Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Final Evaluation

Overall I had a very good experience with my applied study. The fact the MSS is an ASU entity made it diverse in the teachers because I learned about school from a business standpoint as well as learning various things about college itself. I learned a great bit about how to successfully run an organization from the class sessions, I learned a lot about leadership, and got to do hands on work with the MSS running the Graduate Symposium and the Undergraduate Organizational Fair.
Some of the lessons that I learned about where about being prompt with work when you are in a certain position because there are so many different due dates and people involved that procrastination is for sure failure and pre-planning, is not even good, it is required.
Organizationally, I found the value of not selling out your organizational members for not holding up their portion of the work. Not saying that not getting work done is good, but sometimes to get the most out of a co worker, you have to encourage them first even when they fail the first time. Also, using an individual’s talents will make that person take more of an ownership of the organization and get things done. So if there is highly artistic person as the treasurer, that person might now do a great job but, even if that person were still the treasurer, but was also the organizations flyer designer, that persons likeliness to do the treasurer job as well as the flyer. Another good lesson that I want to keep with me is that a good leader comes to an agreement with their work and the leader’s vision. For example, we had a panel discussion and one of the offices mentioned that they were out in the community doing service building up one specific deprived community in phoenix. Then they changed that because Dr. Crow became president and he had a different mission and goal than the old president of ASU. I asked if she felt that his new mission was detrimental to their work in the community and then she explained that her and the members in her office read his mission statement and made a proposal to change the program to fit within his vision. So, now the program extended to communities in each more major Arizona cities in conjunction with UofA and NAU, to fit in with Dr. Crow’s vision of spreading ASU across the state and becoming larger. So they took the initiative and made a proposal for how they will operate in the future, instead of waiting for him to be able to come in and TELL them what to do.
I also learned a lot from the research that I had to do for my presentation. My topic was to minority leadership development programs at higher learning institutions. While I was looking up the programs, I finally decided that I would let my research flow more freely because there is no point in limiting the research to programs that solely are dedicated to minorities, when there is a good likelihood that it was found by research of another program anyway. So a minority program could have been copied from another leadership program and vice versa, the main point is to take the positive from the successful programs and find factors that would support or deny that from working for diverse cultures.
Even the assignment that had us to use one theory or concept and apply it to solve a problem at our site, I learned that those tools actually could be applied in a meaningful way by using the reward valence theory. It also made me wonder what different explanation I would have come up with if I used a different theory.
Not to go on too long, I think that this was a very valuable experience to my personal growth and I am glad that I got to do this internship before graduating. I didn’t sweep any floor or answer any phones, or other things that I could have done at Burger King, but gained insights that will affect me directly and immediately after graduation.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nov 16th

Problem/What can be done better?

The issue that I will be addressing will be related to the job of an Student Success Coordinators duties and how they can be done better to achieve greater success. My solution, which will be shared later, can also be applied to the MSS as a whole, but for this exercise I will focus on the Student Success Coordinator's job to Advise BAC (see Shadow entry). I want to be more specific about which portion of Advising the BAC that I want to address, by first giving a summary about what was discussed in the classroom portion on Wednesday and about the Graduate Symposium that I assisted with on Wednesday as well. This will give the background information necessary to better understand the specific problem the way that I have experienced it.

CLASSROOM: In the classroom meeting on this past Wednesday, Nov. 12th, we discussed organizations as potential retention tools for ASU. We discussed how organizations help to uphold the standards of the university for its members as far as grades and retention. Through student organizations, THOUSANDS of students are embraced on a consistent basis by a group of peers that not only do the organizations work, but assists the student with financial stress, relationship problems, family problems and study habits(all problems that can lead to dropping out). This is an important tool for the university because there is no way for faculty and staff to advise a number of students that large CONSISTENTLY. The only problem is that most MSS organizations have organizational pride and loyalty but not school pride and loyalty. So doing the universities work of retention, is seen only from the organizations stand point. So, when it comes to other activities, unless they are deemed as mandatory by a higher coalition, organizations do not allocate time or man hours to initiatives driven by ASU itself. Then there was the suggestion to dedicate 10% of each meeting to the ASU itself, instead of just the organization. Things going on at ASU for the organizations to participate in could be: summer programs, campus tours, devil's advocate, being a senator for one of the colleges, being on the homecoming court, attending President Crow's Town Hall meetings.

MSS GRADUATE SYMPOSIUM: Hours later on the same day, the Graduate Symposium takes place and I was tasked with assisting with anything that is necessary. I had nothing to do with the planning of the Graduate Symposium so I was not sure what to expect. The vendors showed up and I, myself had the chance to talk to many of them about graduate school opportunities. The event was pre-planned well and I saw that basically all of the feedback that I remembered giving for the Organizational Fair earlier in the semester were corrected very well. The only problem was the very minimal participation. I went downstairs (Memorial Union) and tried to recruit students to come to the Graduate Symposium upstairs. It was a much harder task than I thought it would be, and I ended up only getting one person to come up. I was pretty embarrassed until I got help (EXPERIENCED help at that) to come with me and go try again, and that time we got zero! It was even hard to get students claiming that they are 100% sure that they are going to grad school to come to the symposium to get information. So in reflection of that event and what can go better, there is only one issue, which many times seems to be in post-event dialogue, "how to improve student participation." Which seems to be a reoccurring theme at MSS events, even though the ORGANIZATIONS within the MSS are having successful turnouts at events from Sunday through Saturday, every week. Why is the ASU organization that is responsible for all these successful individual organizations and coalitions, having low turnouts at events? In my mind, I believe that part of the problem was already addressed in the class session this same Wednesday morning.

My co-mentor asked me to summarize what all I had learned from the programs that I helped with, as well as what I have learned from the program and have it in document form. I knew that there was so much that I could write about that I have learned, that I wish I knew before or when i was chapter president of my fraternity. I needed to know was this only me that was lacking this training, or most other president's as well, the only training that I had missed that was required was the transitional workshop. I asked what the transitional workshop entailed and found out it was solely to help on changing leadership smoothly. So this confirmed that the lessons and teachings that I received about organizational management, is a privilege that only myself and the 3 other interns are receiving.


One theory that could be useful in this situation would be the reward valence theory. This theory says that a person's decisions are based on the rewards and punishments associated with the different courses of action. In simple terms an individual thinks of two questions:
1. What can you do FOR me?
2. What can you do TO me?

I will show how the correct application of this theory can be beneficial to the MSS situation that i posed earlier, and how it can assist in advising the BAC.


The majority of the plan is to do part of the Success Coordinators job of advising BAC, plus other MSS organizations as well. The training that we got for proper goal planning, pre-programming, strategic planning, logical execution, use of resources etc., will be available for all organizations.

The classroom portion of the MSS program be made available for 2 members of each organization per week. THE FIRST SESSION, IS MANDATORY FOR THE PRESIDENT, VP AND ADVISOR. FUNDING for the next semester will be related to attendance at each meeting. So for each session you are eligible to REQUEST $100 the next semester, and there will be five total sessions. The rationale behind this is that organizations can already propose for up to $500 anyway, this will ensure that MSS is funding organizations that are trained and will be having quality planned events. From the organizations point of view, they are doing the reward valence and seeing VALUE to these sessions. The first session will be about programming. Basically the class itself will be the same presentation that was presented to me during the internship. The reasoning for only this one to be required and for those specific members to be in attendance is to get the leaders in there and to see the value of the classes that are going to be taught throughout the semester. From the reward valence, they will see the value first hand in the classes and are in a position to make participation regular for their organization.
The sessions will include only the organizational lessons that are already a part of the MSS Internship programming such as proper goal setting, planning/executing/reviewing events, recruiting. The order of the sessions will NOT be posted, only the times and locations. The rationale for that is to avoid the argument of "We know how to do that so we aren't going to this session". One of the sessions will be with the topic that I discussed at the beginning of the blog about organizations participating at ASU sponsored events (which includes the MSS Department).
The reasoning behind this whole section is to improve the quality of the programs and the efficiency of the organizations (advising BAC). The MSS Internship program will teach these things anyway, so on those specific days, if it were this semester, instead of a classroom of four, it would have a few sessions with a classroom of 30, and it takes no extra resources just a larger room.

This part, also will be rolling off of the reward valence theory. First, there will be a requirement that every organization has 20% participation at academic specific events. There will be sanctions for not meeting this requirement, which will be determined by a mathematical equation. 100/#of academic events for that semester. So if there are 5 academic events that semester, each one has a "value" of 20% of your allocated funds for the next semester. This will force organizations to communicate about the MSS calendar during meetings and be sure that they have a number of members attending. This may sound harsh, but if it was in effect on Wednesday, there would have been 50 students that know more about graduate school resources available.

One of the MSS Interns will be in charge of the spreadsheet showing if the organizations met or failed the attendance requirement, along with a copy of the sign in sheets in the MSS office.

Hopefully after the first year of implementation, the fines for not going to the academic MSS events could end, since such a large number of students will have attended and be able to attest to the value of the events to incoming members.

AND THAT'S IT, my plan to improve BAC Advising and improve attendance at MSS events. I hope that I explained everything well.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The Interview

For my interview, it was hard to ask about the day that I shadowed my mentor. There was not much to ask about the day that I shadowed him because most of it was taking care of the speaker, Amon Rashidi, whom he already knew. So, that day, he was not in the office after 12pm, like he normally would be.

Q: What is your mission as a Student Success Coordinator?
A: To aid in the retention and graduation of students of color at Arizona State University

Q: You said that you and Amon Rashidi, the speaker for AAMASU’s presentation last week, had a common mentor. Can you go into detail about his teachings and how that led both of you to be on similar paths of life, which eventually crossed?
A: Every year for the past 30 years my mentor takes a group of kids on a tour of Egypt. The group ranges from 20 students to 100 students and he takes them on an educational tour in the Nile Valley and teaches about the origins of the civilizations there. He is one the few scholars that are dedicated to teaching about the origins of the Nile Valley and helping to disprove the myth that outsiders came to Africa and built the pyramids and built the great civilizations in Africa, mainly Egypt. He also shares about the legacies that have been taken from Africa and utilized by the world. Basically the tour is to educate and to show the young men and women about their heritage and legacy that they possess but are not taught about.

Q: In class earlier in the semester you said that you had a military mentor can you tell about his philosophy and teachings?
A: He runs a private school called the New World Learning Center and I used to teach there. He used the states normal teaching curriculum and adapted it to the teachers skill set. For the students, they had school plus a summer and winter camp that included military skills such as using a map, compass and outdoor survival tactics.

Q: With your leadership style of Jeet Kune Do, what would you do to motivate a person that seemingly has no ambition at all, that normally would be seen as a lost case?
A: There is no formula that you can follow to get someone to do something. In general, if they don’t want to do something, then they won’t. But the strategy is to find a way to get the person to identify with the organization or an issue, and see themselves as a positive impact on the organization or issue. Most people have a passion about something and you have to find a way to incorporate that to get the person positively involved.

Q: What is your role for getting the speakers and presenters for BAC organizations?
A: I meet a lot of people in the industry from my travels because I travel constantly to conferences and have been in leadership and involved nationally in so many organizations. Because of that I am usually the contact person and I introduce them to whichever organization is in need of their field of expertise.

Q What is the strategy for being responsible for advising so many different organizations?
A: What I do is I get the students to brainstorm ideas of what program or project they want to do. I make sure they are informed on all the policies and procedures, risk factors and ASU entities that they need to be aware of to undertake the project successfully and in accordance with all the rules that must be followed. I also make sure that their plan is realistic monetarily for the budget that they have. For student advising, I am basically an institutional liaison. Anything that you want from ASU, you can come to me and I will be able to get in contact with the right person and get the problem resolved faster than you would be able to yourself. So if you needed a tutor, you could come to my office and I will get you a tutor. The same goes for financial problems or anything else that you want to talk to the university about, you can come to my office and we can get you situated.

Friday, October 31, 2008


On Thursday I shadowed my mentor Lasana Hotep from 11:30am until 9:00pm. Yesterday was a long day for him since one of the key MSS organizations was having a speaker come to give a presentation on Manhood and Masculinity. The speakers name is Amon Rashidi. Lasana let me come in at 11:30 because the work that he does at the start of the day, is not very glamorous or anything like that. Also, some is supposed to be in confidence because his job position of Student Success Coordinator also has like a mentoring aspect related to basically any problem that a student has. His first line of work in the day is to check his phone and email and prioritize what messages he received are important, he said that he has around 1800 emails in his inbox. Next he checks and sees what all the upcoming programs are that are being hosted that week by the cornerstone organizations in MSS. Then he has a Student Success Coordinator Check list with other responsibilities that he has also. The list looks like this:

FACILITATE- Sankofa, MSS Internship, Canon Leadership, Vision for Black Men, BAC Convocation


COMMITTEES- North Neighborhood (residence halls), Advantage Success Program


(For info on any of these programs you can check the MSS WEBSITE)

His current projects as of yesterday, besides hosting the speaker that arrived that day, are Black History Month and he is trying to make a Hip Hop Chess Federation.

What I learned from just by looking at what all he is in charge of is that first, it takes an in depth planner to be in a position like that. He has so many different programs that he is in charge of that, getting behind would make it physically impossible to be successful. What happened after I was in his office for a few minutes we talked for a few minutes and he asked about some of my situations that I have been going through and what the results were. I am sure that it was an interesting story to hear because it has been a crazy journey to end up being here this November, compared to where I was last November. This was not only personal, but it would also help him in the future if he had another student go through anything similar to what I have been through, he will be able to assist that person, just by listening to what my story was. Other students came into the office while he was still telling me what all he does on a normal day. Some students came in to report about the meeting regarding the BAC Float in homecoming and he told them to find out the details with the vehicle that they are going to get, the insurance, if they are getting candy it has to be approved, and to rent a vehicle they will have to make the company they are renting from become an approved vendor for ASU. He also took the opportunity to give us some advice as members of Greek organizations because everyone in the room was in a Historically Black Greek Letter Organization. Then he planned a follow up meeting for next week. Around noon, we went to pick up the speaker for an event being hosted by African American Men of ASU (AAMASU), which is one of the core organizations of the MSS. After picking him up we went to lunch. At lunch it was Lasana, Nick, the AAMASU coordinator, Amon, the Speaker and AJ, the director of MSS. The discussion at the table was interesting and ranged from politics, to making black institutions for youth, youth intervention programs and the problems and the results and progress made by the programs. Before we were done AJ, the director of MSS, had to leave a little early to meet with the Dean of Students. After eating lunch, we went to the speaker’s hotel and checked him in; Nick gave him the schedule for the event and some other literature for him to keep about the AAMASU organization. Later he took time to go home and get ready and I went my separate way until the event, he brought the speaker in the room 30 minutes early and the event started promptly at 7pm.

What I learned from shadowing Lasana is that I have a lot of work to be able to handle the level of responsibility that he handles. He is responsible for so many different organizations at the same time. To go more in depth, he is the teaches the internship class on Wednesdays as well as advise us on our projects and programs. He facilitated the meeting for Visions of Black Men on Monday, two hours from 6pm to 8pm. He is on top of the BAC float and events. He always has time to talk to me or find a way to help me out when I have a situation, and that’s just me. There are plenty of other students as well that seek his advice and assistance, all while he is still responsible for the 1800 emails and Student Success Coordinator Checklist. The way that he is responsible for so much is similar to the military, because I will continue to be responsible for more than more. First we are in charge of a platoon, then a company, battalion and some variations in between. Then, similarly I will be working to accomplish the mission that my commander gives to me, helping and assisting my soldiers with anything that may be hindering them from being able to do or focus on our mission. Being in charge of that much at first sight seems like it would be overwhelming especially keeping in mind that other things come up that you are still responsible for concurrently with your spelled out duties. Also, taking care of the presenter is similar to what we will have to do when a commanding officer or other VIP will come from another unit to visit for a ceremony or whatever the occasion may be. When Lasana picked up Amon, there was no question about, where we were going to eat, and also we did not go to McDonald’s. He also did a lot of mentoring and advising work with students yesterday, those are things that I will have to do for my soldier’s when they start messing up and I will have to help them with projects that they are working on or help them figure out how to fix their life so that they can work better for me. His skills at relationship building assist a great deal with being able to do the mentoring and advising honestly and effectively, without becoming the “A**hole”, so that is definitely a skill set that I observed yesterday that I will try to improve myself.

Sample Work Resume/Cover Letter

click here to see my resume/cover letter

Thinking about my Future

My future is fairly set in stone already barring some disaster. I am already committed to being an officer in the U.S. Army; my commitment is for 6 years. So, working with Student Affairs is fairly out of the question. I do believe that I would pursue if right now I was in a situation where, I did not have employment already lined up for myself after graduation. Working with MSS is not really directly related to being in the army on the surface level, but being interdisciplinary in nature, it is all related, using the same leadership techniques to accomplish different goals in different situations. First, the military is part of the reason why student affairs was created at universities. This became because the military began to use the GI Bill as a recruiting tool to get civilians to join the army. Obviously this was during war time, but after the war was over and troops came home, they began to change the dynamics of colleges and universities. College became less of an exclusive institution and now people of any race, class and gender could attend college with the GI Bill, so the classrooms became much more diverse immediately and unexpectedly. Also, to add to that, the war veterans came to college not only as different classes of citizens, but with issues related to have experienced war. Student Affairs departments were created to address the issues that were born out of the GI Bill and the Higher Education Act, that made college more accessible to citizens that have not had the resources to attend colleges. I learned about this the first day of our classroom development, Student Affairs was created to assist with issues that arose out of having military students and students that needed financial assistance to get into college.
Another part of our professional development was an in depth teaching about how to successfully run an organization, and some of the common mistakes that most programs commit. I was previously the President of my chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. and many of the lessons we learned I wish I had known previously. Also, many of the teachings were things that I had already learned in Army ROTC, but I always thought of them as, how the army works, not even thinking about transitioning some of it to other organizations. We learned goal setting, fund raising, distribution of literature, recruitment, resource management, time management, energy, having monthly, weekly and daily goals, and how to address members that fail to carry their load. Some of the things that I will be sure to take with me was goal setting, it is more important that I thought. If you set a goal for everything that you do, you will be more successful. If you say you want ten members, then at your recruitment events, you should also have a goal there to reach MORE than ten people, so that after attrition, you will still have ten. Then you have to plan, how are you going to get all those people to your recruitment event, which is more effective than just saying, we want ten people, hope we are going to get it somehow. Goal setting in the military is no different, but knowing how to set goals correctly from day one will be an advantage to have.
In the classroom, we also learned about various leadership styles. Outside of the classroom topics that we have discussed there is much application with actually assisting in running and evaluating programs that the MSS and its member organizations host, which are many in number. I am working with three programs right now, the biggest is being a part of the planning for ASU’s Martin Luther King Jr. rally next semester. The experience with running these organizations is a great insight to problems and situations to expect when working with a large group of peers. It is also great preparation for anything that is based on management, which is what being an Army officer is about. It would be too simple to say what I am doing is unrelated, but taking an analytical look at what I am doing right now, it is the same thing that I will be doing as an army officer, minus the weapons. Making this experience relevant to what I will face in the military is what will make the internship count. Trying to only do what they ask without looking deeper, will not benefit my career.

Theories Used in the MSS Office

One major theory that is used in Student Affairs is Critical Theory. My internship site, Multicultural Student Services (MSS) is part of the student affairs department. Critical theory provides an analytical and ethical foundation needed to uncover the structure of underlying social practices and to reveal the possible distortion of social life in society. The goal of critical theory is to bring about change and achieve equality for an oppressed group of people. Those same factors and goals are the basis for why Student Affairs has was created at most universities and colleges, to increase and facilitate diversity in higher education.

Uncertainty reduction theory is also used a lot in the MSS because most of the work is socially based. Uncertainty reduction theory explores how interpersonal uncertainty affects the communication between those two people. So when you first meet a stranger, you will have very little conversation and as you find similarities with that person, the communication will increase. It also says that with a high level of uncertainty there is a low amount of intimacy, as the level of uncertainty decreases, the level of intimacy increases.

Race is a theory that is used a lot in the MSS because in general it is related to culture. Race is a man made construct that is used to categories differences in humanity. Race is defined by skin tone, presence/absence of body hair, width of the nose, thickness/thinness of lips and coarseness of hair. Although the categories are firmly defined, very few people meet all the standards to fit into one race because of intermingling and the fact that race is not biologically defined. So if the majority of your features appear to be negroe features, you are classified accordingly and subject to the social implications and presumptions that other members of the race are exposed to.

Finally we have the contingency theory. It says that leaders and leadership styles are only effective in certain situations. It says that there is no one right leadership style, it is dependent upon the situation present. For example we would readily agree that a dictatorship style of leader is negative, but one of the advantages to it is that it is fast, decisive and absolute. So in a situation where there is no time to educate others on a situation and getting everyone’s input, it would be more effective to make the decision and meet the important deadline, or whatever the situation may have been.