Higher Education Leadership: Lessons learned in SOLES

A blog post from SOLES Ambassador and MA in Higher Education Leadership, Corey Fereday:
I am currently completing my second and final year in the MA Higher Education Leadership program in SOLES at USD. My experience up to date has been rewarding as I learn to apply successfully and understand more fully the role leadership and organizational development theories have in higher education.
I believe the leadership focus of the MA program that will allow me to work more dynamically and broadly at a higher education institution is very practical as I attempt to begin my career in higher education administration and work for positive change in a field that has been traditionally weary of deep structural shifts. Below, I have listed some lessons as I reflect on my experiences over the past year in SOLES in terms of successes and challenges:

  • I have been pushed to tap into various sources of interpreting experiences so that I can better balance objective and subjective understanding.
  • I have been challenged to identify underlying biases, assumptions and values thereby promoting greater self-actualization and intuitive understanding.
  • I have been offered opportunities to identify clear connections between theories and my work as a graduate assistant.
  • I have been given opportunities to partner with individuals who come from very different intellectual, spiritual and professional backgrounds.
  • I have been offered amazing support, advising and mentorship services by supervisors, colleagues and professors.
  • I have been called frequently to infuse and sustain meaning and purpose in my work.
  • I have been given tools to view organizational development, change and leadership in radically new ways.
  • I have been given ample opportunities to develop more mindful academic and professional skills.
  • I have gained a greater perspective on my interconnected roles in groups, organizations and society from a systems perspective.

These lessons are continuously emerging. I am excited to complete my degree and know that these lessons complement one another in a way where theory and practice are not mutually exclusive.
Higher education institutions are known for reacting slowly to external forces. Therefore, I believe that these lessons learned from my studies will help me more positively, uniquely and effectively engage with change efforts as I seek to work with students. I am particularly interested in helping students clarify their personal values and align them with academic and vocational pathways. My professional pathway may be admissions, residential life, student conduct or academic advising. Regardless, I hope to continue my education rooted in my initial SOLES experiences so that I am always thinking outside the box, considering alternative perspectives, and challenging myself to be better.

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