As I was carrying a heavy box out of a building at work, a young man, a senior, asked if he could help me. I politely said "no, my car is too far", he insisted and one of the students I advise, said, he's a friend... so I said ok. As we politely made conversation and walked to my car, he made quite the impact. I often ask students in interviews, what's the one thing you want to be remembered for... how do you want to leave your paw print at FIU... he definitely left his in a 5-7 minute walk to my car.
As we walked, I asked him questions and then he asked me some questions. We talked about the fact he's lived all over the east coast. I told him I lived in New York. I asked him why he came back home- he talked about the magic he knew FIU has and the fact he knew he would get more from the people he would meet at FIU than any other fancy school. I asked him about his school involvement, he answers me saying ma'am at the end of each sentence. I asked him his major and if he had a job, he said "oh you just ask because of what I'm wearing". He was dressed in nice dress pants, black dress shirt and a red tie. I said no, just making conversation, but then my criousity got the best of me and I asked, "why are you dressed so professionally?" He then explained that he thinks it's like opening a present at Christmas time, the gift in the poor wrapping paper won't get the attention the one in the beautiful wrapping will and he shared that he knows in his daily travels he may meet individuals who can really help him, he wants to help them open the door for him by portraying himself in the most impressive package. Such an interesting thing to share- humbling in a way that fact that he understands that everyone that is placed in front of us, may in fact be there to open a window for him. Understanding that the window can turn into a door if you present yourself in the best way possible, and actually practicing this makes me confident that this student is headed towards great success!
Aside from asking me a little about myself, ie. Was I a student (so nice of him) or a professor (I was wearing a jacket all professional today, also very nice to hear) I told him what I do- he asked me why I do it... I told him how I loved working with students, I love planning events and I love helping students develop and supporting them in their goals to gain success in life.
As we were approaching my car, he asked me, what is the one thing you are crazy about doing... He really gave me something to think about... A doctoral degree, more travel, having that second baby- (not yet, I said immediately!) I told him I didn't know, but that he definitely gave me something to think and dream about! He then shared with me to figure it out and do it, because many people continue to move up in their companies, but never really LIVE... such wonderful insight. I've always been fortunate to move around as needed from job to job and city to city, but my career, specifically my career in higher education has always maintained top priority, behind my family of course, but still way at the top. Now that I have been encouraged to 'live life to the fullest' my reasons for my passion for working with students in higher education has become even more clear because of this wonderful student.
I gave him my business card and invited him to email me to get info on some of our upcoming professional development opportunities. I explained how by coming to our alumni events, I would possibly do just what he had hoped to accomplish, put him in front of someone who may be able to open doors for him... He truly impressed me with his honesty and charisma. At the end, I went to shake his hand and thank him for carrying the heavy box. He said he was more of a hugger and gave me a hug.
I came home and he had already emailed me, stating it was nice to meet me. It's evident that he is going places.