I remember the day I received the syllabus for my Analysis of Variance class last Fall and thinking “How will I ever be able to do this? I’m not good with math, and this looks like a LOT of math”. I had done well in my first year of coursework and was making progress on my research goals, but those classes were all about student affairs and qualitative research, topics that I was comfortable with talking and writing about. Analyzing variance was a whole different story.

I immediately felt a sense of relief when I walked into class on the first day and saw several of my CSAA classmates already there. These were people who I had already had many classes with, and who I knew were probably experiencing some of the same anxiety that I was. From that first day of class to studying for the final, I always knew I could go to Joan, Justin, Jason, or Emmie if I ever had any questions or just needed some positive support. There were many late night Skype sessions and phone calls spent discussing homework and preparing for exams, and trying to relate what we were learning in this class to what we were learning in other classes. There were also a lot of laughs and entertaining memes exchanged as well. I don’t think it was an accident that all of us did well in the class, because of all the work we did with each other and collectively And even after the course, I felt closer to these people and shared a connection with them that continued even as we took different classes.

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This semester, I am taking the 2nd required quantitative class, Applied Correlation and Regression. Even though I had been successful in the first class, I began to get nervous when I started to ask some of my classmates and none of them were taking the class. I experienced a lot of relief on the first day of class this semester when I saw two of my CSAA colleagues in the class. It has been a challenging semester, with a lot of new content, but again the connections forged in CSAA have helped me get through this class with an ease that continues to surprise me. I always check in with Joan every weekend to see how the homework is going, and Jason and I have had several helpful (and frequently entertaining) conversations about the class and how it fits in with all the other things we are learning and experiencing.

There are a lot of things that have been important to my success as a scholar in this program. We have incredible and dedicated faculty and staff who are always willing to assist or just be a cheerleader when that is needed. But for me, by far the most important part of my success has been the relationships I have formed with my fellow student scholars. We have celebrated milestones, supported each other through difficult life transitions, and everything in between. Especially in classes outside of the program where I have not felt as sure of my knowledge or experience, without fail my classmates and I have always been there for support, shared venting, and I would never be where I am without them.

If you are reading this and considering joining our community of practice, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to do so. From the very first day of orientation, I have been amazed at the diversity of thoughts and approaches to learning that I have experienced in so many different classes and settings. My view of the field of student affairs and what it means to be a student affairs professional has been expanded greatly and reinvigorated my passion to advocate for students and their success. A doctoral journey can be an intense experience, but in CSAA you are never walking the road alone.

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