Elba Pineda, Class of 2016
Practicum Site: Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience (MRULE), MSU
During the Spring 2015, I completed my practicum with the Multi-Racial Unity Living Experience (MRULE) program and the Intercultural Aides (ICAs). During the 2014-15 academic year, the MRULE and ICA supervisors started working towards fusing both programs. Intercultural Aides are students trained to bring topics of diversity, inclusivity, unity and different identities to the residence halls. They primarily cater to first year students and aid with their transition into MSU. As a person who is extremely passionate about working in an institution of higher education and social justice work, this opportunity was an amazing experience. As an intern, I got the opportunity to contribute to the fusion by putting together Teaching and Education Engaged Learning Opportunity (TEELOs), which are weekly trainings about different topics for ICAs. I also attended weekly round table discussions facilitated by the ICAs which created a space for students to talk about different controversial topics. My direct supervisor, Maggie, allowed me to also participate in staff meetings, lead ICA focus groups and gave me the autonomy to create my own experience. As a student and person, this opportunity provided me with the space I wanted to continue the work that got me into higher education. As a professional, this opportunity allowed me to grow. There is so much more work that needs to be done in institutions of higher education to create the spaces and provide the resources necessary for all students to succeed. I loved this opportunity so much, that I plan to continue working with these two programs this upcoming year.
Jessica Mestre, Class of 2015
Practicum Site: Office of Study Abroad, MSU
As a practicum student in the Office of Study Abroad, I gained a thorough understanding of how study abroad functions at one of the leading programs in the nation, and collaborated with the Faculty Learning Community on Teaching and Learning Abroad. I attended a wide range of meetings and conducted informational interviews to gain different perspectives on the various aspects of the office. I was also tasked with re-envisioning the faculty handbook which contains important information for faculty leading study abroad programs. Although the handbook project hit some road blocks and did not reach completion by the end of the semester, my experience working with the Faculty Learning Community was still insightful. I believe the most valuable aspect of my practicum was the relationship-building with colleagues in that office. My supervisor served as a reference when I secured my post-graduation job, and also encouraged me to present a poster tangentially related to my practicum at a national conference (which I just did!). Finding a position that balanced responsibility for a project with active learning about a new functional area proved to be a fantastic fit for me. Also note that this opportunity was not included in the list of available practicum positions, so I encourage future students to be willing to chart your own path to really explore your interests through the practica!
Chee Ia Yang, Class of 2015
Practicum Site: The Mosaic, Multicultural Unity Center at MSU
In the spring of 2014, I did a practicum with Mosaic, the Multicultural Unity Center at MSU. This practicum aligned with my interests in understanding diversity and multicultural work at a large, 4-year, public, research institution. Through this experience, I was able to delve deeper into my understanding of diversity and multicultural work and how it relates to social justice and inclusion. To facilitate my learning, I attended various activities and events through Mosaic, OCAT, and MRULE, and wrote weekly reflections about my experience. Through weekly one-on-one meetings, I identified what I have learned and how that contributes to my understanding of social justice and the role the university (including the offices) play in furthering its commitment to social justice.
The most meaningful learning I gained from this experience was the shared responsibility of the university in creating an inclusive environment for all students, the value of developing authentic relationships with individuals in this type of work, and the power of self-directed learning. Personally, through meaningful discussions with my supervisor, I learned how my many social identities influence my work with students. Additionally, I was challenged to rethink what I thought I knew about multicultural education. Overall, Mosaic introduced me to the different ways in which diversity and multicultural work are implemented.
This practicum experience helped me define for myself the type of work I would like to pursue in student affairs. Furthermore, the relationship I developed with my supervisor not only reinforced my approach to student affairs work, which is to prioritize student learning and development, but also taught me effective mentor-mentee relationship. This experience has been valuable to me in my personal and professional development and will continue to shape and inform my work in student affairs.