Reflecting on First Impressions

A blog post from SOLES Ambassador and MA in Leadership Studies Kaitlin Bourne:

The thought of returning to graduate school ten years after completing my undergraduate work seemed like a daunting experience. I knew that being in back in school would be drastically different than I remembered as an undergrad, but was uncertain in which ways. I was nervous and curious at the same time. Before classes started, I journeyed to the School of Leadership and Educational Sciences (SOLES) to check out the vibe. As I walked into the immaculate building, I felt a strong sense of prestige, matched with smooth sense of calm. The views of the San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean also provided a sense of adventure and creativity. I felt ready to explore what my future at SOLES would entail.

After heading up the marble staircase, I found myself wandering around the Leadership Department. I noticed a lot of energy buzzing around these offices. I happened to walk past an office of a professor I recognized from my interview. We caught eyes and I felt compelled to reintroduce myself to her. I wanted to share my excitement and gratitude for being accepted into the program. Surprisingly, as I went to shake her hand, she stood up to greet me with open arms. Yes, she welcomed me into the program with a big hug! Little did I know, this professor became one of my first professors in the program, teaching Leadership Practice and Theory, Dr. Terri Monroe. She spent time with me discussing the Leadership program, the coursework, and answering my questions. I couldn’t have felt more welcome. After leaving her office, I experienced a huge sense of relief. I felt supported, even by people who hardly knew me. I had just experienced the graciousness and generosity of the faculty at SOLES.


Throughout my first year in the program, I continued to witness this same genuine support from the entire faculty at SOLES. My professors have all been willing to meet with me when I have questions and/or simply need to discuss my study ambitions. I have experienced them fully invested in my growth as an individual and as a new student, it helped me feel more comfortable and confident in my pursuit of obtaining a Masters degree from the University of San Diego. Not only have my professors nurtured my growth, but they have also pushed me to grow in new and different ways. They have helped me recognize my strengths, as well as, my areas of improvement. Through creative reflection and engaging dialog, I have been able to discover more about myself and my reasons for studying leadership. I attribute much this growth to the relationships I have developed along the way, especially with my professors. Even after the completion of my coursework, I have remained in contact with them and continue to witness the same amount of support, encouragement, and availability. Additionally, I experienced my first encounter with the Department Chair, Dr. Afsaneh Nahavandi, the same way. Just last week, while waiting to schedule a meeting with her, she passed me in the hall. Instead of scheduling the appointment, she immediately invited me into her office to discuss my question. She even offered me a cup of tea! It is these sincere gestures that make SOLES a truly special place.

One of USD’s core values is compassionate service and this is what I experience from the faculty at SOLES. They are willing to go the extra mile to know who you are and why you are in the program. It is has been extremely helpful for me to make these connections and I invite you to do the same. Enjoy Fall 2014!

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