Saturday, May 26, 2012

End of the Year: Joy & Sadness

If you are a weekly follower, you have noticed that I have been out of pocket this month... What can I say - life got busy and, to be honest, a little overwhelming. The Assistant Director in our office left his position with less notice than anticipated, I made my annual trek out to Indiana to work with the Community at Purdue, we completed a national hiring process, wrapped up the end of the year, graded finals & entered grades for 5 course sections - this list goes on! I will resume weekly (Thursday) publishing in July - with periodic updates between now and then.

Today, as I attended the Student Affairs Award Brunch, I was reminded that I have the privilege to sit in the midst of greatness fairly often. Today, as we celebrated a select few, I was struck by how much these young men and women have accomplished. How much they have given to the University of San Diego. How much my year would have been different without knowing them and working with them. As was shared this morning, Commencement is the beginning. There are many of you that I did not see today that have been a joy to me this past year. I am honored to have known and worked with those that are receiving their degrees from the University of San Diego this weekend. I will miss you, and I cannot wait to see what this new beginning brings for you!

With Love,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Making the Enemy Human

An interesting thought was shared with me last weekend. We were talking about the Greek Discipline Board and the challenge that comes when you serve as the resource and the accountability for our community. A fraternity leader who I know, but haven’t worked closely with said, “You know, Mandy, that the 10% of Greek Life that works with you thinks you’re great.” Umm – thanks? Is that like an approval rating?
My family at Easter.

While sad and startling to heard it verbalized, he speaks the truth. It is not uncommon for me to meet women and men in our community and have them look utterly perplexed that I look like a normal, regular human being. No horns, no pitchfork, no black cape of doom. Weird. On occasion, I have the opportunity to win them over with some genuine conversation. And, on rare occasion, I have the opportunity to ask them where they learned the lesson of “who is Mandy Womack?”. Sheepishly they will usually concede that it is just a part of their chapter culture, or new member program. Not a structured lesson kind of way, but an understood principle that: The Enemy=The Administration=Mandy Womack.

Over the course of the past year, I have shared things about my experience, my fears, my family with you on this blog. As a general rule, I live life with my heart on my sleeve and fairly open to relationships with people. I invite you, our Community, into my life. I have included several photos so you can have a little peek into my life. I welcome the chance to become ‘human’ to you. In an attempt to Make The Enemy Human, I would like to share with you about my vocation, my call. For some of you, you are preparing to leave USD. You are searching for your vocation. For others, it is the beginning of your journey. It is my honor to accompany some of you on those journeys.

Vocation and calling are a “full life” affair. The apostle Paul shared in Ephesians 4, "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you've received." Worthy is a Greek word describing a scale. On one side is your call, on the other is your life... They are to be in balance with one another. The weight of my call requires a genuine life worthy of that call. In leadership we often call it congruence or authenticity. For me, it is my soul.
Finding my passion was something that came to me in a fairly direct way... I was a highly involved, at times to the decline of my academic work, undergraduate. My greatest learning and growth came from my co-curricular experience. I was elected as the President of an organization that oversaw 1500+ members of our sorority community – and I realized something. I realized that I truly believed in what we were doing. Living in a way to make the world better, serving others, caring for each other. Yes! I had hit the jackpot. As this was unfolding, I was volunteering as a tutor at our local elementary school. The more I volunteered, the more I realized that being an elementary education major was not where I wanted to spend the rest of my days. In fact, it got to the point where I realized that I may not want kids of my own if I continued to do this work.
In the midst of this was one of my toughest realities. Earlier this year, I shared with you the story of my friend Katie. Her death, and the community response affirmed my decision to have my vocation be Greek Life. My call was to help others see how much can happen through being a member of a fraternity or sorority. I remember clearly standing in initiation in the kitchen of the Theta house and really hearing the words of our creed, the words of our oath and thinking – “This is it!” So, how did a despairing 2nd semester Junior resolve the dilemma of realizing I was in the wrong major? Once I determined I wanted to work as a fraternity advisor, I knew I needed to go to graduate school. So, I finished out my degree and immediately began a Master’s in Counseling program.
Over the years my passion and vocation have grown to encompass more. Not a change - as I still really believe that when done right, the fraternal experience is among the most outstanding opportunities. But, my vocation has matured and grown in depth to the development of students. I clearly remember among my first years here, receiving a thank you letter from a chapter president named Dara. According to his letter, I was more to him than an advisor, I was his teacher, his mentor, his rock when managing all I had already experienced.
Each day, I have a chance to really change someone's experience. And, when I am open to those moments, I know that I am doing exactly what God created me to do. It can be exhausting and tiring work. Sometimes, exceedingly repetitive. But, it is life-giving to know that maybe, just maybe I am allowing someone that moment that I had during initiation all those years ago. And, that, my friends brings me back here each and every day.
This weekend, take care of yourself. Take care of each other. Take care of this place. I believe in you.