, with my peers, friends and family. Chimamanda Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story” brings to light a very powerful message that we all could benefit from watching. If you haven’t watched it yet, I hope you take the time to do so.



Sharece Bunn is a first-year CSSA student from Dayton, OR, specializing in education abroad.

Twitter: @sharecembunn


I’m a teacher. I’m also a student. I’m not talking about being a CSSA grad student, though I am one. What I’m talking about refers to my assistantship at the Academic Success Center. As part of my assistantship, I teach ALS 116, a class about student success. To get ready to teach each class, I have to read up on study skills that include reading strategies, motivation, note-taking, and goal setting. The thing I’ve noticed about this is that although the class is geared to help first year students learn skills to help them succeed in higher ed, everything I teach can be practically applied to my life as a grad student as well as my job and future career. I love this. I also love the things I learn from my students. No matter what day it is, I can be pretty sure that I’ll learn something new about what the younger generation is doing these days.

I mention the younger generation because recently, I’ve realized that to the students I teach, I am old. I was born more than 10 years before most of them were born. When I talk about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I’m talking about the “nice” turtles whereas the turtles they grew up with had the angry faces (You may be able to relate this concept to the Beaver logo debate among OSU fans). When it comes to music, I’m way behind the popular thing. I recognize that the students I work with have a different sort of music and that the music they listen to might be influencing a whole new perspective and take on life. They’ve grown up in a world where the Internet has always been a thing and 35 mm cameras were already vintage. I suppose I can appreciate this even though I know what it was like to use a library card catalogue to find books to read and do research.

But comparing then and now really doesn’t matter. What matters is the learning that takes place when people from different generations get together and nerd out about academics. When I teach, I am constantly required to challenge myself and my way of thinking. I realize that I don’t know everything and that it’s ok to learn and search for answers. In fact, that inquiry is essential to my happiness and success in the classroom.

One of the benefits to the CSSA program is that we have the opportunity to teach in different internships around campus. Those internships are priceless. The things we can learn from the students we work with couldn’t be created in another format. There’s something about teaching that allows us to be continual learners. Personally, I’m thrilled that I’ve had the chance to work at the ASC and teach ALS 116 this year. Not only has it helped me assess my own study habits and study skills, it has helped me understand the confusion and difficulties our students have in their classes and in their lives here at OSU. And it allows me to be in a space where I can teach them to work through and think about the things that are helping or hindering them in their experiences. If any of you are looking for a chance to teach and learn in an incredibly positive environment, I suggest you check out ALS 116.



Daniel Newhart is the Director of Student Affairs Research, Evaluation, and Planning at Oregon State University. He is the one of our distinguished faculty members and our faculty voice for this week. Daniel currently teaches AHE 513: Research and Assessment.

LinkedIn    Twitter: @danielwnewhart


The best way to start this piece is with an analogy given recently by Shaun Harper at the NASPA regional conference. Shaun addressed a crowd of student affairs educators (yes, educators, that’s us!), making the case that we should be current on our scholarship in the field to best meet our student’s needs. To drive this point home, he talked about a hypothetical situation in which you go to the doctor for something that may be ailing you.


Here is that conversation, in a nutshell:

Hypothetical us: “Hi doctor. I’ve got [insert issue]. What do you think might be ailing me currently?

Doctor: “Well, the last time I read up on the medical research was during my training back in medical school.”

Hypothetical us: “So you’re saying you haven’t led the latest research on [insert issue?]”

Doctor: “I’ve been practicing for years, sure, but…”

Hypothetical us: (says nothing as we run for the door faster than our confidence in our health care provider disappears).


You can see Shaun’s point here: as student affairs educators, to best meet our student’s needs – we need to keep up on the scholarship in our field. Admittedly, this is quite hard to do when we’re not in graduate school (and even sometimes we struggle with completing the readings done IN graduate school…), but we owe it to our students to be up to date on what is happening in our field so we can be sensitive to emerging challenges that our students might face.


The beauty, however, is that technology can help us with this immensely. As libraries get more digital and technological applications become more integrated, there are more systems that we can utilize to help us with this. Since we’re on the internet (say, reading blogs) a lot anyway…


For example, the table of contents alert system allows you to keep up to date on new journal publications in your journals of choice using an RSS reader that can work with whatever browser you might currently use.

Publications that our field generally pays attention to are the Journal of College Student Development, the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice, the Journal of Higher Education and the Review of Higher Education (this is by no means an exhaustive list).


Some student affairs educators use their twitter accounts (mine is an example) to push out new research and issue in higher education into the field, using appropriate hashtags for the issue at hand. The side benefit is that this provides a record of research that you have found interesting and/or pertinent to your job duties. The other side benefit is if you ever have to write a grant, publication, or report, these publications are all in one place. Tweet deck even allows you to create custom hashtag searches for areas of your interest, and keep them all running on one screen within your browser window.


Speaking of storage, the Oregon State Library system provides a page exclusively dedicated to keeping current with research. They also provide workshops in which you, as a student, can attend for free about different types of software to store your references that you may one day need.


Keeping up to date with the literature has helped me immensely in my own practice in Student Affairs Research, Evaluation and Planning. My office generally works with each office within Student Affairs, so knowing the research in such a way to help guide conversations around assessment has helped me engage other practitioners where they are, and provides a starting point for conversations about what to assess and why.  Knowing the research in your own field and interest area, and keeping updated, will allow you to contribute helpfully to conversations in student affairs, as not only a practitioner, but also a scholar.


And, at some point, once you learn enough, you just might want to publish. Practitioners can, and should, publish too, as we have a lot to say. But that’s for another blog post.



Ruth Sterner is the First-Year Coordinator of New Student Programs & Family Outreach at Oregon State University. She is an alumni of the College Student Services Administration Program of 2009.


My name is Ruth Sterner. I have an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado-Boulder. My assistantship is with Student Conduct and in 10 years I’d like to be the Dean of a… oh wait, this isn’t my introduction to every CSSA class I ever took, it’s a blog post. Silly me, I forgot. Then again with all the introductions that happen in Student Affairs committees, taskforces, and conferences it’s helpful to have a solid intro on hand. Hmmm…  I didn’t envision throwing out advice so soon, but there you have it your first words of wisdom from me: keep an elevator speech about you and your professional and personal interests handy at all times and revise it as you evolve. You never know when an opportunity might come your way because you were able to encapsulate your interests and skills into a simple “Hello I am…” statement. Today my elevator speech reads something along the lines of “My name is Ruth Sterner. I work as the First-Year Experience Coordinator within the New Student Programs and Family Outreach office at Oregon State University. My professional interests include first-year experience course design and assessment, student mentoring programs, and academic early alert initiatives. In my free time I am usually hiking, biking, reading or sipping tea”.

Why do you care that I hike or sip tea? Heck you probably don’t; unless you want to know about trails (Chip Ross Park and Lewisburg Saddle) or places to grab tea (Oregon Coffee and Tea) and you might not think it makes much sense to tell colleagues this stuff either. However, in my experience it is the personal relationships I’ve built with colleagues that have and continue to sustain me in the student affairs profession. My career path thus far has been rough and I know I’m not alone in this arena.  At many points I’ve felt underappreciated, overworked, underpaid, underutilized, over qualified, and thoroughly exhausted, sometimes all within one day. And there’s no one better to listen and empathize with than a colleague who’s been there, felt that way too, and knows me well enough to suggest a hike or cup of tea. Yes it takes time out of already busy schedules to cultivate deeper relationships with people so start small- one or two key connections can make all the difference.

My last piece of advice is very simple: don’t think you or anyone else has it “all figured out”. I’m still trying to decide exactly what I want to do when I “grow up”, still struggle with solidifying my professional identity and holding to my deepest values. All I can recommend is being honest with yourself and others about where you are at and if they are worth their salt as student affairs professionals, they’ll meet you there!



Claudia Davila is a first-year CSSA student and is currently the Social Media Lead for the College Student Services Administration Program. She is a Corvallis native and has an assistantship with the Women’s Center.


Oregon State University is the heart of Corvallis. Much of the excitement and attractions around this town tend to cater toward the traditional college students attending OSU. Most often than not, students with families have a difficult time finding things to do around town.

The great thing about Corvallis, however, is you don’t need to hop on a plane to visit family oriented destinations. Whether you are looking into a day or weekend trip, you will find no shortage not too far from Corvallis.

For me, a day trip to the coast has always been a favorite. Sitting a little over an hour away west of Corvallis are the coast towns of Waldport and Newport. As a child, I used to love visiting the Undersea Gardens and the Devil’s Punch Bowl; hanging out on the beach for hours waiting for the tide to subside so that we could start our search for treasures in the tide pools. After a long day by the water, we’d head over to eat at the famous Mo’s. If you’re looking for some great clam chowder; this is where it’s at!

Nowadays there are so many other things to do in these coastal communities. While the Undersea Gardens and Devils Punch Bowl are still popular attractions; the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Seafood & Wine Festivals bring in visitors from all over too. If you’re looking for some great shopping, all you have to do is head ½ hour North of Newport to Lincoln City where you will find the Tanger Outlets. I have to say I have always found better deals here than at any other outlet mall in Oregon. Lincoln City is also home to Chinook Winds Casino which on many weekends, you can find great music entertainment as well as comedy shows! If you decide to extend your day trip into a weekend trip, there is plenty of lodging. My personal favorite place to stay is the Ashley Inn. While it’s not ocean front; they do offer free hot breakfast! If you prefer something on the beach, we have had great luck staying at D’Sand’s Motel as well as the Surftides. Granted these are older hotels, you can’t beat the location especially if night walks and bonfire’s on the beach are your thingJ.

For more information on other coastal attractions, here are some great links:



If snow or water sports and/or camping, mountain bike riding, and/or hiking are more to your taste, then central Oregon such as Bend and Sisters are the perfect places to visit. No matter what time of year, there is always something to do! Located about 3 hours east of Corvallis, Bend has some of the best bike trails in the world and Mt. Bachelor has been called a “skier’s paradise” by USAtoday (Bouchard, 2014). Floating down the Deschutes River on inner-tubes or whitewater rafting in the summer has always been some of my kids’ favorite things to do.

Since you will be traveling a bit further to get to Central Oregon from Corvallis, my girls and I like to make a weekend out of these visits and we have always enjoyed lodging at the Seventh Mountain Resort.  Or if you prefer staying within walking distance to popular attractions, try hotels in or near the old mill district.




While I know there are closer cities to visit, such as Salem and Eugene, that also offer family oriented attractions (Silver Falls sits east of Salem, Enchanted Forest is south of Salem off I-5), I find trips to the coast and Central Oregon to be more fulfilling. Many graduate students are only in Oregon for 2 years or less. If this is your case, I hope you take the time to visit these destinations before you leave the beautiful state of Oregon. It’s well worth it!


Clare Cady is one of our distinguished faculty members of CSSA and our faculty voice for this week. She is the Coordinator for the Human Services Resource Center at Oregon State University, and holds positions as the NASPA Region V Research Coordinator and the Co-Founder of the College and University Food Bank Alliance.

More information on Clare Cady can be found at the College of Education website at:

Twitter: @ClareCady  @OSUHSRC


In your actual and virtual travels in the world of student affairs, I imagine that you (CSSA students, but also staff/faculty and other readers) have not come across a whole lot of other offices like the HSRC. While there are a lot of schools that have programs focused on student poverty, hunger, homelessness, and food insecurity, the existence of a human services office embedded on a college campus is a rare thing. HSRC as an office has only been in existence for 3.5 years. That said, some of the programs we administer date back as many as 20 years, and all of them were started by students. Oregon State students have a long-time track record for developing and institutionalizing ways to support students in need. When the number of programs reached a critical point, it was the students who proposed the creation of the HSRC, found the funding, and signed the office into existence. It was students who determined that an administrator was necessary, and it was a student who picked me as that person. Throughout the process the “by students, for students” attitude has been prevalent, and even with a professional faculty presence and a reporting line to the Dean of Student Life Office we strive to maintain that way of being.

Please note that the range of student issues, identities, and situations we work with at HSRC are incredibly broad and far-reaching. They are also intersectional in nature, and it is hard to use anything but a list of terms and identities to capture fully this group of students. For the purposes of this conversation I will use “HSRC Students” to simplify, even when the students are not at Oregon State. Perhaps that reflective of my hope that we could have HSRC type offices on more campuses, or perhaps I am just trying to avoid typing “students from low-SES, students in economic crisis, low-income students, first generation students, and students experiencing poverty, hunger, homelessness and food insecurity either from a generational or situational lens” each time I reference students. So when I say “HSRC Students” from now on, you can refer to that list (and the myriad of other student identities and issues I most surely did not include) when I say it.

While I do think that HSRC is on the growth edge of this work, there are a lot of other institutions that are developing programming to support students facing economic issues. Other institutions are working to serve HSRC Students either though targeted and specific programs, or by developing similar offices. Creating a campus-based food pantry to serve students is what I see most commonly. That said, there is an HSRC equivalent at the Community College of Denver, and the City University of New York has an amazing partnership with a nonprofit called Single-Stop USA that is doing awesome work. I think that when considering institutionalized support for HSRC Students one should really be looking to community colleges. That’s where the power is in this conversation right now. They serve the greatest number of HSRC Students in our country, and they are the ones that are innovating at tremendous rates. It also should be said that community colleges have been innovating on these issues for much much longer than four-year institutions. The fact that many don’t know about it ties into class privilege, and classist attitudes in academia and student affairs that devalue community colleges such that they are regularly rendered invisible in conversations around promising practices. While OSU gets a lot of love and attention for the HSRC, we should note that it is a privilege to be seen as a leader when I know that community colleges are going to be the future of this kind of work.

I think that this kind of conversation is necessary for student affairs professionals to engage in as we develop ourselves and our practice. I also think that the student affairs professionals of the future will need to be competent in their understanding of class and socioeconomic status as a cross-cutting and intersectional aspect of multicultural and social justice conversations. If you are looking at my position and thinking “there is no way I want to specialize in that because there are no jobs ahead of me in my future,” know that I think about that sometimes too. Then I remember that the current climate in higher education is focused on educational access, and that the Federal Government, our professional organizations like NASPA and ACPA, and our institutions are grappling with big issues and questions on how to support HSRC Students. Also, if you are passionate about multicultural affairs, diversity, and social justice in higher education, you should be thinking about class/SES and its intersectionality. Underrepresented populations are more likely to need services from an office like HSRC. Also it is important to note that a great number of college students are just, just, making it. One crisis or challenge that hits in the economic realm and they will become an HSRC Student.


Hi all,

Fall term flew by and we, the first-year cohort, successfully completed our first term of grad school! I’m very thankful for everyone in my cohort who has encouraged me, challenged me and supported me thus far and I’m excited for what’s to come in the next few terms together!

2013-12-13 11.48.15

Now as we have entered our second term, many of us are starting to finalize our thesis topic/question or portfolio theme, while balancing our assistantships, courses, internships, family and somewhat of a social life. During our first term in Transitions class, we had a discussion about work-life balance and I asked myself, “Is this even a realistic concept?” Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out a plan to balance all aspects of my life but I believe it’s how you schedule your priorities and time that makes it work.  I’ve learned that while compartmentalizing works for some folks, it’s not a universal solution to work-life balance. (I still had a hard time not checking my work email over winter break!)

Here are some tips that may assist those of you who are still trying to maintain work-life balance:

  1. Be honest with your friends and family.
  2. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the last minute.
  3. Make a flexible schedule, and don’t overbook yourself.
  4. Re-evaluate your daily activities and responsibilities.
  5. Put your electronic devices away during study time.
    (Acosta, 2013)

Know that you’re not alone and this is a struggle a majority of people face during grad school. Be honest in the process and utilize the resources on campus as well as the people who encourage you to help you throughout your experience at Oregon State.


Thanks for reading & I hope you all have a great term!

Esther Kim

Twitter: @estherehkim


Acosta, G. (2013). Stretched too thin? Five graduate student work-life balance tips. Retrieved from http://msw.usc.edu/mswusc-blog/graduate-student-work-life-balance/



Welcome everyone!

I am a first-year CSSA student from Portland, OR. Recently I have had the privilege and opportunity to attend the NASPA Western Regional Conference in Salt Lake City. NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education is one of the two largest student affairs associations in the US.

I was beyond nervous but excited to attend as a first-time attendee and a graduate student in a room full of distinguished professionals. I was surprised to see the conference addressed a multitude of student affairs issues that relate to current student populations and personal interests of mine. One session in particular was hosted by four Oregon State University professionals from University Housing and Dining Services titled: “Unearthing our Landscapes of Internalized Racism and White Dominance in Working Relationships”. This session provided the opportunity for individuals to analyze and observe how internalized racism is prevalent in their work and personal spaces. This resonated with me due to my lack of racial identity development as an Asian American and addressed how I personally have internalized my race and ethnicity as a way to socialize with the dominant society.

This conference has not only helped me become a better graduate student through self-analysis and critical thinking, but also a better developing student affairs professional. Conferences are a great way to be educated on current issues that are relevant to our work with students while connecting and networking with individuals from various institutions. The student affairs community is much like an extended family with a copious amount of support and encouragement. If you ever have the chance to attend a local, regional, or national conference, please do so; it’ll be a decision you won’t regret!


Thanks for reading!


Esther Kim

Twitter: @estherehkim