Hi, my name is Meg Sunga and no, I’m not a glorified babysitter.
I’m also not a professional party planner nor a full-time grocery shopper. I’m a student affairs professional, and I’m oh so proud of it. For over eight years, I lived, breathed, and slept residence life, and now, as Presence’s Digital Education Creator, I continue to work on improving the lives of students and professionals.
Yet, the goals and responsibilities of #SAPros like me aren’t easy to explain. From planning programs to advising student leaders and managing extensive budgets, we do a little bit of everything. And I didn’t even mention ordering pizza… yet. (Oh, if only I had a nickel for every pizza I’ve ordered.)
So, despite my love for it, being a student affairs professional can sometimes feel lonely. Our friends, family members, and other folx outside the metaphorical walls of our campuses often don’t understand all the glorious things we do. Sometimes, students can’t wrap their heads around it either. (No, sorry, we’re not your personal assistants/tutors/finance managers/room cleaners.)
Basically, it can be hard to find folks who “get it.” Sure, we can chat with other #SApros on our own campuses, but they’re a rather limited group. We can connect with folx on social media, but it’s all too easy for stories and opinions to get misinterpreted online. And although conferences are great, they’re not exactly cheap — and just when you’ve started an awesome conversation, you have to run off to the next session.
So, my teammates at Presence and I are excited to offer something new. It is my pleasure to introduce you to… drum roll, please… Will There Be Food?!
Transcript follows at the end of this post.
Yup, it’s a podcast. And wait, before you roll your eyes at being recommended yet another resource, hear us out. Podcasts are different. Their on-demand nature means that you don’t need to plan out the perfect outfit, fill out a single travel request, or even commit to an exact time. Just press play and you can listen whenever, wherever — on your work commute, while wandering around campus, while cleaning out your ancient paper files, or even in your pajamas. (I won’t see you, so I can’t judge.)
Plus, podcasts allow you to hear from all sorts of people, not just those who happen to be right near you every day or who offer scripted advice during faraway conferences.
So, starting September 10, Will There Be Food? will be delivered to you fresh each week for the low low price of free. You’ll hear me interview SAPros across the country. But I won’t just be interviewing them about the very basics of their roles. Nope, you’ll never hear me ask, “So, what is a student activities director?” or “So, why does co-curricular involvement matter?” Snooze.
We’ll dive into the challenges, triumphs, and strategies of our complex work, focusing on the trending topics, innovative ideas, and taboo issues that I know you care about it.
You’ll hear advice about supporting students in recovery, addressing food insecurity, dealing with professional burnout, engaging transgender students, and oh so much more.
Each person I interviewed is crushing goals and engaging students left and right. But don’t be intimidated; they’re just like you — they’ve faced plenty of setbacks and know the roadblocks well.
And I don’t mean to spook you, but we have a special Halloween episode planned that’s sure to be a treat.
I hope you’ll listen in. Oh and P.S. the answer is “yes.” If you work in student affairs, there definitely will be food. I’m just sorry we can’t send pizza through iTunes.
Transcript: Season 1 Trailer
Meg Sunga: So, we’ve all been asked the question, “what exactly do you do?” I don’t know about you, but explaining what we do in student affairs can be super awkward. While our titles might say one thing, folks outside of our industry might see us as babysitters, party planners, or even glorified grocery shoppers. It’s kind of like that meme. You know, the one depicting what your friends and family think you do versus what you really do. But you know as well as I: As student affairs professionals, we do so much more than that.
Ashley Gaddy: They come into my office with an issue. They’re, they’re frustrated with whatever the case may be. First of all, I literally tell them “go off!” My office is the best space. Scream, yell, cry, whatever it is that you need. Because one thing I think that we’re not doing in higher ed, is we’re not allowing space for the emotional release.
Meg Sunga: Sometimes we can’t always plan ahead in our jobs, so we just have to go with the flow.
Edna Dominguez: We have to be flexible and help that person. Kind of hold them up, make that accommodation — not just the things that are called for legally, but the things are just the right thing to do, the ethical thing to do, the caring, the nurturing thing to do.
Meg Sunga: Sometimes our jobs can be really tough.
A.J. Guedouar: Ultimately just feeling like everything was so far out of your control, and something so severe and of such magnitude had happened and you’re just there and there’s, there’s no training that can prepare you for that. There was really no question in my mind that I didn’t want to do this anymore.
Meg Sunga: But, every now and then you get that feeling. You know the one!
Tara Strong: I feel like I live for that look. Like when that look happens, I’m like “yes!” And it’s like there are some students that take a very long time to get them to get that look, but when they get it you’re like, “boom, I’m done for the day. I’m going to Starbucks. I met my quota.”
Meg Sunga: Delivered to you by Presence, the higher ed tech company that’s here to make your job easier. This is Will There Be Food?, the student affairs podcast that — like your job — is so much more than free pizza. Starting September 10th, tune in each week as we get to explore a new topic in higher ed with humans in the industry.