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.


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



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


My apologies if you’ve stumbled across the CSSA blog in recent weeks! The second-year cohort is caught up in thesis and portfolio work, as well as the ever-so-entertaining job search. Spring term also sees the arrival of another wave of conference season, with classmates attending NACADA, NASPA, and various other conferences all across the country.

On my end of things, I’m happy to report that after over twenty applications to schools up and down the West Coast, I was hired on as an academic advisor at Clark College, a two-year institution in Vancouver, WA. I will be finishing up my courses as a part-time commuter student while starting my position several days after I defend my capstone portfolio. Things are cuh-razy ’round here, and that’s leaving out the fact that it snowed all day yesterday in Corvallis.

The program also just notified candidates for the CSSA Cohort 2012 of their admission. So far, I’ve been pretty pleased to hear who’s going to be a part of the first-year cohort in the fall. I have several friends who have already been doing outstanding work in the field, and I am looking forward to their growth in student affairs.

Now, since I have a portfolio to tend to, I must be going. However, if you are a prospective CSSA candidate, feel free to hop on over to to check out how my portfolio is progressing. 🙂 (Or I suppose if you’re a current student and thinking about the blog format for your portfolio, you can check it out, too!)

Remember, if you have any questions, send ’em our way!

How is it already September? I swear I just ended my first year of the CSSA program and already I’m getting ready to enter my second year. I’m a second-year CSSA grad student! Woo-HOO!

I had an amazing summer. I was able to complete four internship credits, work part-time on campus, write for the student newspaper, and enjoy the beautiful Oregon landscapes with my puppy. After a couple months of rest and relaxation…well….some rest and a little bit of relaxation, I feel ready to conquer year number two. I’m looking forward to co-teaching a U-Engage course called Money Matters for one of my internships, helping coordinate the Nonprofit Volunteer and Internship Expo for a project credit, and working on my graduate portfolio (which I haven’t started! EEK!). As a student who gets all of her assignments done weeks in advance, this is very unlike me to have delayed working on my portfolio this summer, but I think I just needed some time to really think about what I learned last year and digest it properly in order to coherently write about it in my portfolio (that little thing I need to complete to graduate from CSSA in June!).

On top of completing some of my CSSA requirements this summer, I had some time to myself to rediscover my interests outside of school. I started running again, cooking healthy vegan and vegetarian meals, reading non-academic books for fun, and of course I volunteered as much as I could. In fact, I already completed my 300 hours of service for the Students in Service program.  I hope that I will have the time to continue running and cooking next year. I remember when I got accepted to OSU and was so excited to work out at Dixon on the elliptical machines that create energy and climb the rock walls after class. Last year I sadly went to Dixon maybe three times and never used the elliptical machine and didn’t climb a rock wall either. Although this upcoming year will likely be busier than last year, I intend to take my refreshed outlook from summer and focus on work-life balance throughout the year…even with a graduate portfolio and added responsibilities in my internships, projects, committees, and assistantship…and of course a five month-old puppy waiting for me to get home to play!

Thinking about the future is exciting, but I don’t want to think too far ahead just yet. It’s easy to start thinking about what type of job I’ll look at applying for when I graduate or whether I’ll apply for the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps*NCCC. I think it’s exciting because I know how much I love what I do and I look forward to being able to do it as a full-time professional. I haven’t even begun year two, yet I’m already thinking about earning a graduate certificate in non-profit management or applying to the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas. Little Rock? Why not? Surely I’m not ready for these steps, but it will be fun to think about closer to graduation. It’s strange how I sat in Wisconsin waiting to move to Corvallis so I could start the CSSA program and I’m already sitting in Corvallis wondering where I’ll go next. Fortunately for me, even if jobs are scarce when I graduate, I will happily become a full-time volunteer. Life has always ended up pointing me in the right direction (with a plethora of forks in the road) and I imagine wherever I end up, I’ll be where I’m supposed to be.

-Courtney Nikolay

I swear I had the best intentions of writing an entry every week or every month, but I guess being extremely busy with student-affairs related activities is better than having too much spare time to blog about such activities. Anyway, I feel as though I was just writing my grad school essays and asking past professors and current supervisors for recommendation letters, and now I am sitting here in Corvallis at OSU about to head into my second year of the CSSA program.

Prior to moving to Corvallis I had expectations and ideas of what it would look and feel like to be a graduate student in the College Student Services Administration program. After a year, I’m still figuring it all out, but I can easily say that it is nothing like I had imagined (for one, it rains far more than I ever thought could be possible).

Before going into the program, I knew that I would overextend and overinvolve myself on campus. I was told many, MANY times to work on my work-volunteer-life balance, but during my first year of CSSA I couldn’t really seem to find a healthy balance between everything. I wanted to attend every event, become a part of every committee, become the best GTA in the history of GTAs, and get a 4.0 – all while trying to volunteer 10-15 hours a week and love on my foster cat, Bitsy.

I soon found out that there are always going to be amazing opportunities on campus and it isn’t humanly possible to attend every event, conference, meeting, or social opportunity. You have to pick and choose what is most important to you; being a great student and a GTA were (and are) really important to me, but eating well, getting enough sleep, and getting off of campus and out of Corvallis several times a term are also really important. I became Courtney Nikolay, PeaceJam GTA/Student, instead of Courtney Nikolay, human who enjoys volunteering who also happens to be a CSSA grad student and the PeaceJam GTA.

This summer has been really wonderful for my mental health. I originally planned to dabble in student affairs this summer with an internship at Willamette University and then I was going to go to Thailand for a month to relax before fall term began. NOW out of nowhere I have three internships, an on-campus job,  I’m writing several articles a week for The Daily Barometer (the OSU student newspaper), and will be taking a five-credit service-learning course next month…..OH, and I just got a 2-month old puppy named Cooper. However, the difference between last year and this summer is that I’m managing my time in a healthy and balanced way by getting outside, going on walks, cooking every now and then, and really, REALLY enjoying everything that I’m doing.

My internship at Willamette University is in the Office of Community Service Learning and I ADORE the work that I’m doing and the people with whom I’m working. I’m so happy that I chose to do this internship because not only is it so interesting and fun, it’s in a completely different environment that I’m used to. During my undergrad, I went to the University of Minnesota, where over 55,000 students attend, and I worked at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where over 24,000 students attend. Now, at OSU, where about 25,000 students attend, I hadn’t felt the small, private school feel. It’s amazing, yet also amusing to me that I can go to a staff meeting on Tuesday morning and sit across from the Dean of Student Life, the Director of Student Activities, the Director of Multicultural Affairs, the Director of Recreational Sports, the Interim Director of Community Service Learning, and several department interns and student workers. To make this meeting happen at a large, public university, you’d have to schedule months and months in advance and do several doodle polls. At Willamette, the departments are typically run by one staff person and they wear several hats, which I LOVE.

I’m also interning with United Way and helping them plan the OSU Day of Caring, which is a large-scale service event for nearly 800 OSU students and Corvallis community members. You know those days when you’re at work and you are just having such a great time and the day just flies because you feel so good? My internships and projects that relate to service and civic engagement make me this happy. Some people don’t have the opportunity to ever really discover what they are meant to do and what they are best at, and I’m pretty lucky that I’m already so aware of what brings me joy in life and how my joy is able to help others through my commitment to service.

Finally, I have been chosen to serve on the Oregon Campus Compact Student Advisory Board next year. I get to work with other student leaders who are passionate about community service/volunteerism/service-learning and figure out ways to get students on all of our different campuses involved in their communities, whether tutoring at a local school, serving beverages at a local soup kitchen, or enrolling in a service-learning course. It’s pretty neat that I’ve been given this opportunity and I look forward to seeing what ideas we come up with throughout the year. OSU is definitely a place where students are interested in volunteering and faculty members are curious about service-learning, but the value of civic engagement and service just aren’t as deeply threaded into the culture as it could be; thus, I’d like to help change that for as long as I’m here!

I’ve blabbed on a bit too long.  Time to go play with my puppy!

My new form of work/life balance!

Thanks for reading!

-Courtney Nikolay

As the year came to an end and I found myself no longer a “first year,” I struggled with understanding what that really means. I spoke to a few of my fellow cohort members to get a sense of what they thought. It seemed that no one really knew. It should mean I am wiser and more prepared for student affairs, but in fact, I think that there is now more that I want to learn and experience before going into the profession. This realization motivates me to take on more challenges next year so that I come away from the program a truly competent professional.

I reflected on what drew me to this program. What I love is how much flexibility and freedom we have in creating our program plan. For my internships and projects, I have tried to take on roles that are completely different from anything I have experienced before so that I can expand my horizon and knowledge of the field.

This summer I am interning at Linfield College in McMinnville. I love it! I am in Resident Life working on learning outcomes and assessment for their Resident Assistant Orientation. Housing is not one of my interest areas, but it’s an area that I wanted to dip my foot into at least once during CSSA. I am finding that there are some similarities between housing and student events and activities, the area of what my assistantship. This experience has connected me with other young professionals, who are just as passionate and in the same position of learning. One housing staff member is completing a similar student affairs program through a Florida University. Going over our views of students, the new generation, and the nature of the student affairs professional, I realized that there are many more similarities in the issues of a small private college and a large public institution that I had originally thought. My view of student affairs broadened considerably.

As the second year of CSSA starts, some of what I plan on being involved with include: the CAPS Advisory Board, U-Engage, interning at LBCC, presenting and working on the Diversity Summit, and of course, continue to dedicate my efforts to Student Leadership & Involvement. This will give me the variety I want, while also allowing me to do some of the same work from the first year.

Most of all, I look forward to reconnecting with my cohort (I miss you all!) and starting this second year. I hope it is even better than the first!

-Yuliya Dennis

I promised myself I wouldn’t let the CSSA blog lapse. However, there was this little thing called “I got sick for about two months and then all of a sudden it was the end of spring term and oh my God I’m leaving the country two days after that term ends.”

Let’s recap what happened in March-June really quickly.

  • NASPA Conference in Philadelphia, PA! I was conveniently sick the entire time, but I still managed to have fun, network, and learn a lot more about the field I’m going into. I helped out with the International Education Knowledge Community’s International Symposium, as well, so I got to interact with professionals working in countries like Qatar, Germany, Spain, Lithuania, and beyond. Met a lot of really great #sagrads and had a hilariously awesome moment with Dean Mamta Accapadi at a Tweet-up. For the record, I do not believe that Dunkin Donuts is better than Starbucks.
  • Spring Break! I was supposed to join the Community Service Center and fellow cohortmate, Courtney, on the Alternative Spring Break trip to Yakima, WA. However, I was so sick by that point that the most I could do was drive to Wenatchee, WA and lie on my mother’s couch for days. I’m still not sure how I made that drive because not only was it 7 hours, it was dark and dumping rain the entire time. Not my most brilliant moment in time.
  • Spring Term. Theory II, Multicultural Issues, Organizational Architecture, and… Balletsport. I topped off the class list with two internships, one with IDEA working on curriculum integration documents and development, and another with the College of Business to develop a users’ guide for LinkedIn and also to evaluate for usability.
  • Lots of events! University Honors College held its annual Mom’s Weekend Brunch & Talent Show, as well as several closing events to honor (no pun intended) the graduating seniors. Other things that happened? Well, Nick and I piloted the first Real Talk session, which is like a fireside chat. We advertised it as a “Come and ask us anything” event, and for competing with sunshine and the spring fashion show, I was happy with the turn-out. I also attended MUPC’s Battle of the Bands (briefly), and I was very impressed with the stage set-up. Anyone ever been to Warped? It was like that–two stages side-by-side, so one band can perform and the next can soundcheck during the other band’s set. It’s great for timing and seamlessness. Well done, MUPC.

Now, I’m working on a short-term internship with a friend and fellow student affairs grad from Colorado State University. She’s in the SAHE program there, and it’s cool to collaborate with someone from another student affairs Master’s program. Oh, and we’re doing our internship at the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine. It’s been interesting learning more about the university, the different services offered, and the culture of Trinidad and Tobago. At the end of this week, we will be attending the CTLPA conference which is like the annual ACPA or NASPA conferences, just for the Caribbean.

Hope this finds you well and that summer is being kind!

Hello, hello.

It has been a doozy of a term for me. Without getting into the particulars, let’s just say I had a major life event that essentially took me out of Corvallis for a few weeks. I’ve spent the last few weeks of the term trying to regain my footing, but I’m happy to say that I’ve made it through with the awesome support of staff and my friends here in Corvallis.

Getting my bearings back includes taking a lot of time to do my own thing. I’ve been in Fort Collins, CO as well as Los Angeles, CA, seeing friends and making new friends–and even doing a little bit of student affairs networking. I’m leaving for the national NASPA conference this Friday, and I hope to connect with some of the faces I saw out at CSU while we’re all in Philadelphia.

While I was out of town, I was able to Skype into one of my classes and listen in to lecture. I was pretty stoked about the chance to do this, as CSSA’s flexibility in accommodating life’s hiccups was one of its big draws for me, back when I was interviewing. It was nice to see my classmates’ faces again, even though it was through a tiny computer screen.

Speaking of technology, however, there is something new and exciting that’s come up in my student affairs-related life. Higher Ed Live has just launched a brand new show–a webcast, to be exact–hosted by CSSA alum, Eric Stoller. I’m acting as a production assistant now, which essentially means I Tweet like CRAZY while the show airs. You can follow the action on most Wednesdays, 1PM PST / 4PM EST, on Higher Ed Live’s website and through the Twitter page. It’s kind of neat, and it’s a cool example of how social media can be utilized by those of us in student affairs. We just had our first broadcast today.

That’s about it for today. With winter term wrapping up, there’s a lot of work to be done!

I’m a bit late to the “Congratuations, first-years! We survived the first term!” party boat, but the sentiment remains the same. As it is, we’re almost halfway through the second term here, which is an accomplishment of which to be proud.

What’s my journey been like so far? Bumpy, at worst. However, at best, it’s one of those “Oh my goodness, I was meant to be here for a reason” type journeys.

I’m in the midst of what is called a “quarter-life crisis.” I’m in my mid-twenties, trying to reorient myself on a new path in life, all the while dealing with the pressures of every day life. It’s a real challenge, not a buzzword made up by some lazy Generation Y folks to explain why they were living in their parents’ basements. Have a look for yourself; the New York Times published an article called What is it About 20-Somethings? and quite a few parts of it ring true. (If you’re wanting to read more about this QLC of mine, though, I recommend you pop on over to Trains & Sunsets. That’s my person blog/diary/portfolio-in-the-making.)

Anyway, what I was saying is that joining CSSA was a step in the right direction for me. I finally have found a field I’m passionate about. One of my biggest pushes towards personal balance is making sure what I do as a job fits with me as a person, and I have a feeling that student affairs may fulfill that.

It’s not to say that pursuing a Master’s is easy, though. There are the odd assistantship hours, the evening classes, the I’m-hungry-but-I-forgot-to-go-grocery-shopping days, and the challenge of finding time to hit the gym and have a social life. However, in a way, what I do is teaching college students how to find their paths in life and their own personal balance– what kind of teacher would I be if I didn’t lead by example, in this case?

Overall, there is quite a bit I’ve learned in only one term and a half; I’m still looking forward to what the next year and a half or so will bring. In the meantime, stay tuned…