Please save the date! The CSSA Student Association (CSSA-SA) will be hosting two webinars for incoming CSSA students this month. The dates of the webinars are below:

Wednesday, March 25th from 12:00-1:00 PM Pacific Time

Thursday, March 26th from 4:00-5:00 PM Pacific Time

The webinars will both present the same information for incoming students. The webinars will both provide an overview of the CSSA program including academics, core classes and registration, thesis versus portfolio, and OSU email. The webinars will also include a brief summary of life in Corvallis, housing options ,OSU’s institutional culture, and OSU and Corvallis communities. Accepted students will be receiving more information about the webinars via email later this week.


We look forward to chatting with you soon!


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    The CSSA program has a strong student association (CSSA-SA). CSSA-SA was established:

    “Fall Term of 2008 with the purpose of creating an environment that would foster positive relationship, teach and share learned experiences, provide support to all CSSA students before, during, and after the pursuit of [their degree], create awareness of the profession of student affairs and build relationships with the larger community of student affairs”.

    The current CSSA-SA is continuing this legacy.  The organization plans programs, meets with CSSA faculty, and coordinates with alumni and OSU undergraduate students interested in student affairs. All CSSA students are considered active members in the program, and are able to run for an Advisory Board position during elections Week 5 of Fall Term. For more information about CSSA-SA please contact Kyle Flowers, Administration Chair, at or Sophie Wilson, Faculty Advisor, at

    For more information about the current CSSA-SA please take a moment to review the organization’s informational PowerPoint: CSSA-SA Presentation.

    CSSA-SA Presentation

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      As we in CSSA focus on the future of our Program, we are currently in the thick of the admissions process for the Fall 2015 Cohort. Our new application deadline of February 2nd has passed, and our admissions committee has begun the review of application materials. Applicants who have been selected to advance to the phone interview stage will be notified in approximately one week.Phone interviews will take place on February 25, 26, and 27th; they will be scheduled for one hour, and details on these will be shared with those candidates who are offered an interview. For those who are applying to CSSA and are seeking graduate assistantships (GTA positions), it is important to note that candidates would need to be admitted to the CSSA academic program prior to being offered a GTA position.


      Additional information about GTA positions and that interview process will be shared in the coming weeks as well. Questions? Please contact Laurie Brendle-Sleipness at: 541-737-4317


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        Greetings from Oregon State University! This is an exciting time at our University and in our CSSA Program. I just read this morning that OSU was named “One of the 50 most underrated colleges in America” by msn/money (; our women’s basketball team leads the Pac-12 conference (I watched the OSU-UCLA game recently, and the Beavs were awesome!), and we have taken a big step toward securing our program’s future and strengthening the social justice focus of CSSA.

        Beginning this term and concluding in the summer, we are in the process of transitioning the CSSA program to the School of Language, Culture and Society (LCS) in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA). CLA is one of the three OSU colleges (Education, Science and Liberal Arts) in the Division of Arts & Sciences, and one of the units recommended in our 10-year Graduate Program Review of 2014 as an academic home for CSSA. As with CSSA, social justice is a key focus for LCS; it will be a great place for CSSA to thrive and grow.

        CSSA has long enjoyed a strong relationship with our colleagues and the academic programs in LCS-CLA, as many of our students take courses in Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies, and several have minored in these programs as well. Our goal in forging this partnership is to build on the strength of CSSA and our nearly 50-year history of preparing students to work and lead in a wide variety of institutions as well as in a rich array of student and academic services and programs. At the same time, we are boldly exploring best practices and developing approaches to curriculum and scholarship that will strengthen CSSA’s capacity — to meet and shape future challenges and opportunities in higher education, as well as embrace and support the hopes and dreams of the students and communities we will serve in the decades ahead.

        Whether you are a current or prospective student, alum, colleague, or faculty member — we appreciate your interest in CSSA and look forward to sharing more news with you in the near future!

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          Esther Kim is a first-year CSSA student with an assistantship with the CSSA Program in the Office of the Dean of Student Life. Next fall, she will be transitioning to the Dean of Student Life Central GTA.

          Twitter: @estherehkim


          The 2013 cohort #cohorties

          (missing: Richard Arquette & Scott Brueck)


          It’s unbelievable! We’re down to the last week of the school year and just days away, the class of 2014 will be graduating with their master’s degree from Oregon State University. As a first-year student, I admired many 2nd and 3rd year cohort members and looked to them for guidance, advice, and an a ear to talk to when school, work, and life got a bit hectic. Thank you to the class of 2014 and I wish you all the best in you future endeavors! Y’all are the best! #CSSAlove

          It’s been a whirlwind of a ride and I’m still in shock that we, the first-year cohort, are half way through the program! There were many times when I doubted myself, wondered what I was doing in grad school, underestimated my work abilities, and struggled to maintain friendships and relationships from home. I’ve been learning that through this journey, going through these emotions and experiences is a lifelong process, and you have to invest time in what matters most to you. This past year has been quite the roller coaster ride but graduate school has taught me very valuable lessons that I will carry with me onto the next year.


          1. Always ask yourself “why?”. Throughout this year, I have been challenged on multiple levels from my instructors, supervisor, and advisor on ways to further my education and learning in order to be the best professional and individual. At times, I was struggling to find the reason as to why they would had me do that extra hard assignment or why they had me read extra 40 pages when I thought I knew the material already. Why are they pushing me so hard? The professionals around you know exactly what your potential is and in order to reach your potential, some pushing and challenging has to be done. Reflecting on this year, I begin to recognize that everything is done intentionally and if it wasn’t for the professionals continue to challenge me, I wouldn’t be reflecting, thinking, processing the same way as I would have if they didn’t do so.

          2. Make time for yourself. I can’t emphasize this point enough during your first term and year of grad school. The transition period can be rough regardless if you came straight from undergrad or have taken a few years off school. It can be overwhelming at times to balance your time with school, work, and other obligations. Regardless if it’s watching TV for one hour a day, working out, or traveling to Portland on weekends, make sure you make time for yourself and do something that you enjoy that will take your mind off of grad school. You have to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically in order to succeed and accomplish all that you wish to do. #selfcare

          3. Make meaningful relationships. Student affairs is all about connecting and networking. During your time in the CSSA program, take time to get to know the individuals in your cohort as they will be a huge support system during your time at Oregon State. Set up meetings with professionals in a functional areas you would like to one day be in. Professionals are always willing to make time, get to know you personally and professionally, and they love a good coffee date. Many of the relationships with colleagues and professionals I have made this year have been impactful during my time at Oregon State, and I know that even after graduation, those relationships will be maintained.

          4. Enjoy the ride! You picked Oregon State for a reason. You are in the program because you are competent and people believe you have a lot of potential to grow and learn. Enjoy the journey of grad school and experience as much as you can during your years in the program. Take time to intern at various departments, attend sporting events and cheer on the Beavers, and walk around downtown Corvallis to experience the uniqueness of the city. This journey goes by so fast so stop and smell the roses once in a while. Once again, your cohort members are your support system and will be along on this journey with you. Utilize the people around you that will bring you up and allow you to flourish.


          To all the incoming CSSA students, remember to breathe, relax, and enjoy the journey for the next couple of years. We’re all thrilled to meet you, get to know you, and work with you during your time here at Oregon State.


          Share and Enjoy!

            DJ Zissen is a second-year CSSA student graduating this June. DJ defended his thesis on “Policies and Practices of L.G.B.T.Q. Friendly Institutions to Support Students who are Attracted to More than One Gender”.

            Twitter handle: @djzissen


            When I joined the CSSA program, just about two years ago, I thought I had a good idea of what I was getting into. Graduate school was just like my undergraduate experience… right? I just had to pass classes and then I could finally get the job in student affairs that I’ve always wanted… right? This cohort I was joining was going to be nice but not needed because I was already secure with my support structure within OSU… right? I came to find out all three of those notions were wrong.

            Now, I could fill pages about my first two assumptions were incorrect, in fact wrote about it in my demonstration of competencies for those who are interested, but I was most surprised how important my cohort has become to me. For those who don’t know, I attended OSU as an undergraduate student, began working for INTO OSU right after graduation, and then transitions to the CSSA program. Because of this, I felt that I already had the support structure built that would support me through the difficult two years of graduate school. Looking back on that support structure, people moved, roles changed, or couldn’t understand what I was going through. Thankfully, my cohort was more than able to fill the void that was left. They are my cheerleaders, classmates, colleagues, and most importantly my family. I can’t think of my CSSA experience without the amazing group of people that make up #cohortlove and I am humbled to count myself a part of this fantastic cohort.

            I guess, for the sake of brevity, what I am trying to say is this. I know that I would not be graduating on June 14th without the amazing people who I have had the honor to learn from, be challenged by, and be accepted within. Out of all the experiences that I have had throughout my time within CSSA, I am most thankful that I have had the time to get to know the 2014 Cohort. I am excited that we are getting ready to graduate and head out into the field we have worked so hard to join. I also excited to see what amazing things we accomplish no matter if we are at the same institution or across the country! #cohortlove


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              Tama Bolton is our featured alumni blogger for this week. Tama, 2007 CSSA Graduate, is the Director of Enrollment Services which includes the offices of Admissions, Records and Financial Aid at Cabrillo College, a community college in Aptos, California, student population 12,500. You may also reach her on Twitter: @TamaMBolton


              I recently paused from the hecticness of numerous projects in motion at work to reflect upon when I have experienced a similar level of heightened activity and concluded that “this feels very much like how I felt during my final term in the CSSA program.”  Yes, this definitely feels like Spring 2007 when I had a myriad of projects in motion at one time and as many emotions swirling while scrambling to get everything done.  The combination of anxiety about pending deadlines mixed with the uncertainty of what lies ahead felt massive.  I was happy that I was nearly finished with a significant goal, yet sad that it also meant that many other things were coming to an end and I would soon be embarking on another journey but had no idea what it would look like.

              It isn’t like this all the time, but several things have happened in the past six months which have forced me to dig down deep and tap into many skills I learned while in the CSSA program, some from specific course assignments, my graduate assistant experience and others from simply having been a student developing my own organization and coping skills.

              Here are some examples–

              1. Human Development–The offices of Admissions, Records and Financial Aid ended the fall term with the usual end of term busy activities while also packing up our offices to prepare to move to a temporary location as our building, one of the oldest on campus, would be undergoing revitalization for at least four months (of course it turned out to be six months).  Each office is set up in a former classroom  which is not an ideal situation but we have adjusted and repeat our new motto of “it’s just temporary.”  Not everyone handles change in the same manner and I have seen evidence of Maslow’s Theory of Hierarchical Needs while staff adjust to the new environment and my leadership team and I work to address their diverse needs so they can function in their jobs.

              1. Removing Silos–During my time at OSU (2005-2007) the University was experiencing a budget crisis and Larry Roper and his Student Services leadership team had numerous conversations about restructuring.  He shared with us plans for breaking down silos within Student Services and the need for working more collaboratively.  I remember wondering what exactly that would mean, how would Student Services at OSU stay the same or be different, would the student notice the difference, what did it mean for the future of OSU?

              We are now having the same conversations at Cabrillo due to budget reductions last year.  Two years ago, our Vice President of Student Services announced a restructure of campus services and blended the offices Admissions, Records and Financial Aid and created the Enrollment Services Division.  We are gradually adjusting to this new structure, not all staff grasped the concept or saw the need, but now many state and federal regulations are impacting how we conduct business forcing these key areas to have in-depth conversations, modify our practices so that we are in compliance with the regulations so we may offer financial aid to students and monitor their progress together.

              It is very apparent now why restructure was necessary.  We are realizing the benefits of a deeper level of collaboration and more transparent operations, I can see the concept taking on as we begin to work closer with other areas such as our Institutional Technology division and Business Services.  As a result, we have better informed staff and therefore are providing better services for our students.

              In our temporary office/classroom space I have seen how the absence of cubicle walls have nurtured better collaboration between staff and has helped to break down long held  differences between personnel.  In addition to breaking down the figurative silos, we will be remodeling the office workstations and removing the physical walls when we return to our newly revitalized building the end of this month.

              1. Order out of chaos–In our Leadership course, Bruce Clemetsen and Tim McMahon taught us about chaos theory and shared evidence that good things can come out of chaotic events.  After having experienced much chaos lately, I can say that certainly is possible.

              In preparation for the move to our temporary location and instead of moving all of the archival records, the Records office implemented a schedule of digitizing them to make them accessible electronically, something we had talked of doing but seized the opportunity to move them into the 21st century instead of to a temporary location.  Although it was another major project, the timing was right and as a result, our processes are streamlined, records are easily accessible and we will now have more office space when we return.

              I am currently at a conference for directors of California community college Admissions & Records offices and last month I attended a similar conference but on a national level.  In California we are all recovering from a few challenging budget years which have sparked many changes on our campuses–changes in organizational structure and office functionality, as well as statewide regulations focusing on methods to ensuring student success.  We are not alone in making huge changes in how we operate and are funded, as it was a resounding theme among my colleagues at the national level.  It is an exciting yet chaotic time in higher education as there are so many changes in affect and more to come.  It is comforting to know we are not alone in the process.  I am glad to be involved in a time of so much change and eager to see how things look once there is calm after this storm.  There is certain to be a new chapter in the History of Higher Education in the United States textbook as a result of what we are experiencing now.

              1. Assessment, assessment, assessment–It’s the time of year when staff evaluations are due so I am in the mode of assessing the work of my staff, while also being evaluated by my boss who also requires that I do a self assessment prior to our meeting to discuss my progress and goals.  Ironically, it is also time for our program review when we assess the effectiveness of the student learning outcomes and the services we provide to our colleagues and students in each office.  Always assessing.

              When I decided to go back to college and earn my master’s degree, I pursued the CSSA program because I was not only looking for a degree, but I wanted the holistic experience the program promised in order to be fully prepared for my career in Student Services and that is exactly what I received.  After graduation, I was better prepared than I gave myself credit that final term and my experiences in the program certainly prepared me for the pace of my current role and the elements of my daily work.

              To the first year CSSA students, I wish you well as you prepare for the end of what I am certain has been another whirlwind term as you progress to the next phase of the program.  I wish the graduating students the best as they prepare to defend their thesis, wrap up projects and prepare to move on to their next journey.

              Share and Enjoy!

                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 ( (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


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                  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
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                    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.



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