Many of you had the opportunity to meet Logan Elliott, the new Graduate Assistant for New Student & Family Programs, this summer during SOAR 2019. For those of you that didn’t, take a moment to get to know him.
Tell us about yourself. I am originally from White Hall, Illinois. I recently graduated from Blackburn College (Carlinville, Illinois) with a double major in Political Science and Organizational Leadership. I am currently pursuing a Masters degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education. I belong to a large family, so I am one of five children, one of which is my twin brother Lucas (lifetime best friend).
You are getting a Masters in Student Affairs in Higher Education. Can you tell us about that and why you chose Student Affairs? What are your career plans? My interest in serving students began during my freshman year. I started working in our campus dining hall – though it was not the most desirable place to work, I knew that if it helped me fund my education, I needed to have a positive attitude. Although I quickly grew to love my positions and the opportunity to work with others that it provided, I was quickly recognized by our Director of Student Activities. I was approached with a job in her division of the Student Life Office. I jumped at the offer and began working for the Campus Activities Board. I started receiving great feedback and positive reviews from all of my supervisors within the Department of Student Life. Due to that feedback and encouragement, my motivation grew and eventually had consumed every aspect of my college experience. I became much more motivated in all facets of my work ethic. I was also motivated to get involved and make the most out of my four years at Blackburn College. It was then that I realized I have a true passion for serving others, and ensuring that all consumers, students, and people I interact with in my work deserve to have a pleasant experience. I started getting more involved and realized the exact people I love helping the most are college students.
What are you hoping to gain from your graduate assistant position at Missouri State (besides the education)? I think what I am looking to gain most is being more comfortable in difficult situations. With a position like new student orientation, nothing is ever going to go as planned, and often will present difficult situations with no clear right answer. What I am looking to gain throughout graduate school (specifically my Graduate Assistantship) is getting more comfortable with the uncomfortable (because that is what Student Affairs is).
You’ve been on campus for about a two months now. What do you like most and why? This one is easy… THE PEOPLE. The people that I have met at Missouri State University thus far have been some of the most welcoming and open-minded people. Due to meeting them and building relationships with them, I feel much more confident about my transition into MSU in the fall.
What is your best advice for students starting college in the fall? TRY EVERYTHING! Put yourself out there! You are going to be given so many amazing opportunities, and it is so important that you consider taking some of those opportunities. This is going to be integral to your college experience. You are going to be challenged to grow in ways that you never expected, so my advice would be to get out of your comfort zone, get involved, and don’t be afraid to try everything, even if you don’t think you are going to like it.
What’s your best advice for family members of our students? I would echo the answer from question 5! Encourage your students to try new things, and to do things that might be out of there or even your comfort zone. Your students are going to be challenged in their beliefs, values, and interests, and as hard as it is as you are the people who have instilled those values beliefs and interests, you have to understand they are now adults, and the freedom and support to explore new things is going to help them be wildly successful in their college experience.
You come from what is called, I believe, a working school. Can you explain that concept and share how attending a working school changed your outlook on work, on leadership? Work Colleges are an exceptional group of four-year, degree-granting, liberal arts institutions that engage students in the purposeful integration of work, learning, and service. Unique to work colleges is the requirement that all resident students participate in a comprehensive-work-learning service program for all four years of enrollment. Therefore, all resident students have jobs. Most students work on-campus jobs, while some students hold off-campus positions. Either way, students are given responsibility, counted upon, gain valuable work experience, while reducing the cost of education. The work college model is student-centered and designed to enhance and enrich the educational experience. Each work college is unique, and has its own distinct mission and focus and offers a different set and variety of academic majors. Some colleges offer a broad range of choices while others have a very specific focus. Blackburn College happens to be the only one of the Work Colleges in the country that is 100% student-run and student-managed. During my time at Blackburn College, I had the pleasure of serving students in multiple different capacities: I have served as an Orientation Leader, Resident Assistant, and First-Year Transition Leader. These have all further fueled my passion for serving others in the community around me. Moreover, the position that has really helped to develop my skill-building would be my role as the General Manager of the entire Blackburn College Work Program. Each year, two students are selected to oversee and manage the day-to-day operations of the 500-student work program. My role focused specifically on discipline and conduct. I find this experience has propelled me forward in regards to having difficult conversations and being able to do them in an equitable manner. It is because of this amazing experience and others at Blackburn College and in my jobs that were held in my hometown community, that I feel confident in my ability to serve students and lead in whatever capacity that might ever be asked of me. Overall my outlook on work as well as leadership WILL FOREVER be changed based on attending such a wonderful college which forced me to learn new outlooks, perspectives and work ethics daily.
If someone asked you what are the three top traits of a leader, from your perspective, what would you say? and Why? One of the most important things I think leaders must have/do is when they see a need, they strive to meet that need. It is something I tell myself daily as I go to work “see a need, meet a need” The second trait I would say is just being open-minded and adaptable. Nothing is ever going to go the way you planned and the ability to adjust and navigate the situations regardless of the cards you are dealt with is a great trait for a leader to have. Lastly, I think that you MUST be empathetic to those who you are leading. You cannot be a leader if you do not have followers, and you need to be trusted and care about those who you are seeking to lead. Showing empathy to those you work with can change the entire dynamics of how teams work together.
You played a large role in the 2019 SOAR sessions. What has been your biggest takeaway from being a part of the SOAR process? I think my biggest takeaway is that you never know what to expect from a day at work, so you just have to stay focused on why you are doing the job at hand, and try to be a positive light for those around you. Personally, I have to remind myself that the reason why I do a job that can sometimes be crazy, is because I want to change students lives for the positive. SO no matter what your day looks like ALWAYS stay focused on why you are doing it.