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Careers in Student Affairs Promoted by OSI

By Annah Freudenburg, Staff Writer

Graduate interns Christina Fritz and Mark Campbell work on OSI plans in the Student Resource Room. Photos by Allison Tinsey.

The Office of Student Involvement (OSI), located in the Hicks Center may be unfamiliar to many students. However, most know of their efforts. Fliers for Zoo After Dark, Wind Down Wednesdays, and Zoo Flicks color campus.

These events and activities are all the products of OSI. The Index spoke with Mark Campbell and Christina Fritz, both Graduate Assistants of the Offices of Student Involvement about the work they do.

The Office of Student Involvement works primarily in student affairs. “Student affairs focuses on active learning, which helps students focus on their own experiences with co-curricular activities,” said Campbell. This would include a student being a member of a club or organization, or being involved in lead- ership opportunities. “Essentially it’s student development outside the classroom,” Fritz embellished.

Student affairs is a very broad field and offers many career paths: “Some of the well known ones are resident directors, area coordinators.” Campbell said, naming a few. “You can work in student activities, such as the office of student involvement, academic advising, career services or career counseling. There’s also a sect of student affairs that has a research component.”

For students interested in pursuing a career in student affairs after undergraduate ism complete, the next step is to apply to a graduate program to earn a masters degree in higher education in student affairs.

“All of the graduate assistants at Kalamazoo College are part of the Higher Education in Student Affairs (HESA) program over at Western Michigan University,” Campbell said.

Western is only one of many schools across the country that offers graduate programs in student affairs. The programs are typically two years in length, but may go longer.

“I never planned on doing students affairs, which is a very common story. No one knows student affairs exists until it happens!” Campbell exclaimed.

OSI has hosted up to 17 events in ten days and has even more planned. “Homecoming is coming up,” Fritz said, “so we’ll have a lot of fun events leading up to that weekend.”

In regards to movies, they have just set up an email account allowing students to send in suggestions for what is to be seen on Channel 22 as well as at Zoo Flicks.

Moreover, there will be new occa- sions for student involvement: “Coming up this fall we have Emerge Into Leadership,” informed Campbell, “which will be for first-year students who want to be involved with leadership.” The applications for this opportunity should be available towards the end of October.

The Multiplier Effect: Entrepreneurship by Accident

By Colin Lauderdale, Contributor

Bridgett Blough ‘08 is the owner and operator of The Organic Gypsy, one of a growing handful of food trucks in Kalamazoo.  The Organic Gypsy straddles the realms of small-scale, local agriculture and downtown service industry, which allows Blough to make her living exactly how she wants: nourishing bodies and growing a resilient local economy in southwest Michigan.

Blough calls what she’s doing “living the multiplier effect,” and firmly believes that the growing local food economy in Kalamazoo is the city’s path to prosperity.  “Small businesses,” she says, “are what drive local economies.  Local communities stay together and healthy and vibrant through local small businesses.”

Blough graduated from Kalamazoo in 2008 with a degree in economics.  She looks back on college fondly, but can’t quite figure out how much of her success as a small business owner is attributable to her college education, and how much to her own identity as a “creative solution finder.”

K does not necessarily have a strong technical curriculum for entrepreneurship.  But, according to Dr. Tim Moffit, Associate Professor of Economics and Business, the College does have a strong tradition of producing entrepreneurs.  “Probably our most effective business outcome is entrepreneurship – by accident.”

Moffit chalks this up to strong self-selection (K students are motivated, hardworking risk-takers) and a global, liberal arts curriculum.  “Mix an ambitious, overachieving student with holistic thinking, and you get an entrepreneur.”

Moffit refers to Blough’s entrepreneurial way of thinking as “genetic.”  As much as she has used her K education as an asset, she brought an awful lot to the table when she came to college.  She comes from a large family with parents, aunts, uncles and siblings who have all started their own businesses.  “Career-wise,” she says, “it always made sense that I would become an entrepreneur.”

Many aspects of Blough’s K education haven’t contributed directly to her work.  Her economics degree didn’t include a single marketing class.  Much of the material covered in her courses was “a lot of fluff” – highly theoretical, lacking in technical skills or concrete details.  She estimates that, from all the economic terms she learned in her major, she uses about five on a daily basis.

But she also credits K for helping her develop into the entrepreneur she is today.  A small business owner needs a diverse skill set, creative problem-solving ability, and effective strategies for coping with stress.  Kalamazoo College was fertile ground for developing those skills.

Blough identifies one skill in particular as critical to her work: “Being able to see small, right in front of you, and then lift your head up to see big.  In my truck, I’m making an awesome tomato sandwich for you today and it’s nourishing your body, but it’s also part of something much bigger.  What I really learned at K is we’re part of something much bigger.”

This is the first installment in our series on the effects of Kalamazoo College’s education in the City of Kalamazoo.