Monday, December 19, 2016

Searching for a Long-Term Academic Relationship (LTAR)

Relationships change, friendships evolve, and values are reaffirmed. The past sentence defines my life for the past six years. When I began my academic career, I had a core group  of academic friends at the institution. However, when lives changed and mindsets evolved, our academic lives drifted apart.

Thinking Back to the Sorority Days

I have to remember that this was a similar experience that I encountered with some of my sorority sisters after college. We had a lot in common when we saw each other each day and were completing college together, but when we began our career paths we discovered how different we truly were.

Focusing on Today

So, the differences. Yes, they are definitely evident now. I am no longer on the tenure track, I am almost an associate professor and my academic value systems changed from a faculty research focus to a student research focus. Everything that I do now focuses on helping our students navigate college while integrating high impact educational practices from their first-year to their senior year. 

Thinking Beyond Your Department

Just because you share an academic discipline and work on project together does not guarantee a long-term academic relationship (LTAR). A LTAR is strengthened when we participate in those high-impact relationship building activities like study abroad, text messages sent to encourage one another, a spontaneous coffee/tea invitation for a 30 minute walk around campus, and a telephone call just to let the other academic know that you are thinking of them.

Encourage Others by Thinking Positively

My past academic relationships have been VERY transactional and research and project-based. Now, I can say that these relationships are based on common experiences (away from the university) and shared (encouraging) conversations. We also encourage one another by discouraging any negative conversations about other people. These conversations can taint your views of others and the time that you spend gossiping can be allocated to conversations about family or classroom innovation ideas.

I am much happier since I realized that relationships in my 30s need to be long-lasting and based on common experiences and common mindsets, not purely transactional. Sometimes you just have to let friendships wither away, this can make you open to new (and better friendships).

Have a great day and keep thinking positively! Thanks for visiting the Millennial Professor Blog!


Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards
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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Did I Hold It Together During the Graduation Ceremony? You Decide!

Last night was one of the best experiences that I've had in academia. I've worked at the same university for the past ten years and by far, this has been my proudest moment so far.

The Tarleton State University Communication Studies Department celebrated its first two communication studies graduates at the master's level. Mr. Winston Dawson and Ms. Becca Long have always been trend setters for their peers, but last night they proved that they mastered their academic discipline. 

When Becca asked me to "hood" in the December graduation ceremony a few weeks ago, I was so excited to add this important event to my calendar! I told her that I would not miss it for the world!

I've known Becca for the past six (almost seven) years! She was one of the first undergraduate students involved with the Texas Social Media Research Institute (@TSMRI) and we have been proud of her since that point. We also keep up with all of our graduates and their career progression!

I met Winston six years ago and he is the funniest person that I know. He always has a smile on his face and he impacts all individuals around him! He actually attended my secret baby shower planned by the first class of @TSMRI interns. I've always admired him for attending and supporting my journey as a parent. 

Traivohn, Torri, and Lizzie
We also had three undergraduate students accomplish the first part of their academic journey as well. These students have been some of the most creative and most motivational students I've ever encountered. I immediately think of these students when I think about the student learning outcomes from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). These students served as trendsetters for their peers and I was excited to see them cross the stage!

I also told them that they had to keep in contact with me through our Friday check-in meetings on Twitter group messages. I have a recurring meeting in my schedule to remind me to initiate the communication if I do not hear from them.

This experience marks the end of their bachelor's level or master's level graduate journey, but it does not represent the end of their academic journey! I look forward to hearing about their next accomplishments!


J. Edwards

Have a great week! Thanks for visiting the Millennial Professor Blog!

Dr. Jennifer T. Edwards

Follow Me on Twitter/Instagram - @drjtedwards
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