Monthly Archives: February 2012

@SAFirstYears Post: Becoming Interesting

My third @SAFirstYears blog post – published date of 2/8/2012:

We all have fears.  Perhaps yours is ‘failure’ or disappointing someone.  Maybe it is making a really big mistake or having hideous bulletin boards around your halls. Possibly it is not challenging your students as much as you are supporting them, or vice versa.

While I also share these fears, being boring frightens me.  I know I am not good with telling impromptu stories or pulling interesting facts out at a moment’s whim.  When I talk with someone, I need to share from a personal and genuine level based on my experiences.

As I entered into my second year of graduate school, I realized I had been involved with so many student affairs jobs/roles/positions/initiatives for my entire college and graduate school careers, I did not have much beyond those experiences and knowledge to share about myself.  Sure, I had other interests, but I had not developed them or put effort into discovering new information or talents which inspired me.  My student affairs specific knowledge always makes for great conversations with family and friends who don’t quite understand why I live in a residence hall after seven years.  (Sarcasm.)  These involvements kept me motivated throughout my undergraduate years.  I was constantly busy, and even having a unique major and minors (Merchandising and Business/Math) provided an opportunity to connect with new people. Once I started graduate school, it became more focused.  I decided I needed to branch out and spend time developing my interests.

As my second year of graduate school thickened with ‘thesising’ and job searching, I knew my ability to further my interests outside of my chosen career and class work was diminishing, simply based on lack of time.  But I still resolved to become more interesting.  I was also concerned with what I planned to do with my time upon graduation.  What the heck was I going to do when I did not have to go to class, write multiple multiple-page papers, do research, and read thirty books a semester?   The fear wasn’t only about being boring, but more about being bored.

So I made a list on an excel document.  It’s titled Hobbiesand is still saved on my desktop.

While I may not have grown in every area I outlined over a year ago, I am happy to say awareness of what my first year would look like without academic commitments made a difference as I job searched and arrived to Colorado.  I am now involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters; I have started learning how to sew; I attend classes weekly at a local Pilates studio; I am training for a half marathon; I teach Step classes at the Student Recreation Center, and most recently, I got certified to be a personal fitness trainer.  Not only have I explored personal interests, I have also expanded mywork interests in the Student Affairs realm by being on an AIMHO (Association of Inter-Mountain Housing Officers) committee, connecting to other SA pros via twitter, and am writing for this blog.

Someone once told me, “It is always good to have a few stories in your back pocket for cocktail parties.”  (As my cocktailattire doesn’t have back pockets, I’ll keep my stories in my dress pocket.  Dresses with built in pockets are officially the most epic dresses.)  And whether or not you attend cocktail parties, (casually carrying both your personal and duty phones), I think this actually pertains to life: as human beings, we are multi-faceted individuals who have the capacity for a variety of interests, passions, and skills.  Sharing who we are and what we do is imperative to connecting with other people.

In an attempt to ensure I became more interesting, my growing interests have definitely helped me connect with both students and professionals beyond the day-to-day work, which has actually made me a better SA professional.  And I, by no means, am bored.

Katie Schmalzel


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@SAFirstYears Post: Running a Half Marathon

My second @SAFirstYears blog post – published date of 2/1/2012:

Sometimes our job is like running a marathon.
Not every mile is awesome, but in the end it’s always amazing.

I will be running my third half marathon in less than a month.   For the past two years I have traveled with a few friends from graduate school down to Orlando, Florida and participated in the Disney Princess Half Marathon.  I know.  Cool, right?  You can dress up like a Disney character (Princess) and wear a tiara.   Anyways, running a half marathon takes a bit of stamina.  By all means, it does not require near the training and mental energy as a full marathon.  But 13.1 miles isn’t a measly hop, skip, and a jump, either.

Just for the record, everyone should know running has not come naturally to me.  My athletic ability was limited to volleyball throughout high school, and running was not required by my coach.  When I got to college and received the coveted “Congratulations, you’re an RA!” letter my fresh(wo)man year at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, I was told the building I would be working in had the most intense staff on campus: we did PT with the Army ROTC.  This required signing up for a class MWF from 6:00 – 7:30 am.  Of course, I did not have to do this, but wanted to hang out with my staffies, so I did.  The first half of the workout was push-ups and sit-ups, and the second half was running.  Three miles every morning.  Excuse me, what?  I don’t think I had ever run three miles at once, at least not at 7,000 feet.

I “ran” with the Army crew for the first time during the summer prior to starting my RA career.  We jogged/shuffled two miles and I have never sucked so much wind in my life.  It was tough, but I managed to make it through the semester without missing a single class.  Since then, I have been a dedicated runner, running about three to four miles a few times a week.

When my friend asked me to run the half marathon with her for the first time in 2010, I doubted my endurance, strength, and abilities.  Eventually, she convinced me to sign up.  We vowed to start training a few months in advance to be adequately prepared.  Well, graduate student life got the best of us, and we were only able to complete one eight-mile run about three weeks prior to the race.  As this was the extent of our training, my self-doubt increased.  But it also put a fire in my soul: I had to prove to myself I could reach the finish line.  By some miracle, we ended up running the entire 13.1 miles.  Granted not every mile was easy, but when the five of us crossed that finish line, holding hands, an enormous amount of exhilarated energy flew throughout my body!

After crossing the finish line after my first half marathon in 2010:


As this third half marathon is quickly approaching, I know moments of the run are going to be difficult, and others will be motivating.

After crossing the finish line after my first half marathon in 2011:


Some days we go to bed on a high from having many wonderful conversations with our students, colleagues, or mentors.  And some days are taxing and trying.  But we end every year seeing our students grow and learn, and the warm-fuzzies settle into our hearts.

Not every mile is awesome, but in the end it’s always amazing.

Follow my training journey: #DisneyPrincessHalfMarathon

Pictures from the third half marathon coming soon!

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Happiness Project – January Reflections & February Musings

My January goal was Energy.  Upon refinement, I understood energy to be all encompassing.  Some mini goals were:

to maintain a regular and rigorious workout schedule.
This was pretty solid.  I continue to go to sessions at my local Pilates studio, teach Step classes at the campus rec center, and have amped up my running to prepare for the half marathon coming up!  I could probably amp the training up more, but I have about 3.5 weeks left, so it will get there!

to eat more healthy.
Meh.  Main meals, yes.  But I have gone through an exorbitant amount of chocolate chips just from snacking. Really, a ridiculous amount.  Some might even call it impressive. 

to sleep more and go to bed earlier.
About halfsies.  Not including tonight… 

to keep energy up while talking with students/staff.
I have worked really hard to be intentional with my staff and students – go to more events/programs, and focus more on 1:1s.  I think it has paid off.  Today especially, I had 3 solid 1:1s.  Good chats with my HDs, and then went to a IM Floor Hockey game and cheered on the ResLife team.  And two #cookiemonday’s already this semester! 🙂 It’s been a lot of fun.  

I feel like I have more energy.  I also know I have taken on more this semester, mostly outside of work: in addition to hanging out with my BBBS little sister and teaching Step classes, I have added Golden Young Professionals and writing for the @SAFirstYears blog.

So it’s now February.  
My new focus: “Stay in Touch”: Reach out to more people more often.  I am horrible with staying in contact with people.  This includes random texts, phone calls, etc.  I’m going to do my best to call the dozens of people I have been meaning to send some love their way.  Heck, I even keep a list on my iPhone, under notes: “people to call” – Legit.  Obvs that I need to actually act on it.  Not only does this mean contact people I may not live near anymore, but also work to develop stronger relationships with the friends I have nearby, and get to know the people I work with on a deeper level.  Such great thoughts for February!  Woo!

And just because it’s February, doesn’t mean January goes away.  The focus of energy will stay with me!  Alright, it is definitely bed time so I can keep up my energy to hang out with my Little Sister tomorrow night!  

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