Nathanial Garrod

A Whole New Term

I am Schroedinger’s box of stress lately – both relaxed and stressed at the same time as I head into the start of fall term at work. On one hand, I just celebrated my six-year anniversary at PSU – I am feeling calmer and more collected in my work than I have ever before. More clarity on what is important to me as I grow as a person and in this work.

Creating points of connection and engagement for students to build community and create shared knowledge is more clearly important than ever before. On the stressed side, there is so much work to be done – so much more than I will ever be able to do as one person. Learning how to accept what I cannot do, how to light the spark in others, how to let go of what cannot happen is a part of my stress.

I am so excited to welcome back students – the summertime grind of review, analysis and prep has me a bit impatient this year. Just last week, I coordinated training for a group of students I supervise. The week before we started onboarding a student employee into another position I supervise. These trainings have been fun – but also challenging, as I work to let go of feeling like I have to be physically present for everything I manage while still trying to create connections with the students I supervise.

The School of Business Welcome Table in Fall 2015 – this was in our old building!

My main responsibility during the first week of term is coordinating efforts of our faculty, staff and students to have a welcome table at the front of the building. This is the fifth fall term I have run the welcome table, and it is bigger than ever! I am so proud of how it has really taken off. What started as mostly me sitting at a table, sharing a wide range of fliers and information with a limited amount of coffee and snacks has become A Thing – this year I have worked all summer with colleagues across our building to make connections and bring in donations.

I convinced my coworker Ashley to pose with me for this photo in Fall 2017 – I believe this was our first year in the new building, which has been a catalyst for the enthusiasm our faculty, staff and students have for this event!

As this welcome table has grown in style, in popularity, and in donations, the logistics around it have grown – what used to be my coming in on Monday to get food set up is now a multi-day process, starting with me making sure I have what I need as early as the Tuesday before the first week of term starts.

What is particularly outstanding about this year is the volume and variety of donations we have received – energy drinks, kombucha, large quantities of fruit, bagels, donuts, coffee, muffins — and this is just what I know of. Often, someone will just show up with some thing they feel compelled to share with our students partway through the week.

Running this table is one of the most energy-consuming and rewarding parts of my job – the enthusiasm and gratitude our students have for a free cup of coffee and snack is such a great reminder that the small, simple things really make a huge difference. Also, I spend close to 12 hour days at work, Monday through Friday, so if you do not see or hear from me much online this week, that’s why.

I am hoping to be able to share some stories from the week at the end of the week, and also share a bit about some of the other projects I get to work on.

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This entry was posted on September 29, 2019 by in Student Affairs, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .

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