Personal Journey Portfolio
Orientation and Fall of Freshman Year
CAN I belong here?
Beyond Courtney, however, it took me a long time to develop solid friendships - most of the year in fact. It was hard to feel like I had a niche on campus. Some reasons I see for this were because the culture was rather preppy- wealthy students were the most visible population on campus, and the seeming majority. The girls would join sororities and buy fancy, expensive clothes and bags. Their hair always looked great. They made me feel very self-conscious, and I began to dress up to go to class. Unlike what my high school friends reported from their colleges, sweatpants were not a normal part of Gettysburg girls' wardrobes. Additionally, Greek culture was the center of social life on campus, and I did not want to spend weekends partying in a frat basement and getting drunk. That made me uncomfortable. The very first night I arrived at school, I remember almost every girl in my hall getting dressed up to go out. I was completely clueless about Greek life (didn't even know the term at that time) and had not brought one single dress with me to college! I didn't feel like I had much in common with these wealthy party-hard sorority girls. It was hard when many friends started rushing sororities, and I wanted no part of it, because then they suddenly had mysterious sorority things to talk about and I could not be a part of those conversations.
It would have been nice to have a mentor on campus. Reflecting on Baxter-Magolda (2002)'s idea of good company and tandem bicycles, and how administrators/professors/residence staff/etc. can be good company by helping students "navigate complexity with tools for exploration and structures for decision-making," I think I would have definitely benefited from having someone help me work through my feelings of isolation and loneliness, to suggest campus groups and resources that I wasn't aware of, and to help give me perspective on what I was feeling and what kinds of decisions I was making (or avoiding). I made the image below full of quotes that spoke to me when I was upset during the fall of freshman year, and kept it as my computer wallpaper for the rest of the year to keep me inspired to stick it out and hope that things would get better.
Sophomore Year: Moving Past the Crossroads
SCCAP, Inc. volunteering
Became the Logistics Chair, Colleges Against Cancer club
Friends at Relay for Life
SCCAP, Inc. volunteering
Became the Logistics Chair, Colleges Against Cancer club
Psychosocial Identity Development
This was also the Presidential election year and the first time I would be old enough to vote. Following the progression of speeches and interviews leading up to election day, and considering what I had learned from Sociology and History, I realized that I was now more politically liberal than my parents and no longer could be in the same party as they were. The values of that party did not represent my own values on how women, minorities, and LGBTQ people should be regarded, and how problems should be solved. This political difference remains a slight wedge between my dad and I to this day, but I am resolved in my values and beliefs and know that my stance is genuinely my own.
Gender Identity Development: Gender Schemas and the College Experience
I did change the nature of my relationship with faith in two important ways in college. One, I started praying every single night- no matter how exhausted I was- before I would let myself go to sleep. College was emotionally and intellectually challenging, and I found myself clinging more to my belief in God than ever before to help me get through and to anchor myself when life seemed out of control. My faith became more of a private affair than a public one, and I began using my understandings of my faith to make meaning of events in my life and what was happening around the world. Aligning myself with Parks' (2000) model, I'd place myself firmly in the Individuative-Reflective stage by senior year of college. The second change in the nature of my relationship was part of the transition from Parks' Synthetic-Conventional stage to the Individuative-Reflective stage. As I've mentioned earlier, my Sociology, History, and WGS (Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies) classes helped me become a more critical thinker. My Intro to WGS class prompted me to start questioning some of the tenants of what I had been taught about Christianity in church. Particularly, one of the first articles we read for the Intro class was about ancient matriarchal cultures and how they had female gods and how women were so highly respected. History classes were simultaneously discussing the influence of cultural ideologies on how we write about and interpret history. All this added up to my new understanding of our cultural interpretation of Christianity, and recognition of the historical and cultural influences that undoubtedly affected how the Bible was written: which scriptures were included and which were left out, what kind of language was used. Learning about sociohistorical context has made me more liberal in my interpretation of the Bible. But while I question some details, I still maintain my overall faith.
Since moving to Virginia Beach, one of my goals is to find a church community my husband and I can be a part of. For me personally, I really want to find that community and join young adult bible study groups or some other small group. Discussing and analyzing the Bible in the company of others is currently really appealing to me. I'm curious about how others interpret passages, and looking forward to finding new friends in a new community. It's been a while since I've been to church, and I'm finding that I miss it and want to reconnect.
I remember being eight years old, sitting on the floor of my family's living room, and thinking "what do I want to be when I grow up?" and having no idea except that I didn't want to be a vet (as much as I loved animals, once I found out how many years of school it took to become a vet, that career path was out). By the time I entered college, I still had no idea, and was completely undecided about a major, but expected that I would figure out my major and finally figure out my career before graduating. Well, I figured out my major, but graduated with only an idea that maybe I'd become a High School Counselor. I knew enough about myself to know that I wanted to be in a helping profession. I was and am idealistic and I wanted to make a difference in people's lives. I'm a good listener and peacemaker. I'm friendly and approachable. These qualities fit a School Counselor, but I wasn't convinced that being a School Counselor was the career for me, and I would later discover a new career path I hadn't even known existed.
Despite my disappointment with not finding my magic, perfect career by the time I graduated, I had done a lot of work during college in terms of Chickering & Reisser (1993)'s Developing Purpose vector of identity development. Through my classes, extracurriculars, and work experience, I realized that whatever career I ended up in, I wanted it to be working with and helping people. Having a helping role, especially helping people less fortunate than me, was a value that became firmly entrenched in my self-concept. I decided to pursue a position with a college access organization helping underserved high school students get to college because although college had its challenges, I was extremely grateful for the chance to experience college and all it's opportunities for growth and discovery. I wanted to help other young people have that experience and those opportunities too. If I hadn't gone to college, I don't know what I'd be doing right now. I think that urge to help people would still be there, but I wouldn't be adequately equipped to do so. College helped me to find a life direction. Higbee (2002) wrote about her college experience and Chickering and Reisser (1993)'s vectors. On Developing Purpose, she reflected that while some people work to live, she lives to work. Her work is an important part of her identity. Without realizing it, I have built up this same link between work and identity since I was little: I want the work I do to reflect who I am, how I see myself, and what is important to me. That is the basis of the decisions I make about not only my career, but what volunteer work and causes I involve myself in.
Awareness of My Privilege
Using Theory in Practice: Good Company as an Adviser
Present Day and Moving Forward: Moving Toward Self-Authorship
Abes, E.S., Jones,S.R., & McEwen, M.K. (2007). Reconceptualizing the model of multiple dimensions of identity: The role of meaning-making capacity in the construction of multiple identities. Journal of College Student Development, 48(1), 7.
Baxter-Magolda, M.B. (2002). Helping students make their way to adulthood: Good company for the journey. About Campus, 6(6), p. 2-9. doi: 10.1002/abc.66
Baxter-Magolda, M.B. (2009). Authoring your life: Developing an internal voice to navigate life's challenges. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.
Bem, S.L. (1983). Gender schema theory and its implications for child development: Raising gender-aschematic children in a gender-schematic society. Signs, 8(4), 598-616.
Evans, N. J., Forney, D. S., Guido, F. M., Patton, L. D., & Renn, K. A. (2010). Student development in college: Theory, research, and practice (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Feagin, J.R., Vera, H. & Batur, P. (2001). White racism: The basics (2nd. ed). New York: Routledge.
Fowler, J. W. (2000). Becoming adult, becoming Christian: Adult development and Christian faith. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gilligan, C. (1990). In a different voice: Psychological theory and women's development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP.
Higbee, J. L. (2002). The application of Chickering's theory of student development to student success in the sixties and beyond. Research and Teaching in Developmental Education 18(2), 24-36. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/42802531
Josselson, R. (1996). Revising herself: The story of women's identity from college to midlife. New York: Oxford UP.
Myers, S. A. (2010). Using the Perry scheme to explore college student classroom participation. Communication Research Reports, 27(2). DOI: 10.1080/08824091003738016
Storey, K. L. (2010). Bridging the gap: Linking co-curricular activities to student learning outcomes in community college students (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Database. (UMI number 3403863.)