The Committed eSeries 2015


Welcome to the 2015 Committed series!

Committed is an e-series started by Kristen Abell and I in 2014 to highlight mental illness in student affairs. We know that a number of our colleagues are affected by mental illness – their own or a loved one’s – and we want to make the field aware of this and find ways to end the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Last year, many of us shared our stories of how we’re affected by mental illness in blog posts illustrated by yours truly and shared on the Student Affairs Collective blog.


We’re looking to go even bigger and better than last year’s series, and we’ve included some of our committed tweeters and pinners in helping us do that. Here is this year’s Committed committee (say that five times fast):

  • Kristen Abell
  • Carly Masiroff
  • Jessica Fantini
  • Annie Greaney
  • Me! (And my markers)

You may be receiving correspondence from one or all of us, so we wanted to introduce ourselves.


This year, we are using the theme “This is What Mental Illness Looks Like” to share more about the importance of stomping out stigma. In this theme, we are looking for visual contributions in addition to written ones – this can include, but is not limited to, photographs, illustrations, videos, vlogs, and written blogs. We’ll be highlighting four sub-themes throughout the month:

  • Throughout the lifespan
  • Loved ones
  • At work
  • Myself

Each week will feature one of these sub-themes, and we will be doing our best to show folks what mental illness looks like in regards to each of these areas. We truly believe that one of the best ways to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness is to help those who are not affected by it to better understand it.


Interested in helping us out? Fill out this form and let us know a little about your story.

Looking forward to committing to ending the stigma around mental illness with you.



The Committed Committee



I’s and Orientation: A Survival Guide


To help Amma celebrate the six month anniversary of The I’s Have It, I asked if I could write a guest post about my recent experiences with orientation week. You can check out the original post here.


Oh, Orientation Week. You are one of my favorite times of the year and yet…well, I feel ashamed admitting this. But, I dread you sometimes. It’s not like I would ever want to break up with you – we’ve had so many great years together! It’s just that you EXHAUST me. You drain my energy like no other. You’re countless hours, necessary high spirited, ongoing energy, endless group activities…

You drain me. But each year, I prevail.

In my seven straight years of orientation, this one has been the most successful for myself as an introvert. I’m not sure if it’s from being a bit more self aware, or because this topic has been one that’s stuck in the forefront of my mind for the last year or two. Either way, I’d like to share a few ways that my ‘I’ was protected during medical school orientation this year.

Orientation prep #selfie!

Orientation prep #selfie!

Embrace the prep.

This is one of the few times where I did VERY little the weekend before orientation. By very I mean, I worked on some #suedles, saw some friends and family, and embraced equal parts of lounges and naps. When I started to feel guilty about saying no to a few things, I stopped myself. This was my time to build up some reserves before a long week. I knew I would rely on these for the next few days. Taking the time to reserve energy insured I was starting off on the right foot.


Your I is showing.

It’s no secret in my office that I’m an introvert. I have been known to hug my door. The framed cover of “The I’s Have It” is proudly displayed on my desk. This openness has allowed for some conversation with co-workers about introverted preferences. Alongside this, it also offers a venue for a discussion about some fears. While risky in some environments, I enjoy explaining to colleagues why I’m fearing a few 14 hour workdays in a row and what that can mean for my temperament. Not only does it hold me accountable to be better at preserving, it invites others to check in with me too.


Use your strengths.

Sessions of hundreds of students. Small talk during meals. Rounds at receptions. These are all common occurrences during an orientation week. It’s an exciting time of the year! We need to be exciting! Woo!…zzZZzz. Yes, all of these are important. But, you may have other strengths as an introverted staff member that are NOT be utilized during orientation.

Offer to run a small group session. Those maps of your school/campus? Hand them out and highlight some “recharge” areas. Then go hang out in one. Your poised introduction to the new group? Tell them you’re an introvert and like to write/read in your spare time. Offer to head up the week’s hashtag and monitor the backchannel. Volunteer to touch base with students who are missing items and use the opportunity to get to know them one-on-one. All of these items are suggestions that I made sure to include in our program this year.

Embracing the office mess.

Embracing the office mess.


Be creative about recharging.

During orientation week, there are few opportunities (if any) to close my door. Formal breaks are not an option most days. Staff members are expected to be around for an ungodly amount of hours. We signed up for this, but not necessarily something that we are comfortable with.

I began examining our orientation schedule early this year, being very cognizant of the timing of the days. As we planned, I encouraged shorter scheduled days, where we had the luxury to offer them.  I volunteered to be a part of the scavenger hunt in another building. This put me away from “home base” and gave me the opportunity to interact with the new class in smaller groups. I came in early enough to be able to have some quiet working time in my office in the morning. I offered to run errands when needed to recharge in my car. And I was open with my employer about how assigning me to these tasks would ultimately help our team succeed.


Sometimes, there’s no I in orientation.

This last tip is a play off of the old saying; sometimes you can’t find time to recharge. You don’t have the luxury of changing a schedule. You have a small staff and can’t take time away. There is no room to introvert. And that’s okay. You can still prep for the week by making sure you get plenty of rest beforehand and have healthy snacks on hand. You can plan, run and have a successful orientation. Sometimes, we just have to power through the discomfort and learn from it. More often than not, this can teach us something AND make us appreciate that end-of-the-week pedicure just a little bit more. 🙂




Want to read more about orientation and introverts? You can check out Amma’s post about icebreakers here




well, it happened. i finally found a tweet that lit a fire in me… and more than twenty others.  it’s resulted in something pretty amazing.


i have to thank Stacy for said tweet that stuck with me for too long:


cue a brain dump session with Kristen Abell, a conversation with the folks at The Student Affairs Collective (thanks Tom and Sabina!) and of course, some suedle-ing and here we have it…



"Committed" to Mental Health Month with #SAcommits

“Committed” to Mental Health Month with #SAcommits


“Committed” is the result of too much silence, too much hesitation and too much stigma surrounding mental health in student affairs. we work as caretakers, members of the front line and members of the administration that fight for student health & wellness. why aren’t we doing the same for ourselves?

well, some of us are but no one knows about it. it’s time we preserve a space for this conversation. it’s time to make this a constant.

help support members of our community, online and off, by using this series as a jumping off point. join me in committing to this conversation by following the series throughout the month of May.


learn more here and join in the conversation using the #SAcommits tag.


special thanks to everyone who has submitted a story that will be featured in the series. your courage is the reason this exists! 

suedles on stage.

Drawings, Multimedia, Writing

this Saturday marks many firsts for me.


it will be my first time traveling to Indianapolis.

ACPA will be my first national conference.

and (drumroll) it’s the first time #suedles will be on a national stage.


nervous excitement at its best!

nervous excitement at its best!


i’m excited to announce that  i will be sue-dlinglive

for the opening & closing sessions (and more!) at the ACPA National Convention


bringing visual language to our field can help ‘reinvent’ how we communicate with each other, process information and encourage this kind of expression in our home institutions. i’m pumped to be involved in such a unique way and grateful to those who helped make this happen.


if you are attending the conference be sure to say hi. oh, and keep your eyes peeled during the rest of the conference. you never know where you will find a suedle… 🙂


follow the backchannel using the #ACPA14 and #suedle from March 26th – April 2nd for conference fun and illustrations galore! 

stop! collaborate & listen.

Drawings, Multimedia, Writing

there’s an awful lot of noise in our lives.

if you work in student affairs, the volume get particularly loud as autumn approaches. if you don’t, i bet you can point out a time during the year where you feel overwhelmed and possibly unheard.

today i was reminded that we can change that with one little (big?) adjustment.

how often do you take the time to listen?

no, not just hear the noise around you. how often do you take the time to LISTEN?

that adjustment can make the different between a mediocre and awesome moment.

break out those q-tips & happy friday.

win, lose or – dash.

Drawings, Writing

preface: i do not have a good poker face. at all.


my friend and mentor Chris tweeted this today…


Mallory and Chris have both written fantastic posts in the past few days about finding your ‘why.’ (check ’em here and here.) normally, any mention of a #suedle makes me squirm with anticipation and grab the closest felt tip pen.

today, not so much. Chris’s tweet literally made me recoil. then it made me reflect on the ‘why.’


june and july are busy months in medical education. this year, we welcomed a new class of MS1s and congratulated our MS2s and MS3s on successful transition. it’s an exciting time and one of the only things that can keep me indoors during beautiful summer months.

confession: i am struggling to celebrate these beginnings properly this year. beginnings and endings often go hand-in-hand. in all of this happiness is an underlying reminder of two recent endings. one is the loss of a student in his year long battle with cancer. the other was the sudden loss of my uncle in july. its hard to find words to express how i feel about these events. it’s been more difficult to express them with my preferred medium too.

i have been at a loss for a suedle.

when dealing with wins and losses, new beginnings and endings, i often find that it’s the ‘why’ that hits us the hardest. it’s enlightening to articulate the ‘why’ when you can. when you can’t, it can be frustrating, sad and impossible. it’s really difficult to embrace that unknown ‘why’ and just roll with the punches, especially when it effects the people you love.


one of my cousins shared a really beautiful poem during the services for my uncle. not only did i find comfort in this piece, but it also made me think (a ton). it made me reflect on my own journey so far, and all of the things that i would want to share in my dash…and all of the ‘whys’ to go with them.