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Change Makers of NIRSA: Unshakable Hope Through Empowerment

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By Cara Lucia, NIRSA

“Though it has been said that ‘courage is not the absence of fear,’ our future success in collegiate recreation must focus on the possibilities instead of fears and barriers.  We must have the courage and passion to free our imaginations and create actionable outcomes that better the good of the whole – the whole person, the whole organization, the whole community, and the whole profession.  Being a change maker means to be intentional in shaping our future.  A future that is inclusive and just. It is important that we are unanchored from the complacency of the past.  Instead, using our past learnings and successes as the foundation and guidepost towards building that better tomorrow – continually shaping and changing the landscape around us.  We do this through engaging and empowering others with empathy and unlocking our social entrepreneurial spirits to change and better our community, practice, profession, and ourselves.”  – Bill Crockett, Executive Director, Division of Student Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore

Welcome to our last vlog of the Change Makers of NIRSA series. The goal of the series over the year was to create and ignite synergy around the concept of critical hope (hope with action) during times of change. My hope, no pun intended, is that the idea of hope is much deeper than the surface level of us throwing around the term. My hope is that sharing hope this year, if even only a little bit, has been a gift for all of us. Understanding that hope isn’t always naïve but can be critical and sustained. We’ve shared hope during the pandemic, exposure to racial injustice, the great resignation (or reshuffling), and even our personal lives and relationships over the past year. It is not easy. We must be patient, acknowledge mistakes, celebrate steps forward, and sustain hope in one another.

Remember, 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 we have shared stories, insights, and resources with one another. I am excited to share one more Change Makers vlog about hope before I adjourn from my NIRSA presidency on April 30. I want to thank each of you, our members, colleagues, friends and family for engaging in change on the ground in our communities, respective campuses and in our Association.

This year we have conversed about hope with action, generations exhibiting critical hope, sharing ripples of hope, and sustaining hope. This month, I am excited to have with me colleagues who are exhibiting unshakeable hope by engaging and empowering others in this hope journey: I’m joined by Steve Bobbitt, Director, Campus Recreation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Jocelyn Hill, Director of Recreational Sports & Fitness at American University, Leigh Johnson, Fitness and Wellness Coordinator at Georgia Southern University, Paul Joseph, Coordinator of Sport Programs at University of Wisconsin- Madison, and Zack Sephton, Coordinator, Facilities & Operations at Queen’s University.

During the previous vlog, on sustaining hope, Dr. Augustus Hallmon, Assistant Professor at James Madison University shared a few passages from the book The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. Shortly after recording that conversation, I got a copy of the book and would like to share a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “I believe with a steadfast faith that there can never be a situation that is utterly, totally hopeless. Hope is deeper and very, very close to unshakable. It’s in the pit of your tummy. It’s not in your head. It’s all here (Archbishop Tutu points to his abdomen).”

Hope is something we feel in our gut, the feeling that something must be done, that we must share it with others, and sustain it within ourselves and those around us. I am excited for each of you to join me and our panelist to hear more about how they have been empowered and how they have empowered others to live out hope that is unshakable. I would like to thank Steve, Jocelyn, Leigh, Paul, and Zack for taking time to share some hope.

Let’s be unshakeable!

I hope we can continue to listen, learn, do better, and inspire each other to be change makers exhibiting critical hope. Even when we adjourn from roles and empower others let us remember that whatever role we play, our goal is to be the change the world needs to create and sustain healthy communities.

Be well NIRSA family and be the change,

Cara Lucia

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