To the Complicated Women of Student Affairs: Thanks for Having Me

by Niki Messmore


For most of my life I’ve thrived from exposure to ‘strong women’ archetypes. At a young age I witnessed sexism (even if I didn’t quite have the words for it then) and I was in need of seeing someone like me, a girl, be a willful and fearless figure. It helped, of course, if they were awesome at martial arts (Buffy! Xena! My childhood heroes, forever).

As I grew older, female representation in non-stereotypical jobs and in the media became increasingly important. Our society is saturated with men overwhelmingly in positions of authority, from the leadership team of my alma mater while I was a student there to the fantasy books/films I love (…at least Tolkien gave us Eowyn…). It is sometimes very difficult  to imagine what is possible for my life when society dictates that my possibilities are limited.

Student Affairs shocked me when I entered graduate school. Surprisingly, even after being a highly involved student leader and service-learning staff member at my alma mater, I still held this lofty idea that student affairs was all about social justice – one of the core components of our field. I learned quickly that was not completely true.

That’s not to say that the field is not down with social justice, but it’s more so with words than action. Ultimately, student affairs is a profession that operates within institutions that were birthed through injustice (after all, who were the only folk to attend colonial colleges?). It’s difficult to move past that, especially when there are social attitudes that affect higher education. We don’t operate inside a vacuum. Not only does systemic oppression affect the profession, but the profession is made up of individuals who each have unique life experiences influenced by systemic oppression.

Still, I was surprised to learn that even though women make up the majority of student affairs employees, the majority of leadership positions are white and male. It’s frustrating to have this gap between our espoused goals and our enacted goals. And this is just one example of how the student affairs profession does perpetuate systemic oppression rather than tear it down.

This is a difficult truth to swallow when one desires to advance to leadership positions over time and has a love for something that isn’t always seen as women friendly, i.e. technology.

That’s why it is so important that I see other women-identified individuals who take leadership in the profession. Fearless women who challenge themselves and their peers. Intelligent and savvy women who bring new ideas into play and think outside our standard processes. Strong women who balance so much in their lives. Vulnerable women who share their successes and failures. Authentic women who call it like it is. Really, as Maggie Gyllenhall said at the Golden Globes, what is important to see is “complicated women“.

Complicated women-identified folks. (because recognition of the gender spectrum needs to be made)

I’ve had the pleasure of blogging on SAWTT since September 2013 and the opportunity to become introduced into this amazing group of women leaders in blogging and beyond. I am so excited to join Kathryn Magura as Co-Editor, and thankful for Kristen Abell for giving me this opportunity.

I look forward to working with SAWTT crew in this new role and learning more from this wonderful community of complicated women-identified folks. If you’re interested in blogging or just want to chat, tweet me up at @NikiMessmore.

To the Complicated Women of Student Affairs: Thanks for Having Me

Saying Goodbye – Sorta

by Kristen Abell

Just over four years ago, Brenda Bethman and I had the crazy idea to start up a blog that was all about student affairs women in technology. At the time, there seemed to be a dearth of them – in fact, other than my own, it was hard to find another, especially among mentions of technology blogs. Since then, there have definitely started to be more blogs by women about technology – in student affairs and beyond. It’s been exciting to see this transition – and even more exciting to be a part of it.

After four years of working with some incredible and amazing women, I have decided it’s time to give someone else a shot at co-running this blog. I can’t thank the bloggers I’ve worked with enough – they have all been spectacular to work with, and they are some of the most intelligent, insightful, and crazy awesome bloggers I know. Seriously – if you’re not reading them, you totally should be. So yeah, I’m stepping down from my editing duties on this blog and handing that off to someone else. A pretty fantastic someone else, actually – but I’ll let her tell you about that herself.

Because I’m me, I can’t quite let go completely, so I’ve opted to continue blogging here for at least a little while. And of course, if you miss me, you can always find me on the Twitters and the Facebook. But for now, I’m ready for a step back for me and a step forward for someone else. Thanks for reading us, and thanks to the women who blog for letting me be their editor for four years. Y’all rock.

Saying Goodbye – Sorta

Blog Prompt: What did you accomplish this year during Spring Break?

by Jennifer Keegin

Maybe you didn’t get an official Spring Break. I didn’t really. I had a day off here and there. My daughter’s daycare was closed for one day. Basically I had the office to myself for three days. It was wonderful and boring all at the same time. Here’s what I accomplished:

  • I was able to create an entire marketing campaign for a grant process that I finalized this semester. Logo, tagline, brochure – all done.
  • I was able to do some scheduling for our Facebook page. I put some time into populating our Pinterest page after putting together a Facebook advert so there would be new content everyday while trying to gain followers. A whole week’s worth of posts – done.
  • I downloaded two new apps to my iPhone.

First one – “Art My Kid Made“. I love it because it syncs with Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, and those who have the app. Kinda like Instagram for Moms. App is free.

Second one – “Clip Book“. I’ve been doing tons of reading and thought something that would allow to pull passages, quotes, etc. from a book would be cool. It also syncs with Evernote. (I just went Evernote Premium so there’s no more holding back, I save everything now). Here’s a video to demo. App does cost $1.99

  • Worked on the script for our podcast on Wednesday. Will be doing a book review of the book “Social Works” , which if you follow that link you’ll someone else’s opinion right away.

Yes, my accomplishments were more work oriented. At home there were more fails than accomplishments although learning follows in both directions. There’s the Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Fail and the “Pork-Roast-when-I-meant-to-make-a-Pot-Roast” incident, not to mention the egg dying disaster when my four year regressed and decided to eat one of the dye pellets. *Sigh*

So please feel free to use this prompt to share what you accomplished. Maybe you accomplished watching a whole season of Game of Thrones. Great job! It’s all good.

Blog Prompt: What did you accomplish this year during Spring Break?

Linkage Love: Being Happier

by Lauren Creamer

These past few months I have been on a mission to cultivate more happiness in my life. Generally, I am a positive, upbeat individual and tend to find the silver lining in all situations. I follow the mantras of “people are doing the best they can” and “you can’t change another person, but you can change your attitude.” But, I know that I can do better, and the following two sites have been helping me on my way to a greater happiness.

The Happiness Project chronicles one writer’s quest for everyday happiness over the course of an entire year. Each month Gretchen Rubin, NYC writer, tackels a new topic and sets resolutions for each subject. (Topics include boosting your energy, improving romantic relationships, strengthening parenting skills, etc.). While her focus is on the important themes in life, she improves her happiness through modification of small details. For example, one of the easiest ways to boost your energy everyday is to get eight hours of sleep. Shocking, I know. When you’re well rested, you’re a happier person. Improving romantic relationships? Stop nagging! If you want something done, sometimes it really is easier to do it yourself.

Gretchen encourages readers to create Ten Commandments of their own happiness. (Be Gretchen – one of hers; Be an Optimist Prime – one of mine). The key to her success, she says, is her resolutions chart. While it is easy to set resolutions, it is harder to hold yourself accountable. Her resolutions chart kept her focused on self-improvement each day.

Want to start your own Happiness Project? Check out her tutorial.

My second site? Happier. A site/app devoted to promoting daily happiness and positivity.  Did you know that multiple studies have proven that writing down three happy things each day reduces anxiety, increases happiness, helps people make healthier choices, and gives one a better night’s sleep? Now you do!

Their mission is simple: to spread happiness. While the site explains the science behind their goal, the app puts it into action. Happier will prompt you in the morning, afternoon, and at night to write about something great that happened to you that day. Having a rough time at work? Wish you were doing something you loved? Easy fix. Write about it on the app. Share it with friends and family. Happier is basically a mobile social networking site that is all about positivity. No negative comments. No Debbie Downers. Just happiness.

The only downside at the moment at that it is not available for Android phone. For those of you with iPhones, I highly suggest you download this app! If nothing else, the confetti that rains down after you post will make you smile.

And now I leave you with this: start your own happiness project. It doesn’t have to be as elaborate as Gretchen’s or something you chronicle on your smart phone, it just needs to be an expression of the things that make you happy. Focus on the good and shake off the negative. Be happier!

Linkage Love: Being Happier


by Kristen Abell

For those of you that know me or read my blog, you know I’m a big fan of blogging. During 2012 I’ve written 107 posts on my personal blog alone – and it’s been a slow year for me. I’ve presented on blogging several times, and I’ve encouraged more than one person to get on the blogging bandwagon. That’s why this particular blogging project is so important to me.

Two years ago now, Brenda introduced me to #reverb10 – a blogging project that provided prompts every day in December to get people reflecting and writing about their lives. Though the project had some decent prompts, it was also full of a few, should we say “touchy-feely”? prompts that would make even the most extroverted student affairs pro cringe, never mind an introverted, sarcastic blogger like myself. A year later, the #reverb folks hung up their hat, and my friend Kassie suggested doing a blog prompt project of our own – thus, Reverb Broads was born.

Reverb Broads is mostly women – and a man or two – bloggers who suggest prompts and write on whichever ones they choose. We don’t require a daily post, nor do we require any posts, if you don’t like them. We enjoy humor and sarcasm, use some prompts to reflect on our lives, others to imagine the crazy movie versions of our lives or soundtracks of our year. We’re on session three now, after running one last December and one in June.

Are you a blogger? Need some inspiration? Consider joining us – the more the merrier! Or check out some of our bloggers by visiting the Facebook page or following the #reverbbroads feed on Twitter.


Blog Prompt Monday : Tech and Personal Branding

By Jennifer Keegin

Today’s topic is “Tech and Personal Branding”. Your blog prompt for today is this:

“How are you doing in terms of your own personal branding when using tech?”

I’ve always found that I learn the most about a topic when I’m forced to present about it. The number of hours delving into a subject, organizing it into digestible pieces, and phrasing it in a way that most can understand – makes me truly connect (and learn) something new.

I was given the chance last semester to put together a Social Media Week for our University. It was an exciting chance to get to “play” during the course of my work day in an area that isn’t necessarily my main job responsibility. We had a Google+ chat, we had Career Development come and talk about LinkedIn, and I finished up the week with a talk on Branding. Here’s the Prezi.

The official title was “Creating an Online Identity”, but the message was definitely about branding and creating an online presence. I’m going to share some of the points that I valued the most while developing the presentation:

1. How are you going to separate your personal from your private self while utilizing social media? Maybe you won’t.

2. Google yourself. Anyone else with your name? Know what’s out there.

3. When you create a site, make sure you use an avatar [pic] that you can use across all social media sites for consistency. When you change it again, make sure to change them all! You are your own brand!

4. Make sure you aren’t just shouting your thoughts to the world. Follow others. Engage with others.

Putting my site together, I was very unsure as to what “my thing” should be. It took me a really long time to figure out what I like to post about and what I knew I could connect with in my articles. I like tech, I like motivational phrases, and I got into old photos of what I call “Tech Ladies”. Retro shots of women advertising (and possibly using) old timey tech. When it finally came together – it just clicked! You’ll find your “thing”. Don’t give up. Also – don’t deny who you are either. I am a mom and that’s important to me – but it manifests better via Facebook. Or Google+ private sharing. (Or “Just Family” app).

Maybe you’re not a full time blogger. Maybe you should find a blog that you could submit weekly or monthly posts to (like this one!).

Maybe you just like to read – that’s fine too! Part of your personal branding and online presence could be that of a really great listener (reader) who engages via comments on others’ blogs. That works too! People will know you as someone who will respond and converse on a topic.

Whatever you do – to have a personal brand – you have to spend some serious time planning out what it is you want out there. What do you want to be known for? This might change over time – but consistency is the key.

Good Luck! I’m sure any of the Women Talk Tech bloggers would be more than happy to take a look at your Google footprint and give you feedback as to what they see. Feedback is always helpful and might open your eyes as to what you “have out there” and what it’s saying about you.



Blog Prompt Monday : Tech and Personal Branding


by Kristen Abell

Well, we here at SA Women Talk Tech are starting a new blogging schedule, and as usual, that means there are changes afoot. We schedule out for three months at a time, which gives us a chance to evaluate what’s working, what’s not, recruit new bloggers, and give our seasoned bloggers a rest. And this time, we’re even giving one of our editors a well-deserved rest. Brenda Bethman has stepped down from editing to focus on other projects at work, but she will still be blogging with us (yay!). Lucky for us, we have recruited some amazing bloggers over the years, and one of them has stepped up to fill Brenda’s spot – Kathryn Magura will be one of the co-editors for our blog starting with this round. We are way excited to have her helping out in the editor role – woohoo!

And though we’ve also had a couple of bloggers step down for a bit this go-round, we’ve been able to recruit a fresh face – Valerie Heruska. One of the things we love doing at SA Women Talk Tech is recruiting new writers to give our blog a well-rounded perspective. Later today we’ll be posting an introduction post from Valerie so you can get to know her better. Welcome aboard!

Although there are a few other changes afoot behind the scenes, we hope that you’ll continue to enjoy and share what we’re posting. If you ever have suggestions or comments, feel free to let us know! Welcome to our new schedule at Student Affairs Women Talk Tech!