Connectivity among communities within student affairs and higher education has increased with the presence of such forums as StudentAffairs.com and the Student Affairs Collective, each providing a myriad of resources, blogs, and up-to-date information. Additionally, a number of twitter threads are used for discussion and enhancing connectedness such as #SAchat every Thursday afternoon and evening; #EMchat for substantive Enrollment Management discussion; #SAtech for student affairs and technology conversations; and #SAdoc for engagement between student affairs and higher education doctoral candidates. Even professional conferences have unique online communities, #NASPA15 or #ACPA15 for example, that provide digital congregation for participants or members of the higher education and student affairs community who are not able to attend, but still desire connection.
One of the growing and unique digital space holders is the population of Student Affairs Graduate Students, known online as the #SAgrad community. While there are a number of well-established digital citizens among experienced student affairs professionals, the#SAgrad community provides a hint at the future of what is to come in the digital space. These highly active and digitally engaged graduate students meet on Sundays at 8pm EST for the #SAgrad chat, and represent an array of unique approaches to developing digital identity as a student affairs graduate student. Among many stellar #SAgrad Social Media Sensations, here a few to pay attention to:
- Craig Bidimanis a first-generation college student from Keizer, Oregon who is currently a Higher Education graduate student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Craig currently serves as the Social Media manager for StudentAffairs.com, and for the UMatter at UMass campus care initiative at UMass Amherst. Craig moderates the Sunday evening #SAGrad chats and is a regular guest blogger for SA Collective, Feminists in Student Affairs, and NASPA Technology Knowledge Community. Craig has an active Instagram that focuses on journeys with vinyl collecting, John Cena, and Craig’s tuxedo cat. You can learn all about Craig’s robust digital presence on craigbidiman.com and craigbidiman.blogspot.com.
- Rebecca Windoveris a member of the NASPA IV-E New Professionals and Graduate Students Leadership team and serves on the joint task force for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Student Athletic Knowledge Community. Currently completing her graduate degree in Higher Education Administration at Kent State University, Rebecca has dedicated much of her writing in the blogosphere to giving voice to the LGBT student student-athlete experience and exploring purpose and meaning in student leadership. Rebecca is also co-Founder of #SAFitChallenge and has written a number of guest blogs for the Student Affairs Collective and has discredited the notion of the “dumb jock” through her writing.
- Junior Pena is a first-year graduate student in the Higher Education program at Florida State University. Junior is passionate about social justice issues, and often peruses social media to keep up with this topic. Junior advises his colleagues to check out Josie Ahlquist who Junior says “always has great things to share in digital education.” Junior also says that “Trina S. Tan is another gem, and as a fellow #SAGrad I can’t help but enjoy her content.” After finding inspiration to blog, Junior’s first blog post, #SAReflects Finding My Voice In Student Affairs was written for the Student Affairs Collective. Junior is an active Twitter participant on #SAGrad, #SAChat, #SLChat, and #FSUFriday You can also find Junior on LinkedIn.
- Amber Hurtis currently a second-year #SAgrad at Hofstra University, works as an Assistant Resident Director, and serves as an intern at Nassau Community College. Amber, an active Twitter user, is a weekly participant in the #SAgrad, #SAchat & #SLchat conversations and has written blogs about her experience as a graduate student and being an introverted #SAgrad. Amber has also blogged about herexperience job searching as an #SAgrad.
- Erin Hensleyis a second-year graduate student in the Higher Education and Student Affairs program at Indiana University. Erin’s new website is growing and will be a forum for discussion around Erin’s research in digital education. Erin has Guest blogged for Student Affairs Collective for the #SABeginnings series and written aboutStudent Involvement. Erin was recently approved to conduct a research study with four colleagues on Yik Yak and how students at Indiana University engage using the platform. You can find Erin on Twitter where she is active on #SAchat and #SAgrad chats. As part of her graduate assistant position, Erin supervises student social media efforts on Twitter (@PLpicks) and Facebook, noting that work with her students has yielded increases in followers and visibility by 161% and 62%, respectively, on each forum. Erin has also published in the Mid-Atlantic Association of College and University Housing Officers Magazine and participated in the Spring 2014 StudentAffairs.com Virtual Case Study Competition.
As we prepare the next wave of leaders to complete their graduate programs and enter the higher education work force, we must remember that digital presence can be a tremendous tool for success. The commitment to digital education has become such a critical component of student engagement that in 2014, the president of the American College Personnel Association created a Digital Task Force to “develop a multi-prong approach for educators, with the primary objective being to advance the application of digital technology in higher education informed by student affairs scholarship and practice.” It is important to remember that graduate learning and connectivity extends beyond traditional classroom or conference settings. The digital citizens above are leaders among the online community that exists for #SAgrads, and will continue to expand our field with ideas, creativity, and digital savvy. The #SAgrad community is digitally ready and we must be prepared to receive, support, and engage every member.