Change makers of NIRSA: Generations exhibiting critical hope | Athletic Business

Change Makers of NIRSA: Generations Exhibiting Critical Hope

Changemakers 2111 Promo 01 Wide

By Cara Lucia, NIRSA president

“When I think of the concept of being a change maker, I think of two things right away. First, I don’t believe the designations of change maker and leader have to be connected. While leaders often have a broader platform to initiate or facilitate change, I think the driving force behind being a change maker is the approach to the situation in which the individual finds themselves at a given time. I believe a change maker approach is the difference between being someone satisfied to ‘mind the store’ versus someone who is a creator (or builder).  In my own case, I have always looked for opportunities to use my skills, experiences, and passions to build something new, ‘to leave it better than I found it.’”

– Dr. Kevin Marbury, Vice President of Student Life at University of Oregon and Past President of NIRSA

Welcome to NIRSA's second episode in the Change Makers of NIRSA vlog series. The goal of the series is to create synergy around the concept of critical hope (hope with action) during times of change. Critical hope “demands that leaders take up the most difficult challenges, explore the most sensitive subjects, and raise the most daring questions (Preskill & Brookfield, 2009, p. 173).” Throughout the year I am sharing stories, insights, and resources from colleagues.

I must acknowledge that many of our members are engaging in change on the ground at their respective campuses and for the association – my hope is to highlight 20-24 members throughout the year to share their stories about how they are acting and contributing to profound changes on the ground.

In this second conversation, contributors include Michael “Mick” Deluca, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Campus Life at UCLA, Grachella Garcia, Associate Director Programming at the University of Alberta, Jasmine Holmes, Associate Director of Sports Programs at Syracuse University, Sarah Heemstra, RPAC Facilities Graduate Assistant at The Ohio State University and current NIRSA Student Leader, and Darryl Lovett, Associate Director at Florida State University.

Early in November, I engaged in dialogue with these five colleagues from across the profession to deconstruct the capacity for critical hope across generations. Some themes that emerge from our panelists are their ability to illustrate the importance of self-reflection, acknowledgment that stereotypes can misguide our work, a need for more learning across generations, a willingness to nurture interpersonal relationships, approaches to intergenerational conflict resolution, creating strategies to address multigenerational conflict, and a shared sense of being inspired by others through the complexity of our daily work on our campuses.

As collegiate recreation professionals, we can take some time to reflect and consider the following:

  • We have five generations in the workplace and not only in the workplace, but also in our families, at the places we work out, at our church, mosque, or synagogue, and present at other social activities.
  • People are living longer, working longer, and overall engaging in various activities longer.
  • Listening to the stories of someone else’s lived experience can impact our own learning and understanding.
  • Critical hope is exhibited across the perceived generational divides.
  • Challenging our assumptions about what we believe to be true about generational cohorts will be important as we continue to navigate the influx of change in the higher education landscape.

I believe you will see the reflections of the above expressed in the many sentiments shared by our five colleagues. I would like to thank Mick, Grachella, Sarah, Jasmine, and Darryl for taking time to be a part of our second vlog for the Change Makers of NIRSA series. 

Be the change

My hope is we continue to listen, learn, do better and inspire each other to be change makers exhibiting critical hope. Most importantly let us remember to be the change the world needs to create and sustain healthy communities.

Be well NIRSA family and be the change.


If making positive change—on your campus or in the campus recreation profession—is something you are interested in learning more about, I’d invite you to explore the following resources:

Cara Lucia is currently an associate professor at Elon University and serves as the 2021-2022 NIRSA president.

Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
AB Show 2022 in Orlando
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Learn More
AB Show