I started the master’s program in Student Affairs Administration at Baylor with an end in mind: I was only returning to school for two years, then I would be back in a professional position in higher education, impacting students’ lives daily. I knew I could communicate with students in a way they understood, and I wanted to continue to impact them as much as possible. Pursuing a master’s degree was the way I could succeed in this field.
Not long into the first year, I began to consider that I might, someday, further my education. I might want to research and write, or hold a position that required a doctorate. My passion for working directly with undergraduate students had not lessened, but a new passion was rising in my heart. In our classes we had read a few articles by men and women who were considered "prophets" of higher education. These individuals were on the forefront of research, knowledgeable about the history of academia, and knowledgeable about students and student development. They wrote about how higher education could adapt to continue to impact
I started imagining myself in one of those roles: researching and writing to impact the field of student affairs and the practice of higher education. Despite my thoughts, I was surprised when one of my professors suggested that I should consider PhD work after I graduated from Baylor. I was even more surprised to realize I was considering it. Suddenly, I was on a new path and though it was a little unnerving, it seemed right. I applied for and was accepted into a PhD program at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in Higher Education and Organizational Change.
This summer my master’s colleagues began careers at colleges and universities across the country. They are working as leadership coordinators, residence hall directors, and academic advisors, among many other roles. They are helping students navigate their college paths on a daily basis. In a few years, I will be doing this as well. I plan to finish my PhD and continue working professionally, eventually serving a university as a Dean or Vice-President of student life. While working in these roles, I plan to serve the field of higher education at-large through research and writing.
Ultimately, I hope that my impact on students will be far-reaching. I hope students will take their college experiences and translate them into productive and God-honoring lives. But I also hope that I will impact other professionals in the field: helping them continuously improve the way they work with students and providing them with research and writing that applies to the work they are doing.
Baylor University has impacted and improved me. My interactions with faculty in the School of Education and staff in the division of Student Life taught me that I was far more capable and had a bigger future than I had ever imagined. I hope my impact on students and professionals will be to teach them the same.
WEB EXTRA: To see comments from some of Tiffani's instructors, please visit www.baylor.edu/soe/impact.