Has anyone ever told you to “never judge a book by its cover”? Well, I’m adding to the phrase: never judge an institution by its type.
Last week, my graduate program of College Student Personnel spent three full days visiting Belmont University, Fisk University, the University of Tennessee at Martin, and West Kentucky Community Technical College to learn about how these institutions worked. While I will probably wait a while before hopping on a bus again, I am definitely thankful for the chance to see my learning in action. Meeting with student affairs professionals, asking questions, and looking behind-the-scenes at how students are served at each location allowed me to build a better picture of this field I’m learning about at the University of Tennessee.
The biggest lesson of the trip, though, was that my preconceived notions of what I thought I’d see were so wrong. My assumption that a small, rural community college wouldn’t be as impactful for students as a large, urban institution was shattered. I realized that, sometimes, tradition and a tight-knit community makes for a group of amazing student leaders. And I’m going to take this lesson into the rest of my career. As I continue my education at the University of Tennessee, I’m going to look for the gems within the University that make this institution amazing. I can’t wait to find them.
Story written by Madison Merrifield, graduate student in the College Student Personnel program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies.