Posted November 1, 2016 by Benjamin Williams 

ACUI and I: A Professional Love Story

Group Facilitators Ben Williams and Jami Matthews at I-LEAD® 2015Sitting in the Ferguson Center at the University of Alabama for the Region 6 conference in October 2010, I began what would be an amazing and unexpected love with ACUI and the College Union. I actually only attended this conference because I was unavailable to go to another, but it gave me an opportunity to network with other students, understand what a “career in student affairs” was, and to meet individuals who would help me become the professional I am today.

Fast forward, many of the most influential experiences of my career to date have come through ACUI: connections with colleagues across the country, applications and realizations learned through volunteer experiences that I use when interviewing, and most importantly a family.

When the Center for Student Involvement launched at the University of Colorado–Boulder and I was asked to benchmark different aspects of our work, I had a community to rely on, whether it be colleagues I met at the Student Organization Institute or from a regional or annual conference. ACUI members and the Central Office were willing to give advice and lend a hand to help.

ACUI provides enriching volunteer opportunities where you can grow, develop, and make a lasting impact. As an undergraduate student at Georgia State University, I applied to be a student regional director in Region 6. Julie Elion gave me a shot. I joined the Region VI Leadership Team in the same role when I relocated to Miami University of Ohio for graduate school. Planning programs, supporting the regional conference, and having conversations from a governing perspective on how to serve the members of the region enhanced my academic and professional understandings of the work I do.

The Education and Research Fund has been one of the most meaningful experiences of my career to this point, as a dear friend and mentor Patrick Connelly gave me the opportunity to join the ERF Team and develop a fundraising campaign to support scholarships for the Institute for Leadership Education and Development (I-LEAD®). (Note: You can donate to support this program and other ACUI initiatives.) After participating in the institute as a student in 2012, I returned as a facilitator in 2015 and wrote about its powerful impact.

These experiences helped me connect with new colleagues and develop professional competencies in various ways. If you are interested, check out the upcoming volunteer opportunities current accepting applications and don’t hesitate to reach out to a volunteer team leader or Central Office staff member.

Finally, let me talk about the family aspect. The most rewarding and unexpected benefit that has come from my membership and involvement with ACUI has been the community I have become a part of. ACUI members will often refer to the Association as a “community of community builders”—and that is so true! You cannot quantify the value of this attribute, but I can tell you the impact for me personally. When I was job searching, when I was struggling with various professional challenges, and as I mourn the loss of my mother, my ACUI community has been there with loving arms, texts, and calls—support that doesn’t happen within other communities.

ACUI will always be my professional association. I am a member of others, and depending on my role ACUI may not always be the conference I get to attend, but it will always be my home. Whether it be a volunteer experience, a new professional opportunity, or just hoping to connect with new colleagues in your region, ACUI will be there for you.

 

Benjamin Williams

Benjamin Williams is the Associate Program Director, Student Center at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Ben manages a facility inside the Student Center; advises the Homecoming, Ramblin Nights, and Music committees for the Student Center Programs Council; and supervises six student staff in Under the Couch, a music listening space where students can perform, record music, or just study. He holds a bachelor’s in sociology from Georgia State University and a master’s from Miami University. His ACUI involvement includes serving on Regional Leadership Teams, the Education and Research Fund Program Team, and currently as one of the program leads for I-LEAD®.

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