Leadership Breakfast Meeting Considers Stress

Salem, Mass., Feb. 14, 2017 — The smell of fresh coffee filled the air, a table positioned in the back of the room included muffins and fresh fruit among other breakfast items for students, as the first session of Salem States Spring Leadership Breakfast Series was held in the Ellison Campus Center Underground room on Tuesday morning.

Rebecca Jimenez engaging with students at the first of three Spring Leadership Breakfast Series meetings hosted by the Student Involvement and Activities Department at Salem State University on Feb. 14, 2017, in Salem, Mass. Photo by: Natalie Durazo

Hosted by the Student Involvement and Activities Department, the three-part series covers topics the department feels are relevant to what students deal with throughout the school year and span over the months of February, March and April. February covers stress and work-life balance, March will cover professionalism as students will be looking for jobs or internships, and April will be targeted on financial aspects.

Rebecca Jimenez, Director of Student Involvement and Activities led this first discussion.

Jimenez started the discussion by asking each of the 12 students in attendance and her two co-workers Melissa Arroyo and Alliane Brennan to say what they thought work-life and balance meant to them. As each student spoke, the one trend that came up the most was balancing school work, having a job and keeping a social life.

Ava, a sophomore at SSU, is a resident advisor and works another job and is taking seven courses. When asked by Jimenez how she handles all of that her response received a chuckle from the crowd.

“I need help,” she said.

“I told myself after freshman year I wanted to challenge myself because I know I could work harder, but I think I over did it,” she explained.

One of the main focus points Jimenez touched upon in the discussion is that each individual needs to find their own balance, because no one person is the same. Each person has to have a “consciousness of oneself,” Jimenez said. By doing this, one will understand your strengths and weaknesses and become more efficient. Jimenez used an example of a gymnast doing a handstand to explain that you will have to readjust sometimes to keep moving.

“When a gymnast does a handstand they don’t stay still the whole time, they will eventually move and have to adjust because you can’t always be perfect,” she said.

Components like stress, trying to keep a personal life, working and doing things you don’t necessarily want to do all intersect with each other and it’s important to find ways to prioritize. Arroyo used an example explaining she has a large calendar next to her desk at home and at work that plans out her entire month.

“People laugh at me for having such a big calendar but this is how I compartmentalize everything I have going on in my life,” she said. “I always know what I have to do and when I can make plans outside of work.”

One of the students in attendance, Hannah O’Leary, is a resident advisor and finds these events to be helpful, noting that she appreciates the fact the SSU offers events like this.

“I like these events because there are always ways to better yourself, and there isn’t one model you have to follow you just have to know who you are and go from there,” she said.

This was the first time this event has been open to the entire campus, so the department hasn’t had any feedback to work with, but that doesn’t bother Arroyo who has an optimistic look ahead for these events.

“A lot of our student leaders get mandatory training so these aren’t necessarily for them, but now that these events are open to the campus we look forward to getting more students to come participate and we can get some feedback and build on it,” she said.

Rebecca Jimenez, Director of Student Involvement and Activities at Salem State University, leading the discussion at the first meeting of the Spring Leadership Series on Feb. 14, 2017 in Salem, Mass. Photo by: Natalie Durazo
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