I want to challenge you to take a minute of self-reflection.
Ignore the text messages, ignore the desktop notifications and think solely on your community. How are you responding to the needs of those around you?
It can be easy to get into a day to day routine, and forget there are hurting people around us, until we see the homeless on the street or hear tragic news after work.
But for some, this apathetic privilege is not their reality.
For some, their day to day is not sheltered, or easy. For some in our communities, they rely on the kindness and energy from others to make it through the week.
This is why Missouri State takes pride in our public affairs mission. Three pillars embody our mission for our personal development and reaching out to those around us: cultural competence, community engagement and ethical leadership. With these pillars we are challenged to not only grow as individuals, but to use our talents and energy for the community as well.
To touch on these pillars more in depth, let’s start with community engagement.
This pillar is straightforward, and the results of your work will be prevalent in the lives of those in need. Missouri State makes it easy to find opportunities to dive into community service with immersion trips, various events throughout the school year and active fraternity and sorority chapters supporting philanthropies across the country.
Cultural competence is acknowledging and appropriately responding to others’ backgrounds, cultures and identities, while also valuing and growing in our own. By knowing who we are and also appreciating our differences, we can use this to advance our mission and be successful in teams and as professionals.
And finally, ethical leadership. Ethical leadership also deals with knowing our own value systems and expressing them in respectful ways, while understanding that those who work around us may have different set of values. Understanding the ethics behind leadership and acting on that to bring about productive and positive change is what this pillar is all about.
The past two summers, I have served the university as a Student Orientation, Advisement and Registration (SOAR) leader with MSU New Student and Family Programs. At our orientation sessions over the summer, we explain to our incoming students what these three pillars mean.
This part of the session was a time for open discussion, acknowledging and appreciating others’ ideals and exploring why these three aspects of our education here are so essential.
These talks were not always a walk in the park. Many coming through SOAR have not experienced anything like it before, which is why it is such a necessity in the world of student affairs.
I always told my fellow students at the end to not be afraid of these conversations when coming to campus in the fall, and I want to reiterate that.
For any new student reading this, please know that these conversations about our differences are so important to opening our minds and understanding those around us. I sincerely hope your professors build these pillars into your coursework, and I encourage you to welcome these talks with your fellow students in the fall.